Hoo boy, as a story about a group of Anti Heroes, Tales of Berseria has a bunch moments with real emotional weight, to the point where it is widely considered one of the most depressing games in the entire franchise. So much so that you could probably get at least one moment from each character.
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- The first cutscene has Arthur saving a young Velvet and Laphicet and then rushing to save their sister Celica and her unborn son. As the following cutscenes show, he was too late and even lost the use of his right arm. It gets even worse when you see the events played back in the Earthen Historia from his perspective. Artorius, distraught at the loss of his master and unable to fulfill the hopes and dreams that his master left to him, essentially received a second chance at life as "Arthur" with a woman who cared for him when no one else would, only to have it all disappear again. The look of despair when he sees the blank face of his wife now reincarnated as a Malak seals his Start of Darkness, and can one really blame him?
- The death of Laphicet, and Velvet's reactions to it. Both voice actor's note horrified, rage-filled screams are equal parts terrifying and tragic.He was my brother! My Laphi! What did he ever do?!
- Eleanor killing the daemon-turned mother of Kamoana, who was just a little girl. With her last strength, the mother drags herself to her daughter, saying she's sorry while Kamoana devours her. When Kamoana snaps out of it, she begins crying and calling for her mother, apparently unaware what she did. Eleanor, who lost her own mother to daemons, is horrified. This also leads her to slowly realize that the Abbey and its ideals that she had dedicated her life to are a total sham. It starts when Magilou casually reveals Artorious' crimes against Velvet, shocking Eleanor as she desperately tries to deny the Shepherd would ever do such things. She is further shaken by the events surrounding Kamoana and her mother, and Oscar defending said actions does not help. Finally, Velvet angrily confirming her past during the return to Titania completely shatters her faith in the Abbey. Later, when she has to retrieve some medicine for Kamoana she finds the giant troll that had killed her mother in the village. She goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge not unlike Velvet and kills the daemon. Her rage and anger has her generating malevolence, hurting Laphicet in the process. Had the others not calmed her down, Eleanor would have turned into a daemon right then and there. And, since Eleanor was his vessel, so would Laphicet.
- With how dynamic Laphicet's character development is, it's very easy to forget where he started as a character, a litteral blank slate who would only do anything if he was ordered to.
- Magilou's few peeks Beneath the Mask show a character who has lived a good long while, but has grown into The Cynic who expects the worst out of people. It makes her moments of trying to lighten the mood paint her more as a Sad Clown. Then when you learn her backstory, it becomes really painful. At a young age, she had a naturally high resonance and was communicating with malakhim. Because of this, her parents abandoned her and she became a performer. However, she was horribly mistreated and abandoned but then Melchior would adopt her to take his place. But upon being shown an illusion of her heart's desire, she had her heart broken by the illusion, and Melchior cast her aside. That's when we find her at the prison at the start of the game.
- Magilou gets one while holding the line. She repeatedly had her heart broken by Melchior, and she hardly cares. Either she really is that tough, or it doesn't matter to her what happens to her own life.
- Velvet's first attempt at Artorious ends in a very harsh failure, and almost costs Velvet her life were it not for Laphicet healing her constantly. Seeing her desperately charging in knowing that she can't even scratch him.
- Velvet realizing that the village of Aball she returns to is fake. She has to walk away from her brother, Laphicet, calling out to her, begging her to stay, crying for her. No wonder the following scene has her so quietly enraged.
- After fighting against Oscar and Teresa, Velvet accidentally kills Oscar when trying to shut off his armatus. Teresa sees this and tries to kill Velvet, only for her to move out of the way and kill her too. She tries to rationalize it as self-defense, but starts breaking down realizing that she's becoming just like Artorious, killing Teresa's brother to achieve her goals.
- Velvet learning the Awful Truth. Not only is her brother still alive, but he's become Innominat, and he willingly participated in the ritual that claimed his life. Her quest for vengeance was All for Nothing. Immediately after that, the next dungeon has her being hit with one hell of a Heroic BSoD. At first, Velvet is just stuttering quietly to herself. Once she and the party start seeing memories that reveal her brother Laphicet intentionally got himself sacrificed, she starts screaming that it's all a lie, before Innominat appears and tells her that she's just a heartless monster. Her own brother calling her that causes Velvet to agree, even almost willingly dying after the weight of her sins hits home. After Laphicet gives Velvet his lecture she finally breaks down and tearfully admits that even though she's furious at him, she still loves Arthur deep down.
- For Eizen, just knowing his eventual fate in Tales of Zestiria is bad enough, then you learn that his Malak domain is one of misfortune, something he doesn't want other to suffer for, especially for his sister. When trying to rescue Aifread, he gets subjected to Melchior's illusions. While he had little trouble getting past the illusion of Aifread, he is then presented one of Edna and is actually hesitant despite knowing she isn't there. What makes it heartwrenching is that Zaveid breaks this illusion by shooting the illusion of Edna in the head right in front of Eizen. This is one of the few times we see him shaken.
