Tales of Xillia Review: tales of another JRPG 
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Zoe Hawkins
October 1, 2013 at 1:00 pm

Unlike the rest of the Lazygamer staff, I am a confessed JRPG fangirl. Yup, I love them, can’t get enough of them. Well, or so I thought. This happy fangirl was given Tales of Xillia, and I may need to qualify that fangirl title.

Tales of Xillia is your typical coming of age JRPG. The story focuses on two main protagonists – Milla and Jude. At the beginning of the game, you can choose which character you want to play as – something that confidently implies that Xillia will be so good you’ll just have to play it twice to see both sides of the story. I chose Milla, a character later described as a “busty 20-something” (she has jiggle physics), and she certainly is.

Mila

Milla proclaims that she is actually Lord Maxwell, the ruler of spirits and protector of both humans and spirits. Jude, on the other hand, is a shy and awkward medical school student. Through a strange series of events, they end up on a journey together as Milla pursues her mission. They gather the rest of the JRPG archetypes during the first 10 or so hours of gameplay. These include Alvin, the mercenary with a secret, Rowan, the wise old man with a past, Elize, a cute naive girl with her strange pet Teepo, and Leia, the insecure girl with a lifelong crush on Jude. Together, they will try to save the world, while learning important life lessons along the way.

So yeah, it’s a fairly traditional JRPG plot line, with your typical characters to act it out. In fact, I was sort of enjoying the game. Until I fell asleep. No, seriously – for the first 20 hours of gameplay, I could not play for more than 2-3 hours without falling asleep, controller in hand. I’m not sure if it was the music, the voice acting or what, but something consistently put me to sleep. It made the game rather difficult to get immersed in, and certainly made me worry about how much I was actually enjoying Tales of Xillia.

Tales of xillia

With the exception of some side quests (bring a certain resource or food dish, go kill some enemies, go save someone who tried to kill enemies), the plot line is fairly straight forward. Arrive in location, sit through 15 minutes of cut scenes, travel to the next location killing tons of enemies, arrive in new location, rinse, repeat. It was just a bit too predictable for me, and it ended up feeling like bad story telling. The pacing was particularly bad – the story and character development dragged for the first 20 hours or so of gameplay, then all of a sudden there was a huge game shift with a ton of new developments, followed by two hours of gameplay that seemed to be endgame stuff, followed by another ten hours of pointless (and predictable) plot twists. I kept waiting to get absorbed – to care about the characters or story. It just didn’t happen.

The combat system was rather interesting. Characters could do normal attacks, or special attacks. They could also link with one other character during combat, leading to special combo attacks. I spent most of the game with Milla and Jude linked – I seemed to get the most combos and Jude had a knack for keeping Milla alive. However, mixing up between the characters did add a nice variety to combat. In general, the fights were dynamic, quick and relatively interesting. However, there was little to no need for grinding. If you kill just half the enemies on your journey between areas, you will be high enough level to kill the next boss. In fact, early in the game, I was killing every enemy I encountered, and I found the boss battles to be a bit too easy to be interesting or challenging. That said, in general, the combat was well designed and thought through.

xillia combos

Leveling occurs with the use of Lilium orbs. These spread out like a web, with nodes focussing on HP, stats, skills and abilities. In this way, you can fully customize a character’s attributes. If you like, you can work evenly around the web, balancing your character, or you can focus on specific skills and attributes as you see fit. If you don’t want to worry about how to build your character, you can also select “auto-level” and the game will do it for you. So, this should appeal to the OCD customizer and lazy levelers alike.

I found the aesthetic of Tales of Xillia to be inconsistent. Some cut scenes allowed you to move dialogue along, some did not, and others turned the entire cutscene into an anime-style clip. I liked all three styles, but found it jarring the way that they moved between them. For the most part, the music was rather repetitive and monotonous – I still blame my narcolepsy on it. However, in the last 10 hour of the game, the music changes drastically. In fact, it becomes like a cool jazz soundtrack. I love jazz, but I must say that Xillia almost made it sound like a softcore porn flick. The saxophone just rang out in such a way that it made me worry about what Milla and Jude were getting up to after battle. I believe the jazz was to represent the new world the players encountered, but I was just unimpressed with the use of music and art direction.

