Tales of Xillia Review: It's always one step ahead

Tales of Xillia Review: It's always one step ahead

Embarking on a journey through the fantastical realms of Tales of Xillia is more than just a gaming experience; it's an odyssey that seamlessly intertwines a captivating narrative with an exhilarating battle system. Xillia brings forth a distinctive blend of innovation and tradition, offering players a Dual Raid Linear Motion Battle System that elevates the thrill of combat to unprecedented heights. Beyond the sword clashes and magic spells, the game unfolds a narrative of political intrigue, power struggles, and the delicate balance between nations, all seen through the lens of two main protagonists, Milla and Jude. This dual-perspective storytelling not only adds layers of depth but invites players to revisit the tale, unveiling new nuances on subsequent playthroughs. While sparking debates within the Tales community, this game stands out as a shining gem in the RPG landscape, offering a symphony of gameplay mechanics and narrative brilliance that earns its place among the series' finest. Now, without further ado, RPG Ranked presents... a Tales of Xillia Review: It's always one step ahead.

Battle System - 10

This game uses the Dual Raid Linear Motion Battle System, a spin on the free-run LMBS of previous entries. This game is primarily centered around characters linking together to gain innate benefits and use Linked Artes, powerful combination moves that dish out heaps of damage. For example, when the player is controlling Milla and is linked to Jude, Jude will give Milla his support ability, Restore, to Milla. The ability will give Milla the ability to jump to her feet if she's knocked over. On the other hand, if the player is controlling Jude and is linked to Milla, Jude will receive her support ability, Bind, which will occasionally stun enemies when they are teamed up against the same enemy. The other characters have this as well! When paired with Alvin, his Breaker ability will break the guards of enemies. When linked with Leia, she will Steal from a Knocked enemy. When synergized with Elize, the player will steal HP and MP from the target to give to the party leader. When combined with Rowen, he will give the player an automatic Magic Guard anytime an enemy casts an offensive spell. These innate abilities make combat much more engaging, as selecting an intelligent partner choice to link with and sticking by them is imperative to taking on more challenging encounters, especially on more serious difficulties. Once you fill up the Linked Artes gauge by partnering with other characters, the player and the partner can execute powerful Linked Artes up until the gauge is fully depleted—having a plan is of the greatest importance. On top of the excellent linking system is the new AC system, which makes executing combos more satisfying and less confusing. And even more so than previous Tales entries, each character in this game feels wholly distinct to play as. Jude is a fast brawler with a focus on damage and a sub-role in healing, Milla is a hybrid mage and light attacker, Alvin is a heavy-hitting tank with long-ranged gun attacks and charged Artes, Elize is a healer and dark magic caster that can swap styles via her ally Teepo, Rowen is the game's primary offensive spellcaster, and Leia is similar to Jude, but more focused on support instead of attacking. All in all, this is definitely one of the best battle systems in the series and one of my favorites of all time.

Story - 8.5

While some don't necessarily love the storytelling of the Tales series or of this particular entry in that series, I am not one of those people. To me, this game had an unforgettable story—a story told from two alternate perspectives through the main protagonists, Milla and Jude. It is a story that is incredibly replayable, as it lets you see the tale from a new, meaningful lens on a second playthrough. My brother and I played the game at the same time, with me playing Milla and him playing Jude. Anytime the story became different, we would watch the other play, and it was fascinating! This addition makes the already climactic, engrossing story all that much more impressive! This story revolves around humans developing spirits, power sources that wrongfully absorb spirits. The two countries, Rashugal and Auj Oule, appear to be in harmony, but they both want to conquer the country, Rieze Maxia. This develops into a deeper plot of energy balance between the two nations, the eventual conquering of Rieze Maxia by one of the nations, and a plethora of engaging plot twists along the way. Ultimately, the story in this game is a truly incredible journey and a story I'd love to witness again for the first time.

Characters - 10

The majority of Tales games have an unforgettable cast of characters, and Tales of Xillia is no exception. While this game has a smaller cast than many other titles in the series, this allows for more time with each of the six characters in the party! By the end of the game, you believe in the characters' relationships and motivations, and they are all so well characterized that I could see them realistically jump into the real world and sort of blend in as real people. While that may sound stupid, Tales characters are so much more believable than protagonists in basically any other series, and Xillia does this just as well as ever! When a game is able to have me believe its characters could be real people with complex emotions, that's how I know the game is phenomenal in its characterization. Years removed from experiencing this game, I still remember so many skits from this title. From Alvin and Jude pretending to be each others echoes, to Teepo's constant shenanigans, to Milla learning to act like an average human instead of a god of spirits, to Milla calling The Four bickering in-laws to the girls questioning Milla's outfit in a meta way in the game's colder regions, this game's skits are the most memorable of any Tales game I've played to date. I loved the character development of Milla, who has to learn to do things normally through the help of her peers, yet it comes off humbly and humorously instead of an annoying way like other games have done in the past; Alvin, who has to prove his trustworthiness and care multiple times throughout the game; and Elise, who goes from being mentally abused and reserved to finding a home with the rest of the party, this game does an impeccable job at writing its characters. There's also a fantastic cast of villains that may be my favorite in the series. From the silly, stupid rival Ivar and the maniacal Girl in Red to the corrupt rulers Nachtigal and Gaius and their intriguing lackeys, every villain in this game is either formidable, memorable, or both. This game is able to constantly change the perspective of its conflict yet keep the characters consistent throughout, making the villains fantastically written. Overall, this game has an incredible cast of characters, and it is currently second only to Tales of Vesperia, my favorite character cast in the series (and possibly RPGs in general).