- For fans of Zaveid in Tales of Zestiria, we get to see him at his younger times. However, he's much more naive, which makes his story about being a pacifistic fighter all the more heartbreaking. This comes to blows against Eizen and the party, who seems to be more willing to kill others easily, especially with Aifried who saved Eizen. Then you go through his sidequest. Zaveid fell in love with a Malak named Theodora who had turned into a Shenlong dragon you meet around the midgame. By the late game, you start hearing about a dragon rampaging through various areas, where Zaveid intercepts the party at every turn. During that time, you learn that a Malak that eats the heart of a white horned dragon can negate a Malak's domain, like Eizen's Reaper's Curse, Theodora is one of those dragons and thus Zaveid has more of a reason to fight off Eizen. By the time you see both of them at the top of a cliff where you first met the dragon, she had lost all of her sense of mind, attacking both children (whom she loved) and Zaveid (who was trying to save her). Eizen then drops the bomshell, that having Theodora as a dragon goes against his creed, to live the way you want to, and in becoming a dragon, she was no longer living free, but trapped in a form that goes against who they are. Zaveid then lets Eizen finish her off to finally save her. It's then where Zaveid understands the circumstances of his actions and in turn promises to end Eizen's life if he turns, a promise he keeps all the way to Tales of Zestiria.
- The story arc between Rokurou, Shigure and Kurogane, in comparison to the rest of the characters, isn't all that dramatic or heartbreaking at first glance, but it shows how obsession can consume one's self. Rokurou's obsession to defeat Shigure not only turned him into a daemon, but made him lie about Shigure overthrowing the clan and threaten his comrades because they got in his way, something that would be considered dishonorable. Kurogane, whose daemon form is a large suit of armor, literally turned himself into a sword in order to find a blade to surpass Stormhowl. And Shigure, who didn't become a deamon, saw the whole swordsman thing as one massive game of kill or be killed. Eleanor's reaction to this tells the whole story, that it's simply people just killing each other. Even the way members of the Rangetsu clan ascends can be considered sad. Shigure had to kill his and Rokurou's mother, the previous Shigure, to even get that name. When she appeared again as a Malak and was partally becoming a dragon, Shigure spared her because he didn't want to kill his own mother again. That job was left up to Rokurou, when he struck her down, she had praised him for the first time in his life, even if it was long overdue. Tabatha even tells of a story of how she had fought off the Bloodwings while holding a baby Rokurou, saying that he will be the strongest swordsman who ever lived. Being part of the Rangetsu clan itself also sounds very sad. Shigure is the only sibling Rokurou has left because his other brothers died repaying their debts. And from what Rokurou describes of his childhood, it seems the brothers spent more time on training than actually getting to know each other. He didn't even know Shigure hated being alone until Morgrim told him (which she immediately points out). It's no wonder Shigure was trying to leave even before Rokurou accused him.
- A hidden part of the Earthen Historia shows that right before Seres went to free Velvet, she came across her unborn son now reincarnated as a Malak like her. Having regained the memories of her previous life and knowing that she probably won't return from her trip alive, the only thing she can do is look on and pray for her son's safety.Seres: Please... find it in your heart to forgive your mother when she failed to protect you...
- The ending for Velvet. It starts after defeating the armatized Artorious where Velvet stabs him with his own sword. She then starts crying and grieving, knowing that while she achieved her goal of killing Artorious, she still mourns the loss of Arthur, her beloved brother-in-law. Then, she goes to a rampaging Innominat and allows him to devour her malevolence, and in turn devouring him, causing an infinite cycle sealing herself and Innominat away in eternal slumber. Worse yet, she knew this would happen in some way and considers it punishment for herself for the destruction she caused. Worse of all, whereas other Tales protagonists would be sealed away or go missing but eventually return or are hinted to return sometime in the future, Velvet will likely never be seen again. She never truly gets her happy ending.
- Artorious at the end of the game gets a big one. It turns out that he had a lot of malevolence built up through his despair and through meditation was able to suppress it, only releasing it so Innominat can devour it to armatize. Had anything gone wrong, he could have turned into a daemon. In his dying words, he tells Velvet that the Arthur she knew died on the day of the opening, and how he wished it would have been Velvet and Laphicet to die instead of Celica and their son. However, had it been that way, he would have tried to save the world for them instead.
- The EX Dungeon revealed that the whole reason humans turn into daemons and malaks into dragons was because of a curse put into place by the seraphs who wanted to get rid of the humans, the malaks, and their world because malevolence was poisonous to them. Malaks were seraphs who left the heavenly realm in an attempt to prove that humans and seraphs can coexist and thus removing the need to destroy humans and their world. However, the seraphs who stayed behind placed a curse on humanity and the malaks so they will turn into daemons and dragons respectively and destroy each other. This made coexistence nearly impossible and left many seraphs making the futile attempt of trying to return home. It is only thanks to Innominat and later Maotelus that the world hadn't fallen into complete chaos. Also, all of the dragons that the party fought in the EX dungeon? They were all formerly malaks who simply wanted to go home after this disaster. All the pain of daemons and dragons was all brought about because a group didn't want humans and malaks to prove them wrong by peacefully coexisting; it's equal parts cruel and selfish.