As far as JRPG’s go (that’s Japanese Role-Playing Games, for the uninitiated), “Tales of Xillia” is perhaps one of the better recent examples to emerge from the genre. In short, it’s got pretty much everything you could want, an overworld map that serves as your exploration portal, energetic real-time brawling, as well as an intriguing story.
Speaking of the story, you’re thrust into a world called Rieze Maxia, which is at once beautiful as well as dangerous. You are given the choice to assume the role of Jude Mathis and Milla Maxwell. 2000 years prior to the age in which the game takes place, Milla’s ancestor (who’s simply called “Maxwell”) was a powerful spirit who split the world into two parts (Rieze Maxia and Elympios). Naturally, our characters inhabit Rieze Maxia, which just so happens to also be a home for “evolved” humans who have the ability to use magic via their direct communication with the spirits. By contrast, Elympios has become extremely technologically advanced via a device called the Spirix, which feeds of these same spirits.
Milla’s ancestor, Maxwell, erected a barrier around Elympios which was designed to prevent this from happening. However, terrorists from a group called Exodus are now seeking to destroy the barrier and wreak havoc on the established balance. Our two heroes, Jude and Milla, meet at a military research facility and discover that a super-weapon of unimaginable power exists called the Lance of Kresnik. Milla, a powerful deity, steals the key for the device but loses her powers in the process, rendering her largely mortal. Their goal is to make sure that the Lance of Kresnik isn’t used to bring down the barrier.
Visually, Tales of Xillia looks fantastic, it possesses all the charm of an extremely detailed and expertly rendered animation although more intriguing somehow. Likewise, there is plenty of room to explore via the overworld map which introduces the player to various terrains. The battles themselves are bright, colorful and extremely flashy, which is more or less par for the course when it comes to JRPG’s.
You’ll find that the gameplay is pretty much divided between two activities: overworld battles and exploring the towns. This provides a nice balance which isn’t too forced or contrived and lets the player experience the game world on their own terms, if you will. As far as the combat is concerned, “Tales of Xillia” does employ what appears to be a hack and slash real-time mechanic, but don’t get the wrong idea, there’s a bit more to it than mere button-mashing. Over time you’ll have to learn to employ some basic strategies utilizing your magical powers as well as brute force in numbers (which can be somewhat challenging given the fast pace of the onscreen action).
Simply put, if you’re looking for an interesting RPG to tackle or are just craving some classic JRPG action, “Tales of Xillia” certainly won’t disappoint. While this title is certainly based on many familiar elements, it has enough twists and turns to keep things interesting and fresh as well. Definitely give it a go.