Tales of Xillia Review


Tales of Xillia tells an amazingly touching story of a world at war, struggling with the ideas of settling with peace and jostling to be the power maintaining said peace. Set in a world where a powerful super weapon called the Lance of Kresnik has been discovered, we see a land full of warring nations attempting to seize power of a device of which they understand very little. They don’t know what it is or what it does, they just know that it holds immense destructive capabilities and that being the nation that controls it will place them in a position of world power.

Right off the bat Xillia gives you the choice to play through the story from the perspective of one of two characters, Jude, a shy and unsure doctor, and Milla, a deity in human form come to Earth to investigate the strange new power humanity is attempting to wield. While both playthroughs hit the same main story beats, each character offers differing cutscenes and a unique perspective on the events of the game. While not essential, there’s enough difference there to warrant a second playthrough to experience parts of the story that would otherwise remain a mystery.

The battle system has a great deal of depth, which is important in a game where you’ll be fighting many monsters along your travels. You can select on the fly which of your up to six playable party members to control at any time, as well as setting tactics for your A.I. teammates to use when auto battling. You can also free control character movement within battles, create chains between physical and magic attacks, pair with another character in the battle to team up with them for additional moves, and even perform manoeuvres such as flanking with their help thanks to an intelligent A.I. system for the other party characters.

The in-engine gameplay when roaming the world and taking part in battles looks nice, but the in-engine story cinematics are a lot less visually impressive. Due to the fact this game was released two years ago in Japan, its insistence on sticking with certain visual conventions from the series means that the game’s age does show in some areas. It looks okay at those moments, but it’s not pushing the visual boundaries JRPGs are often expected to push. The game also has some exquisite anime cutscenes, but these are woefully underused.


There’s a great deal of diversity when it comes to the playable cast. Without ruining the surprises that await you, each of the characters handles differently in fights and has wonderfully unique and equally fleshed our motivations. The only thing that really annoyed me about the main cast was that Milla’s English VO track is annoyingly stiff. It’s tough to tell how much of that was an intentional attempt to portray her as a fish out of water, unfamiliar with acting as a human, and how much was down to poor acting or direction. Many of her interactions drag down the surrounding scenes.

On the subject of conversations, there are some great inter-character conversations throughout the game that can be activated using the select button. When activated, the action pauses to show images of the characters faces talking to each other, stopping the flow of the game and incentivising skipping these. These conversations often have the best moments of character interaction in the game, but it’s a shame that in traditional Tales Of style we can’t listen to these conversations while roaming the world or taking part in battles, instead having to pause the action to learn more story then jump back in.

The game also has a fantastic upgrade system. Featuring a spider-web style system of interconnected orbs, you can branch your upgrade paths off in multiple different directions in order to customise your character play styles. The variety of ways to branch out in this system, avoiding upgrades you don’t want and focusing on those you do, means that you can really tailor your team to your particular play style.

In the end the main reason to play Tales of Xillia is to experience its story. Spanning almost 40 hours with minimal side-questing, along with a second perspective to replay the story, the game offers a rich and deep world that constantly reflects the ideas being put across by the narrative. It’s a touching game that had me enthralled from start to finish, even if it is showing some signs of age with comparable JRPGs.

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