Tales-of-Xillia-Anime

Despite these issues, the game truly wasn’t bad. It just wasn’t great, either. I found myself wondering what would set Tales of Xillia apart. It did not have any element that made it inherently repulsive. Combat worked, the story was okay although told in a predictable and poorly paced way. The characters were diverse enough for everyone to have a favourite, and there are a wide variety of towns, fields and dungeons. All in all, there was nothing truly horrible to say that this game was bad. However, I’m afraid that it is also completely forgettable. There is nothing that sets the game apart as something to enjoy, to replay. So, add this to the pile of average JRPGs. If you’re a fanboy/girl, give it a whirl. Otherwise, it’s really not worth your time.

Wielding my lasso of truth, I am the combination of nerd passion and grammar nazi. I delve into all things awesome and geek-tastic. I believe people should stop defining themselves and just enjoy playing games, so let's get on with it!

  • TiMsTeR1033

    Not bad meaning: Not good or great either…

    • Her Highness the Hipster

      indeed. nothing really wrong with it, but also nothing really right…

      • TheScienceEnthusiast1130

        You = Fail?

  • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

    I liked Tales of Symphonia on the GameCube, will probably give this one a go later this year.

    • Umar Jaeger

      looking forward to the HD remake

    • TiMsTeR1033

      ” DON’T DO IT! “

  • Umar Jaeger

    Hmm, been waiting to pick this one up, most of the reviews I have read claim this game is even better than Abyss which is a HUGE statement, so will have to try this one out for myself, not that I don’t trust your judgement Zoe but, as a long time Tales fan, I have to see whether this game is as good as they say as Vesperia set a very high standard for me.

    That said, Tales are very samey , but they have a certain degree of charm to them though which is why I keep coming back, besides graces f…meh

    • Noel

      Zoe’s review for Xillia is SUCH A JOKE, You can tell she never followed the series how can she give one of the best Tales games of all time a average rating! Then goes out of her stupid way to insult Tales fans like ourselves by calling the game decent..

      Want to hear a joke? Zoe calls herself a JRPG Gamer! hahaha

      • VinTaco

        Wow you’re an arrogant dick. I would love to illustrate how TERRIBLE your argument is but its a waste of time.

        How about you go enjoy the game without forcing your opinion on others?

        • TheScienceEnthusiast1130

          Ummm…hypocrite?
          LOL!!!!

      • Prithivi

        Tales of Xillia the best “Tales of” of all time? lol

        And you call yourself a RPG gamer? I’ve played all “Tales of” games that have been released in English and Xillia is not even in the top 5, way below Symphonia, the original Phantasia, Abyss, Vesperia or even Graces “f”.

        While the story and characters are good enough (always considering this is a “Tales of” and they’re always full of clichéd anime characters and average stories -and I say this not as a bad thing because it is what we fans expect from these games-) the rest of the game simply doesn’t live up to the expectations.

        The design of the dungeons is terrible, much worse than in Symphonia for example; the battle system is great but usually normal battles are too easy and far too short; Graces had a better and more dynamic battle system and the OST is far from being memorable. But the worst thing is the pseudo-worldmap where you expend like the 80% of the time. It is plain ugly, linear, boring and empty. There’s a lot of room for improvement here. Also, in Japan the game has been heavily criticised because of this. Luckily, I’ve heard that Xillia 2 is better than its predecesor and solves some of the design failures that this game has.

        Not liking this game doesn’t mean not being a true RPG fan, it’s just having an opinion; does she have to like every RPG she reviews? come on… Go and play some quality RPGs like Mother 3, Skies of Arcadia, Vagrant Story, Grandia, Persona 3&4 or both Baten Kaitos and then compare them with Xillia.

