JRPG fans had been eagerly awaiting the release of this thirteenth entry into the Tales franchise. Well, the wait is over, but was it worth it? TOX is strong JRPG, but it does have it’s flaws here and there. Nonetheless, it’s a fun ride and offers a great experience that fans have been looking forward to.
Tales of Xillia follows Jude Mathis, a medical student with a talent for martial arts, and Milla Maxwell, the successor of the master of spirits. The game follows a typical storyline about a very strong weapon, but it soon becomes very interesting once you get other party members and look into their backgrounds. Each character is unique and interesting, and they make the story flourish with their presence. In Tales of Xillia, a new feature is the option to choose your main character. Obviously, the two main characters are Jude and Milla. Basically, the story can be viewed from two perspectives, depending on who you choose. This is a very interesting thing as it gives you an excuse to play the game twice in order to find out what it would be like to play with the other character. Of course, the main story isn’t affected, but you’ll see changes in dialogue and events.
The game is presented using anime-styled graphics, conversations between party members and anime cutscenes. Since the game came out in Japan in 2011, the visuals do look a bit dated, but they make up for it with their beauty and artistic approach. Anime cutscenes are great to watch, especially if you’re an otaku. However, the they aren’t that frequent, especially in the later portions of the game, leaving the player a bit disappointed. I would personally eagerly await the next anime cutscene, only to be disappointed by it’s absence. Conversations are pretty smooth too. Characters who are speaking will appear on the screen and you can see their facial expressions and listen to what they’re saying. These are a way of further expanding Xillia’s engaging story. The English voice acting is very well done, with each character’s voice being unique and filled with emotion where required, with the only exception of Milla. Sometimes, Milla’s voice felt very stiff and robotic, instead of humanly, often causing the atmosphere to weaken.
Like previous Tales games, Tales of Xillia’s combat is action-based. Touching an enemy does trigger a battle mode, but the battles are not turn based as is the case with a number of JRPGs. During the battle, you can take control of any party member and access a number of features to defeat your enemies. The system is very simple, or very complex, depending on your fighting style. You can simply rush in and attack the enemies, or experiment with different options to find what works best for you. Battles are definitely a lot of fun, with the battle theme being very exciting hence encouraging you to fight. Since they don’t get boring due to variations in enemies and the addition of new party members from time to time, one hardly ever gets tired of fighting. Plus, they’re quite rewarding too. Xillia won’t require you to grind a lot, but if you do, the game will seem a lot easier and fast-paced.
The game features a Lilium orb system that you can use to level up your characters and increase their stats. It’s quite reminiscent of other character progression systems that you see in other JRPGs, so if you’ve been playing those, Tales of Xillia won’t be too difficult for you to understand. It’s basically about powering up orbs to get stat increases or new skills. If you go into it’s depth, you’ll find that it’s very interesting and engaging, keeping you busy for a while and making you think back on your decisions. However, the system does seem a little typical.
Unfortunately, the Tales of Xillia does not feature a world map. With an extensive world, a traversable world map would have been appreciated. Instead, we are given a quick travel option to quickly get to any location we want. However, this does make the game seem a little linear. Especially because of a minimap and the fact that it shows you the path, which often seems narrow, Tales of Xillia will sometimes remind you of Final Fantasy XIII and it’s linearity. They’re different games of course, and Tales of Xillia isn’t as linear as Final Fantasy XIII, but you are sure to find yourself comparing the two at certain points in the game.
The game does a good job of trying to remove it’s linearity by giving us a plethora of side missions which are triggered randomly. Also, areas often have hidden chests and items that you’ll need to find, making the game seem a little more open. Sometimes, you’ll want to revisit areas to make sure you haven’t missed anything. Some towns and dungeons are quite large and have a lot to do in them. NPCs are also noteworthy and talking to them is sometimes important to understand the story better or find a way to finish your quest.
To top it all off, Tales of Xillia has a nice soundtrack that you’re sure to enjoy. The battle theme, the background music in towns and dungeons – it’s all fantastic and quite well done. It certainly wraps up Tales of Xillia is a pretty little box, making it more appealing.
The main story can take about 30 hours to finish. If you’re interested in side quests, the game can go up to about 40 hours or more, depending on how many you complete and how much of the world you explore. Furthermore, if you’re curious to find out what the game would be like from a different character’s perspective, then Tales of Xillia will hold a lot of value for you, easily keeping you engaged for 60 hours or more.
I can’t say that Tales of Xillia is the best Tales game yet or even the best JRPG this year, but it does hold itself pretty well for a game that is two years old. It might not be better than Ni no Kuni, but it sure kicks the crap out of Time and Eternity.
Tales of Xillia Review (PS3)
With a pretty good story, a great battle system and nice music, Tales of Xillia is a JRPG worth playing. However, it does fall short on account of Milla's uninteresting voice acting, a little bit of linearity and a few aspects that seem typical and might wear you out.