Tales of Xillia is a very fun, gorgeous and addictive Japanese role-playing game (JRPG) developed by Namco Tales Studio. This is the thirteenth incarnation of the Tales series and it features an expansive semi-open world environment in a fictional land called Rieze Maxia where humans and spirits live in harmony. The spirits are metaphysical beings that grant wishes and make people’s dreams come true. They are worshipped and prayed to by humans. The story follows a goddess named Milla Maxwell, the ruler of the spirits, who watches over and protects mortals for thousands of years until one day a source of evil threatens the balance and forces her to descend onto Rieze Maxia to restore peace to the world. However, her mission doesn’t quite work out as planned as she confronts a powerful weapon called the Lance of Kresnik, which seems to have recently gone haywire. Large quantities of mana are mysteriously fed to the machine by using human victims as its power source.
In Tales of Xillia’s mythology, humans possess a gate in their brains that produces mana on which spirits feed. To cast magic (or Artes), a person releases mana from these gates and lesser spirits are drawn to it. Speak out the correct incantation and the spirits will activate the spell, enabling that person to cast the Arte. It doesn’t take long before someone realizes the potential to have all this power for themselves if they can create a weapon powered with mana. Thus enter Nachtigal, the king of Rashugal and Gaius, the king of Au Joule.
The land of Rieze Maxia is ruled by two countries: Rashugal and Au Joule. The two greedy kings have been carrying out secret operations for a long time in order to conquer the other so that only one of them can unite the two nations and rule Rieze Maxia as one. The Lance of Kresnik is a weapon of mass destruction, built by Nachtigal and later stolen by Gaius to absorb mana from humans and spirits. Once depleted of mana, the human or spirit usually dies.
Players get to control Milla Maxwell and join in her mission to destroy the Lance of Kresnik, which early on in the game takes away her superhuman power and renders her mortal. She soon befriends Jude Mathis, another controllable character in the game (if you must play as a guy), and his childhood friend, Leia Rolando. In addition, there are a handful of other interesting characters like Alvin (a mercenary from the land of Elympios which lies outside of Rieze Maxia), Elize Lutus (a very young girl with a strange talking doll that speaks out her thoughts), and Rowen Illbert (a genius war strategist) all of whom will join your party and fight alongside you. You will witness love and betrayal among friends and enemies as the wonderful scripted storyline unfolds via beautiful HD graphics and high quality anime segments.
The battles in this game are extremely fast-paced and fun unlike your run-of-the-mill JRPGs. Combats occur in real time rather than turn-based. This means that once you run into an enemy on the field map, your party will enter a battle screen where you can move Milla or Jude around and attack in any way you see fit. You can even jump around to avoid getting attacked or defend yourself with a press of a button. You will not have to wait for your turn after you strike an enemy like you would in a typical Final Fantasy game. You can also pre-program your other three AI-controlled party members to concentrate their attacks on the most powerful enemy instead of nearby enemies or to have them use mainly Arte as their main mode of attack. Or if you don’t want your party members to go crazy with health item usage during battles, simply select the option in your action command menu that prohibits your AI-controlled members from touching any of those hard-earned items you obtain on your quest.
The leveling up tech system is designed in the form of a spider web called Lilium Orb where you can exchange your skill points, which can be obtained from succesfully winning battles, to activate nodes on the spider web to raise your characters’ attack and defense stats as well as to gain more powerful Artes abilities and better combat skills to help in battles. Another interesting aspect of the battle system is that characters can link to each other to perform unified attacks. For example, if Milla is linked to Jude, she can focus on attacking her enemies while letting the AI-controlled Jude take care of making sure her health is repeatedly healed as needed. Once they’re linked, Milla becomes Jude’s priority and vice-versa.
This is a relatively long game and should probably provide the average gamer at least a week’s worth of play time. The final boss fight is almost impossible to win, even on the easiest gameplay setting. For audiophiles, the game features stellar voice-acting and a great soundtrack. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be too many varieties of different sounding tunes composed for this game, so it seems like the game just keeps recycling a handful of the same tracks throughout.
Tales of Xillia is a gem for JRPG fans. This is probably Namco’s best RPG to date, easily topping its overrated Ni No Kuni:Wrath of the White Witch. The compelling storyline coupled with a fun and very fluid combat system makes Tales of Xillia an exceptionally endearing game for all adventure and role-playing game enthusiasts.