Two nights ago I finally finished Tales of Vesperia. And while I’ve only had a 360 for about 6 months, I had ToV before any other game for the system. In fact, I bought the special edition a few months before I even owned the console. Anyway, I had some fun with the game, and was pleasantly surprised with the main character in comparison to the only other Tales game I’ve played. But even with an addicting battle system and pleasing graphics, there is one conclusion that sticks out more than any other ones.
The game is 20 hours too long.
It was incredible how many times after the 30 hour mark I would say to myself, “I must be on the final few dungeons”. I think developers are confusing “good story” with “long plot”. Sure, Tales of Vesperia is full of twists and turns and overlaying complications, but who cares? If there aren’t powerful, well-explored themes threading the whole thing together, then the whole game begins to feel like a board meeting full of people saying “well it would be cool if THIS happened” without exploring WHY things should happen, and what would make sense for the characters. And while the characters were amusing, they were more often gimmicky than deep. Which is unfortunately the case with the two Tales games I’ve played. There might be an interesting moment or two, but these intriguing and human elements are replaced with one-liner gags and unbelievable “save the world” and “help one another” blabber more often than not. The good moments end up being more of a tease than anything else.
But I digress. The point is that the best two games I’ve played in the past eight years can be completed in 3-7 hours (Flower and Shadow of the Colossus respectively). They both contain powerful stories and neither are complicated. They both focus on gameplay and moods that compliment the story and themes. Everything is tied together into a concise package and neither game feels too short because the stories were exactly as long as they needed to be.
The title of this editorial is perhaps a bit misleading however, because I also think Ocarina of Time and Final Fantasy IX are both excellent games with well-thought out stories (not plots, there is a difference), and both are longer than 10 hours, provided a speed run is not taking place. In fact, I usually sink at least 50 hours into FF9 every time I play through it, and that’s the same number of hours it took me to beat Tales of Vesperia. So rather you should pretend the title reads “Editorial: Games are Too Long for the Sake of Being Long Too Often”.
See why I didn’t choose that title? It would be in contradiction with itself.
But what do you think? Have you played Tales of Vesperia? Do you disagree with me? Do you disagree with the four titles I listed as examples of concise, powerful stories? Am I missing other examples even if you agree with me? Click the comments and pour your heart out! I’ll catch you all next Friday.