Hm. Should I do 1 of these add-on rants for a game when it’s only got a single DLC* to begin with? Of course I should! Because add-on rants are easy and I’m lazy. Uh, I mean, because I care about giving you as much knowledge as you can about how to spend your money! I am, you see, just a great fucking guy.™
Alisha’s Story: Hm. Should you buy this? Is it good overall? Uh...I’m not all that sure, really. In that sense, it’s sort of like Tales of Zestiria as a whole, actually.
On the 1 hand, this DLC does a lot of positive things. First of all, we get a little glimpse into what happens postgame with the characters we have (presumably) grown to care about, and that’s always nice. While not completely necessary, I guess, it’s nice that we get to see what happens when Alisha learns of Sorey’s fate, and it’s also nice to see a little of what life is like for Rose and the Seraphs after their adventure with Sorey is done. Who doesn’t appreciate some closure to their tale (of Zestiria)? Plus, it’s pretty rad that Rose is now a Shepherd in her own right! Possibly even a more qualified Shepherd than even Sorey, as she doesn’t even seem to be bothered by the burden of Alisha the way Sorey was. And hey, Alisha is an appealing character, and we get to see plenty more of Rose, who’s fucking awesome, so that’s a positive.
It’s also cool to see Alisha and Rose’s interactions. They didn’t really get a chance to have their personalities work off each other very much in-game, and it turns out that they have a pretty good chemistry together. Although Rose is the kind of character who just works well as a partner and pal to just about anyone, so that’s no surprise, I suppose. Still, their dynamic is fun to watch.
On the other hand...the DLC has its shortcomings, to be sure. First of all, its purpose is somewhat perplexing. What is the point, really? It starts out as being a small journey that Rose is going to take Alisha on to reveal what happened to Sorey--which seems unnecessary, honestly; sure, it’ll upset Alisha to know, but how is dragging her across national borders to see it a better way of educating her than just outright telling her? But then, as they’re going along, the purpose somehow and inexplicably shifts from discovering the truth of what happened to Sorey, to Alisha finding her “answer.” What question this answer is relating to, the game isn’t kind enough to tell you until Alisha actually determines what her answer is. But I’m a nice guy, so I’ll just spell it out for you ahead of time: it’s what part of Alisha is the true Alisha, and what she wants to be, going forward: the princess, the knight, the diplomat, the friend of Rose, the Shepherd’s squire, or the normal girl. I won’t spoil what her answer is, but I’ll give you a hint: it’s exactly what you think it is because this is anime goddammit.
How we get from a field trip to the Sorey Sacrifice museum, to a personal journey for self-verification, I haven’t the slightest idea. But that’s kind of Tales of Zestiria’s method, anyway, right? Its story, lore, and characters are like a guy who expresses all his ideas in a shy mumble--you’ll always get the gist and fully understand a few things, but a lot of the details are incoherent and lost.
There are a few other problems with this add-on. First of all, while I like the chemistry between Rose and Alisha, their relationship is, at the same time, kind of confusing and annoying, as Rose vacillates between being caring, considerate, and warm to Alisha, and being cold, mean, and uncaring to her, for reasons which are pretty damn vague. Like I said, they work well together as friends and comrades, so it gets frustrating to watch Rose play this little emotional back-and-forth game like a middle school girl experimenting with social dynamics, instead of just being forthright about the fact that they get along pretty well and like each other.
Also, the Seraph characters don’t get enough attention here. Lailah and Edna are present from the start, and contribute a few lines here and there, but ultimately they’re just not involved in the story of this DLC at all, and when Zaveed shows up 3/4ths of the way through, he also adds nothing. Mikleo is only seen at the very end, and likewise doesn’t really have a contribution to make, beyond saving the girls from a monster. I know this is primarily Alisha’s tale (of Zestiria), and that Rose is the central figure of making that story happen, but surely something more could have been done with the other 4 major characters of the game.
And lastly, the fact is that this just doesn’t boil down to a very compelling plotline. Ultimately, it’s just “Alisha and Rose travel through a dungeon, and Alisha learns something about herself.” It doesn’t have a lot going for it from the start. And hell, the most basically exciting part of this DLC is the fact that someone’s trying to have Alisha killed (spoiler: it’s just that annoying wolf guy again), which isn’t even resolved by the end! The attacks are stopped (I think), but the heroes don’t even find out who was behind them, and the villain exits with the threat that he’s gonna keep being a pest.
So in the end, is Alisha’s Story worth buying? I reluctantly contend that it is not. I want to like it, because it has its good points, and I like Alisha and think she could have used more time in the game proper, and I adore Rose and just want to see more of her overall, but...it’s just not all that good. It makes its purpose that of finding an answer to a question about Alisha’s character that I just don’t think any of us were asking, and there aren’t enough positives to outweigh the negatives when the final destination of the DLC’s story just isn’t all that compelling. It’s not awful, like some add-ons are; spending $10 on this wasn’t an outright mistake for me, the way purchasing Nukaworld for Fallout 4 or any of Shin Megami Tensei 4-2’s paid DLC was. And if you’re just a huge fan of Alisha, maybe this could be worth it for you, after all. But overall, until Alisha’s Story is packaged as a free part of Tales of Zestiria, I wouldn’t bother with it.
* Not counting the paid add-on equipment, fashion items, and...Evangelion costumes? The hell?