So, after playing around 15 hours of Tales of Xillia, I feel there has been enough time to write a first impression. Now, if you know me, you know I love the Tales of series, favorite being Symphonia. It seems rather inevitable at this point, but I have a feeling that I will not be able to keep myself from relating this to other games in the series. I guess you“ll see that momentarily though!
When it comes to a Tales of game, it always feels impossible not to relate characters, story, combat even, to its predecessors. Sadly, I can“t help feeling that“s the vast majority of the time that I“ve been playing Xillia, I“ve been comparing it to others.
Now luckily, this doesn“t mean that I don“t like the game. No, far from it. I rather enjoy it, but for a large chunk of the 15 hours that I“ve played I can“t help but feeling I“ve seen it all before. But then again, this the Tales of series 15th anniversary game. There has to be some similarities right?
Let“s talk combat first, one of the things I love about Xillia. It“s fluid, there are simple tutorials, it feels like I can really mix and match whatever I want and not just a set combo, and most importantly, I don“t, or at least haven“t dreaded going into random encounters yet. I remember with Legendia, by the 15 hour mark I was already starting to run from every other fight! But no, Xillia combines an interesting link system with a multitude of different partners, adding tons of combinations of link artes and then chain artes to follow.
Something else worth noting is the level up system. A grid based almost skill tree set up showing prerequisite orbs and nodes needed to learn new abilities. It reminds me of the crystarium system for Final Fantasy XIII. God, I love these. Being able to choose how my character levels up in a JRPG is such a nice feeling. I mean sure, in the back of my head I know that all the characters are going to get all the nodes eventually, but just the feeling of choosing certain ones first feels...empowering? Sadly, this is also where I have a problem with the game.
Being able to choose how my characters level up, combined with constant combination of artes and link abilities tend to make battles a bit easy. I mean, I“m only playing on Normal, but I still expect some sort of challenge, like there was in Symphonia and Vesperia. Now, when I say easy, I mean I“m 15 hours into the game and have yet to lose a single character in battle. No one has died, I haven“t received a game over, I haven“t felt the need to grind. However, I might just up the difficulty to adjust for this feeling.
Just for the sake of mentioning them, the graphics are nice, cell shaded looks gorgeous as well as the animated style cut scenes. Not to mention the battles, skills and artes look great. The music as well, it sounds incredible, the transition from field to battle is just pleasant. Compared to other games like Symphonia and Vesperia, the music is a tad of a let down, but still pleasant.
In terms of story and characters, I feel like Xillia undercuts rather harshly. From the beginning of the game I couldn“t help but feel rather lost. There was no world exposition, no explanation, no time lapse given and after 15 hours of playing, I can still say the world is rather...aloof to me. Meaning that this deep back story that characters refer to rather often has yet to be fully explained. At least that“s the feeling I“m getting. The story reminds me heavily of Symphonia, but that“s not good. And the fact that you can choose to play as either Jude or Milla feels completely pointless and merely a way to get people play through the game twice. Jude is much more interesting anyway.
When I say not good, I mean more disappointing than anything. Characters as well, with the exception of a few. Milla is a boring Collette Brunel, Jude is a less serious Senel Coolidge, and the list can go on. Oddly enough, I rather enjoy Alvin as he reminds me heavily of Zelos Wilder and Yuri Lowell. This combined with the overarching feeling of...“why the hell am I going here, when the main objective is over there“ syndrome. Not to mention all of the port towns look exactly the same, and the lack of an actual overworld is incredibly disturbing.
Now like I mentioned before, I“m not having a bad experience with this game. I“m rather enjoying it, but I feel as though I“m starting to recognize a pattern with the Tales of series, a lack of originality. If this is the future of the series, I“m a bit nervous.
Current Score: 7 / 10
I look forward to finishing Xillia, I just hope Milla develops more into the main female character I“ve come to expect from the Tales of series.