Art & Graphics - 10

This game has a great blend of realism and the anime graphics of earlier entries, making for a timeless look that is still appealing to the eye console generations later. The character designs in this game are incredible, and the environments, battle scenes, and UI top those designs to make for one of the most visually appealing games on the system. This game looks terrific years later and certainly deserves a perfect score.

Music - 8.5

This game isn't an all-time great for me, but it comes close. The original battle themes are phenomenal, the title theme song and cinematic are incredible, and the area themes are all fantastic. My biggest complaint about this soundtrack is that the battle themes get worse and worse as the game progresses because the original arc sets the bar so high. Ultimately, I love this soundtrack, but it isn't quite transcendent.

Sidequests - 7

For a Tales game, a series renowned for its sidequests, this game has very little to offer. However, what it does have is solid enough, and at least its sidequests don't bog the game down like in Tales of Symphonia. Nevertheless, sidequests (dubbed Sub Events) are pretty fetch-questy, and they aren't quite as interesting as the quests present in Tales of Vesperia or Tales of the Abyss. In the end, I like the sidequests here, but they aren't outstanding.

Locations - 7

While this game utilized interconnected zones over a robust world map for a streamlined, shorter Tales experience, this was the right choice for this entry! While the world wasn't vast, the game had a plethora of memorable locations across Auj Oule, Rashugal, and Elympios. I specifically loved the towns of Fennmont, Trigleph, Spirius, anx Xian Du, and the dungeons Kijara Seafalls, Fort Gandala, Helioborg Research Station, the first dungeon in Fennmont, E.S.S Zenethra, and Nachtigal's castle. Sometimes, I'm a big fan of more linear games, and this game does it naturally, so I'm not complaining. Decent locations here!

Quality of Life - 10

This is one of the only games I have played where I have no quality-of-life issues to speak of. This game is perfectly polished. I can only think of two things I could potentially knock: 1) the fact encourages a second playthrough, but they did a great job balancing adding enough content to make a second playthrough worth it and not make a ton of missable story on either side of the coin and 2) there are so many save points that it can potentially become annoying if you try to save at all of them. However, both of these things can also be seen as complete pluses, and honestly, these are more of jokes than anything. This game doesn't have any glaring flaws, so it deserves a perfect score.

Customization System - 10

This game has phenomenal customization options! There are two main ways to upgrade your characters: the Lillium Orb and shop systems are some of my favorite systems of any RPG. The Lillium Orb resembles the Sphere Grid from Final Fantasy X, but on a smaller scale and individualized for each character. This system influences the stats, passive skills, and usable artes of each character, making it more customizable than many other entries in the series. The shop system, where you upgrade different shops to increase their stock, is even better. This allows you to be as powerful as you'd like in one area, but it may come at the cost of another—it's exciting and fun to utilize with five shops (weapons, armor, accessories, items, and food) to upgrade to level 100 with tons of different materials and enemy drops to do so. Ultimately, this game has a lot of depth, and while it may not be as intricate as Tales of Vesperia or Tales of Graces f, I like it better than at least the former—I had so much fun with the Lillium Orb and shop systems in this game.

The Verdict

Fun Factor: 10
Overall Score: 91%
Letter Rating: S+

While this may be one of the most controversial entries in the Tales series, it is a game I adore. With a fantastic battle system and unique customization, this game has unforgettable gameplay. With an extraordinary story and characters, this game will have a lasting impact and leave people instantly wanting to grab the sequel. While the locations are usually docked for being interconnected zones, the format of the story benefited from this choice, making for a snappy and gripping narrative that can be witnessed from two distinct perspectives. While some say this betrays what they love about the series, this game takes everything I loved and trimmed off the fat, even if the sidequests took a noticeable hit. This game is a great game to get into the series with, even if I'd recommend checking out Tales of Vesperia or Tales of Arise to get into the series over this title. While it may change down the line, currently, Tales of Xillia is my favorite game in the series.

Want to check out this underrated masterpiece and support our website in the process? Unfortunately, it is stuck on the PS3, but if you have a PS3, you should definitely pick this game up at the link below!

Tales of Xillia (PS3)

Primary Version: Tales of Xillia (PS3)