If in any case the Japanese roleplaying game is in the middle of an extended identity crisis and Final Fantasy Versus XIII’s recent promotion to next mainline title in the genre-defining series is the latest indication this might be the case then it’s one that Tales of Xillia appears relieved by.
Something is troubling the spirits in the latest in Namco Bandai’s Tales series. So springs the story of a witch and an apprentice spiritual surgeon as they board on an epic quest across the magical world of Rieze Maxia.
The fans will easily be able to distinguish the hallmarks of the Japanese role-player, with Tales of Xillia even introducing streamlined real-time combat and a flexible leveling system.
It’s no Skyrim, but anyone looking for a regression to the good old days of the J-RPG should find themselves well served.
Whereas Tales of Xillia is meant for fans for Japanese manga and anime, the game has by now inspired four manga adaptations by its characters evade the medium’s many clichés and are generally likeable.
The story, which has its eastern spiritual and metaphysical overtones, may fail to arrest the imagination as a whole, but the moment-by-moment interactions between its characters are engaging and frequently well written and framed.
There is, on the other hand, certain drawback to the game when set against recent high points in the genre. There’s none of Xenoblade Chronicles’ restless ingenuity, little of Dragon Quest’s or Ni No Kuni’s earthy connection, and the game’s meager side expedition weak in comparison with those found within the likes of Final Fantasy XIII-2.
The interesting thing left in the game is, smartly streamlined, a thoroughly orthodox game within a well-established type, a hidey-hole within a hidey-hole that’s getting smaller all the time.