Tales of Zestiria
For something called the 'scenario demo,' Zestiria didn't show a lot of anything in context. Four characters leave the castle in the dead of night — why? No reason given, only a point on the map to aim for. En route, there were overly friendly land octopodes and vorpal squirrels to deal with. Battles, once actualized by a rabid rodent going for the nuts, appear to take place on a limited field otherwise identical to the section of the map where the encounter happened, trees and all. The battle system devs went with a no-MP approach on this one, with all actions taking various amounts off of an action gauge. Also, the main character is free-running throughout battle, which should tell Tales fans more than enough about what to expect in regular fights in this game.
The only part that could really qualify this as the scenario demo, as opposed to the battle demo I could have chosen, happened at the very end, where the main character and his buddy demonstrated DBZ-style fusion abilities. Clothed in silvery white and bearing a mighty longbow (though both characters appear to use swords), this compound version of the hero proceeded to shoot a dragon from the sky in a scene full of interesting cinematography. Then we had to finish putting a rather pissed off firedrake out of its misery. Now that I knew fusion was even possible, it was fun to switch between the two modes with the left shoulder button, sometimes aiming for the ankles with my blades and other times raining pointy hell down on the enemy.
I'm still in the dark as to why any of it happened, though.
Tales of the World: Reve Unitia
The demo for this game also failed to explain what was going on exactly, but in this case it worked because all the major characters had plot-induced amnesia anyway. The opening scene, where the cute little pastel denizens of the dreamworld summoned up a score of glowing spheres which resolved themselves into familiar heroes, was pretty par for a Tales of the World intro. All those protagonists have to come together somehow.
There were two scenarios to choose from, one following the cheery green, Terun and the other with the sullen, gloomy Nacht as the principal plot characters. The two choices involve different playable characters, different story paths, and apparently different base difficulty settings as well — though in typical Tales fashion I was able to adjust the difficulty levels manually if I so desired.
This is one of those rare Tales games that does not run on the series' trademark Linear Motion Battle System. Instead, Reve Unitia is wholly tactical in style. The demo did a good job as a tutorial (and in fact probably is the real game's tutorial section), introducing the basics of movement, range, positioning, and even a few quirks such as how some enemy AI setups preferentially target specific characters depending on actions taken. For example, the killer bees around the end of the demo would go after one hero in particular because she'd used a healing Arte.
All in all, it felt like a solid tactical title with some possible twists — not too generic in design but not too radical either. I'm keeping this one under consideration in the future.