    • Noel

      Zoe’s review is a insult to every Tales Fan & JRPG gamer out there. I laugh that she considers herself JRPG gamer, but fails to understand the story & addictive system. she claims there’s nothing memorable when the combat system itself is one of the best in the series yet alone JRPG gear…

  • Kromas

    Steam just got septerra core for like R25. Old but awesome.

  • Brady miaau

    Enchanted Arms.

    It was crap, but I actually cared about the characters (edit – SOME of the characters). Even the annoying little cowboy girl. It was amusing to me. So I played it, even killed the most powerful monster in the game.

    This seems like that, if you care about the characters, yeah, why not, else, run and hide.

  • Noel

    @Zoe Hawkins, You’re not a JRPG Girl stop pretending to be one, while not perfect, Tales of Xillia, has touching story that has a few missteps but is overall endlessly engaging.. And Its battle system is lightning fast,smooth, and a blast to play. The characters are interesting and THE GAME encourages you to see everything it has to offer.

    Why would, Lazy Gamer let a JRPG hater such as yourself review Tales of Xillia.. Despite the fact Xillia being called one by fans of the greatest games in the series, it blows away Graces F,Just because you couldn’t understand the story doesn’t give you a right to rant about,this,game. the combat was interesting?

    Hahaha, oh please the combat was hard for you to figure out!!!

    PS:STOP PLAYING VIDEO GAMES YOU STUPID GIRL!!! >:

    • VinTaco

      Oh Jesus H. Christ you commented twice? My God bro, my God.

      You’re an arrogant dick AND a misogynist? Wow, that’s a sweet two-for-one there. Oh, sorry, am I using words that are too big for you?

      How about this: Fuck off.

      • TheScienceEnthusiast1130

      • TheScienceEnthusiast1130

        sigh…another religious/politically conservative person…

    • BossMan

      this sounds like the ranting of a sad lonely little person and while yes i don’t agree with the harsh score doesn’t mean a damn thing in most peoples eyes because IT IS A PERSONAL OPINION! Grow up review hater

    • kwaku nyantekyi

      I think Tales of Xillia is amazing and I can’t wait for part 2…but calm dude. You seem like your feelings are truly hurt. It’s just one person’s opinion. And she still gave the game an above average score. Relax.

  • lans

    Butt hurt reviewer overly harsh. Add like 2 points please!!!!

  • Alfonso Corral

    SWO characters the blonde looks like asuna the flash

  • FlashGear

    I’m playing this now and loving it…Don’t agree with this score at all. :P

    • KarakuraNinja .

      I am currently playing through it and this review looks too harsh to me. I think it may very well be one of my favourite games of all time and it is about on par with Ni No Kuni. How does Ni No get a full score but reviewers give Xillia a much lower score, this interests me. I guess I’ll see how I feel once I complete the game, although this review imo seemed way too biased because it was pinned down too much on personal preferences.
      I prefer it when reviews don’t take into account things like ‘I personally just didn’t like cutscenes being around and then playing the game, then watching another scene’. These harsh criticisms are published online and will put people off from trying the game just from seeing the score, they should really stop nitpicking and focus on criticising things that can actually put many gamers off and is actually a bad thing like a flawed battle mechanic or glitches.
      The music criticism is understandable though, I didn’t have any problem with the music and just thought of it as something in the background while I immersed in the story but when you take other RPGs the musical score in this game isn’t all that. I do find though that Ni Ni Kuni is a bit too over rated in comparison when it comes to music since most of it sounds the same (variations of the same music). Although I never cared anyway, it is what it is. Maybe Ni No Kuni was treated more lightly because Ghibli were involved and no one dares to criticise anything associated with Ghibli (I never had a problem with Ghibli myself and adore their work but I do wonder if they have been overcredited too much when you compare it to the flack other animation studios get).

  • Victoria Dobbs

    I’m pretty sure the makers of tales of Xillia made a better game than you ever could dream of so just shut up.I love tales of Xillia and understood it.if any game is predictable its tales of graces.I’m sure tales of Xillia 2 will be better though