The Tales of… series is a longstanding franchise since the Super Famicom (Tales of Phantasia first released in 1995 in Japan). Throughout the lifetime of this franchise, many of its game titles have been adapted to other forms of media: audio dramas, TV anime, books or manga. Tales of Zestiria is no exception. And now that the final episode of the anime has released I can finally form a solid opinion on my stances between the two. I can firmly say that the anime provided a better experience than the game.
THERE WILL BE SPOILERS AHEAD!
The game has a linear approach to developing the story as the focus is heavily concentrated on the Shepherd Sorey, the eventual savior of the world. The player would take control, be familiar with the gameplay functions of the Shepard, and level up to defeat bosses and dungeons to save the world. There was a problem to this structure. When the feature to armatize (the synergistic fusion of humans and seraphs; in gameplay that means only one person plays instead of a possible two) a second person came, while there was a significant increase in damage output, there was hardly any plot-related substance or reasoning that makes the addition of a new fusion attractive or meaningful. More bodies just simply meant one more person could play. The story often revisits the idea that people have different affinities to seraphs, but the game shows a binary view of it: the ability to armatize or not determines the affinity. This binary perspective extends to the whole game: can the party save you or not? If not, “oh, well, can’t do much more than that,” and move on to the next plot point.
In the anime, the addition of more party members is more significant that just firepower. Having more squires in the party meant Shepherd Sorey can do more challenging tasks like purify a malice-embodied dragon (something which was not possible in the game because you would beat it to death). Having squires Alisha and Rose accompany Sorey meant having access to resources and information. Alisha and Rose showed a larger spectrum of the seraph affinity by watching them attempt to contact seraphs, struggle to sustain armatization, or acting as recoil support to Sorey. Most of all, having more than one strong character in the story meant having small sections of the series that were focused on Alisha or Rose without Sorey as the focus. This last point is the most important because it helped visualize the state of the world; like Alisha and Sorey were separated nation’s border or when Seraph Mikleo had to investigate Rose while Sorey was under arrest. Because of this multi-focused approach, the idea of Sorey’s quest was made less abstract and the world wasn’t coincidentally happening revolve around Sorey.
Because the world was built better in the anime (among other improvements), the sense of adventure can be invoked much better than in the game. The game focused on Sorey – a Superman-like figure that can bless others to be as equally capable. Conversely, the anime was able to discern the abilities of each character in many scenes throughout the episodes. Tales of Zestiria tries to explain that each person is not equally capable (possibly in some strange line of thinking), even if they have the same mission. If you might need some video evidence, you can check out our Let’s Play on YouTube and check out the anime online.