Tales Of Xillia Review

Another RPG released in the popular Tales series of games by Namco Tales Studio, Tales Of Xillia looks to take you on a journey where you’ll meet tons of interesting characters, visit unique places and take part in some epic battles. It has taken a while to get this one localised as it was actually released in Japan over two years go, but will it keep up the tradition of great games for the series?

Tales Of Xillia follows the story of two main characters, Jude Mathis and Milla (something) as they journey together to save the spirits which inhabit their world after it was found out that they are slowly dying out due to the misuse of a mysterious piece of new technology which holds the balance between two nations about to go to war.
I felt that the story was a tightly knit one and you get to see quite a bit of character development between not only Jude and Milla, but the other characters they team up with along the way. Jude’s development is more apparent than most of the cast’s as you see him grow from this boy who was always afraid of the danger in front of him, to someone who dives in head first. Also throughout the game you get to experience mini conversations had by the characters as you are moving through the different areas. These are completely optional and you can choose whether or not to listen in. They also seem to constantly throw curveballs at you throughout the narrative as there have been a many times where I’ve thought I’ve reached the end, however something else gets thrown in and completely changes everything.

You do get to pick either between Jude or Milla as a main character, however the one problem I found was that in order to fully understand the story, you would need to play through the entire game with both of them as there are segments where they talk about specific things and you’re just sitting there thinking… did I miss that part? Overall I felt that the story was very well put together as it didn’t just focus on the two main people, but the other characters as well allowing for great development in their relationships, twists and turns.

Like most RPG’s, Tales Of Xillia involves you fighting against monsters, using that experience to level up characters and using the money gained to increase the strength of your equipment whether it’s the armour, weapons or accessories.

What I felt made the game interesting compared to other RPGs, is its approach to combat and how they can keep it fun for fans of the series, but also improve upon it by giving us a deeper fighting experience that not only utilises your chosen character’s skills, but those teamed up with you as well. As you go through the game, you will obviously level up and gain new skills. These skills can be assigned to different directions using the Analog Stick for ease of use during battle. You can also choose whether to have full control over your character or have a bit of assistance from the CPU in terms of locking on to an enemy and using certain attacks.
The game's battle system.
So for most RPG’s this is pretty standard right, however Tales Of Xillia goes beyond this by adding a mechanic called “Linking” which allows you to team up with any person on your team. Linking brings many benefits with it including more than one person attacking a target, team combos and even special team attacks depending on who your partner is. This can be enhanced further by allowing you to set specific instructions for each character from the strategy menu, making for a deeper and richer combat experience.

So who are we taking on in combat? Monsters of course and this range from the more recognisable ones that is akin to real world animals, all the way to the strange and completely wacky. There is an obvious progression system here so don’t think you’ll be taking on that giant without going through a couple hundred of its minions and levelling up. At some points of the game you’ll find monsters that make you wonder, how the heck are you meant to beat it? But with a good strategy and lots of persistence, it can be done and the reward is more than worth taking up the battle.
Sharlington - one of the game's more interesting locations.
The other half of Tales Of Xillia consists of traversing the game’s world where you’ll visit new locations, new characters and take on an abundance of side quests. The downside, well before you reach these rich areas, you have to go through dead and quite frankly boring landscapes which pretty much look the same throughout the game, apart from a seasonal change here and there. The cities and villages you visit (especially name of place) are full of people going about their lives and it’s there you can pick up extra quests by speaking to them. Thankfully this didn’t turn out like one of those titles that begin repeating quests ten times over after the first set are done, so you’ll be finding yourself doing something different every time which is a good thing.. Believe me.

If there is one thing I give Tales Of Xillia props for, is the ability to let you choose your fights rather than the standard Final Fantasy style where battles could happen almost spontaneously with no prior warning. The fields between the major areas of the game are scattered with monsters and once you enter one’s range, it will begin to chase after you. The great thing here is that you do have the choice to run away and not fight it at all, which I thought was something that was missing from a lot of RPGs. Ni No Kuni: Wrath Of The White Witch allowed you to do this to a certain extent, however the characters were so slow that most monsters would catch you anyway.

What seems to be the lowest point of the game for me, visually Tales of Xillia doesn’t seem to keep up whatsoever. Textures look like there were made for a Nintendo Wii game and character animations during cutscenes don’t seem to blend into each other very well. Keeping on track with cutscenes there were two types, the ones done in game with the actual 3D models and the more phenomenal looking anime styled ones. Now the anime styled cutscenes don’t appear as much until you’re at least a decent amount through the game, however they are an absolute joy to watch and bring about the Tales Of Xillia world a lot more than the 3D ones do.

The environments you encounter in the game have very little to separate from each other apart from an obvious season look and the strength of the monsters present. Essentially it felt like I was running through the same place over and over again, and while this does not apply to the entirety of the places you visit throughout the game, it’s the areas between main city’s that seem to be guilty of this.

The environments/ fields separating the game's main locations/
Voice work is not too bad and at times, it works very well depending on the type of conversation that is happening. If anything, Milla has the most droning voice you will ever hear from a main character and while early on it’s meant to match her personality, it pushes you away from actually embracing the character and getting involved in their story and background. I felt that the soundtracks used fit the story, characters and themes well, and the ones used for battle made you feel like you were taking part in something epic.

Final Verdict
Tales of Xillia is a title that seems to get the balance of an RPG to such a point that it makes the experience pretty seamless. While comparatively short compared to previous titles, the game is packed full in terms of its gameplay, customisation and side missions you can partake in. The story itself is pretty engaging and will keep you gripped especially during the more notable moments of the game and while you would normally be satisfied with this, the environments you roam in can come out looking below average, making you feel as if you've visited a location several times before. Great story, great characters and a detailed world to explore, Tales Of Xillia takes you on an incredible journey that’s worth going on.

Story = 9/10
Gameplay = 10/10
Graphics = 7.5/10

Final We Know Gamers Score = 8.8/10


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