Tales of Xillia is the latest in the long running and highly successful (at least in Japan) “Tales of” series. It offers another quality Japanese action-RPG experience with a fun battle system, good quality graphics and environments, some decent characters and a reasonable plot that doesn’t descend into too much melodrama. It’s one downfall for me is how easy everything is, it’s a bit like autopilot. This doesn’t ruin the experience, however, since everything is so well put together that just playing through it is relaxing and worth it.
What You Need to Know
Milla Maxwell is the incarnation of Maxwell, the spirit that is the guardian of The Four, four of the most powerful spirits in existence which represent the four elements. Jude is a final year medical student that gets tangled in an incident at a military lab when his professor goes missing and he happens to join up with Milla. A secret weapon at the lab robs Milla of her powers and she sets off on a quest to get them back, with Jude tagging along as he runs from the police state of Rashugal. It’s a solid set up, and, more importantly both Jude and Milla are interesting characters that carry the plot well.
Tales of Xillia is an action RPG with staged battles, levelling, a skills web, basic equipment upgrades and material gathering.
Nothing in Tales of Xillia feels particularly new, but the world setting, plot and characters are unique and worth playing the game for if you like the genre. The battle system has some interesting bits such as character linking (which causes another character to act in tandem with yours), and linked chains of Dual Artes which are pretty awesome to watch. The skill system is interesting, with nodes of a web unlocking character stat upgrades and skills unlocked when it’s surrounded by completed web strands.
The brightly coloured cel-shaded art style is also a pleasant change from the gritty style of many modern games.
What’s the Same?
A lot feels the same as other Japanese RPGs. Towns with weapon, armour, item, accessory and food shops, fields with various monsters, physical and spirit-based attack and defense, collecting materials to upgrade items available in the shops. It’s not new but it’s packaged together really well to create an engrossing experience. It’s all familiar enough to be instantly comfortable and different enough that I enjoyed learning the game systems, although I did feel they were a little lacking in choice.
You’ll Enjoy Tales of Xillia if You Liked…
…Other “Tales of” games – Xillia is probably not the ultimate best in the series, but it is a good entry.
…Ni no kuni: Wrath of the White Witch – the art style is not quite as good as that game, but it still has a lovely Japanese anime style to it that is highly accessible to non anime fans.
…Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning – the fields in Xillia feel similar, although the battles are staged and Xillia is not quite as open world as Reckoning.
What I Liked
- 5.) A solid scenario and world set up that is not overly ambitious or overwrought. The towns and countryside are beautiful and varied enough to keep things interesting,
- 4.) Smooth, responsive in-battle controls make the battles really quick. The load times are tiny, with transitions between areas taking less than a second and transitions to and from battles even less than that.
- 3.) Skits and snippets of dialogue that add flavor to the world and establish relationships between the characters in your party.
- 2.) The main characters are interesting and not annoying. In fact, they’re bordering on likeable.
- 1.) The overall feel of the world, character design and art style and the smoothness of battles makes Tales of Xillia a pleasant place to while away a few hours.
Wielding the Dual Artes in a linked combo is pretty spectacular and rewarding to get right.
What I Didn’t Like
- 4.) Weird abruptness at the end of a battle – the completion screen seems to arrive a second too early and sometimes seems to appear in the middle of battle.
- 3.) That metal music during battles really annoys me. And, speaking of repetition, the sameness of some towns that are meant to be different places is understandable but still a little annoying.
- 2.) There are side quests and the like, but most of the game feels quite linear in terms of choices. For example, each character has a weapon they use, and you can simply upgrade to the new version of that weapon when its available, you can’t really choose much in the way of armour and weapons. Even if you did, battles don’t need very tactical approaches so you can simply blast away no matter what skills are equipped.
- 1.) Battles are just way too easy. Mashing X and circle pretty much wins the battle every time. It feels like you are a little overpowered and never have to struggle to win, which makes the battles more of a slog than they should be. On the other hand this means the plot moves along at a decent clip.
Least favourite moment
There are some annoying characters which are intentionally annoying. Fortunately these are mostly side characters.
There are lots of optional side quests you can do as you play through the main quest, and you can choose to play as Milla or Jude and get some different sections of plot. The game is a solid length (35+ hours) with many more if you try to do it all.
The Bottom Line
Meaty Japanese action RPG with likeable characters and a beautiful art style. Battles are fun but a bit too easy, so play for the setting and the story.