If you have not noticed the "based on a video game tag" this is based on the Tales of Zestiria game, particularly everything up until the game's opening credits. As with any adapted work, there are some different positives and negatives when it is compared to the original and when viewed as a stand-alone piece. So, after the story description there are two sections: as an adaption, and as a stand-alone piece.
This section follows Mikleo (a seraph), Sorey (a human who was raised by the seraph), and Alisha (a mysterious young woman who cannot see the seraphim). Sorey and Mikleo grew up as brothers under the care of their grandfather (the seraphim village Elysia’s elder). He taught them from a young age to be careful of creatures known as hellions since they cannot be fought through normal means and bring malevolence with them.
One day Sorey and Mikleo encounter a hellion and an unconscious young woman. After defeating the hellion, Sorey invites the unknown woman to rest up in Elysia even though his grandfather forbid all humans from entering the village since it could allow malevolence to leak in.
As an Adaption:
I honestly think this is the best Tales adaption I have seen so far.
As far as I can remember, every single cut scene from the game was included and 90% of the story was exactly the same. However, this made the altered scenes a bit strange. While I highly enjoyed the additional scene with Alisha telling Sorey about the fate of Lady Lake, the altered order of events surrounding the second hellion attack did not make any sense to me. Usually, I can see the meaning behind a chance (even if I don’t like it), but here I did not see any reason for it.
SPOILER If you have played the game you know that the hellion attacked Elysia after Alisha left, which is why Sorey decided to go warn Alisha that he was coming after her. However, here Alisha is present in the village at the time. In addition, Alisha tells Sorey about the Shepard ceremony before leaving. Either of these facts could have allowed for Sorey to leave with her immediately meaning that he would not have had to go search for her later. However, instead the rest of the scenes play out the same way. Alisha leaves, Sorey realizes the hellion is after her later, and he leaves in the middle of the night with Mikleo. END SPOILER
But as far as Tales adaptations go, the story is held tightly in-tact. While Abyss did a great job of keeping the most important events from a pretty long game, Zestiria has shown protential to keep the entire story.
As I said, all the cutscenes are included and they are almost all identical to that in the game. Therefore, characterization is nearly identical. The only real difference I saw was that in the game Alisha mentioned worshiping the seraphim but doesn’t in the anime.
The voices are the same, the music is the same!
It is very nice and pretty much looks identical to the game’s cutscenes.
As a Stand-Alone Piece:
Okay, even when I started playing Zestiria I found this beginning part of the game the most boring. Not only does including all of the cutscenes drag out an already boring part of the story, not much happens, and the anime ends without much of a cliffhanger. This makes me fear that though it is a great adaptation that many viewers who have not played the game will abandon it thinking it will continue to have this leisurely tone.
The highlight points of the story in here is that the hellions are introduced, there are two fight scenes, and it is hinted that Sorey will have something to do with saving Lady Lake and other human cities.
The animation is nice and gamelike.
Sorey receives the most characterization in this, Mikleo a bit, and Alisha little. Sorey is the protagonist, though so that makes sense. Sorey and Mikleo have a close, brotherly bon, and enjoy exploring ruins together. Sorey is a human who can see the seraphim because he grew up with them. Mikleo is a bit more reserved and possibly uncomfortable around humans. Alisha, on the other hand, intentionally withholds information about herself.
I watched this dubbed, though I am assuming the Japanese cast is the same as from the game as well. Both casts do a good job, though I do enjoy the Japanese cast a bit better. However, the acting for both is spot on.
Overall, this is a great adapted work, however, I fear it fails to engage a new audience, especially considering how long of a break there is until the next movie. The game could get away with this lengthy leisurely beginning since you still had to engage with it, but here the viewer does not.