Your journeys have taken you to many different lands. You’ve been in the world of Terca Lumireis, Sykvarant, and many others — this time, however, you’ll have to return to Reize Maxia and Elympios for one final journey in Tales of Xillia 2.
Tales of Xillia 2 is one of the most recent titles in a collection of RPGs that has been filling us with amazing stories and gameplay for a long, long time. The game, a sequel to the original Tales of Xillia, takes place in the same setting. Despite this, there’s enough new content here to keep things fresh.
Fans of the original will immediately notice that the party from the original game make their re-appearance in this one. Jude, Milla, Leia, Alvin, and the rest of your Xillia pals are back in this sequel, and you’ll also be able to take command of Gaius and Muzet, two characters who were unplayable in the last title, and most likely brought into the party due to high demand by the fans.
The battle system is very similar to the one in Tales of Xillia. This franchise has always done its best to carry a unique feel, which separates it from other RPGs. The question is: do you have to play the first game in order to understand this title?
The answer is… not really? Let’s be honest, this is a sequel but isn’t something that new players can’t step into. One thing that you’ll notice is that the game definitely nods to the events in the original game, however much of the back story from that time is shown to the player through various skits that pop up in game.
These skits are a great way to deliver information to the player in a way that also develops characters and relationships. In this case, there are little pop up skits that show up in the bottom left, where party members will talk to each other without you having to press the select button, and these usually go along with important locations in the story.
So what are the main pros and cons of the game? Well, for starters the story is a major plus, as the plot doesn’t seem pointless at all. Sometimes when a developer decides on a sequel, the result can come out feeling forced. However, this isn’t the case at all with Xillia 2.
The way that you’re allowed to explore Elympios (which was an area in the first game that you didn’t spend that much time in), along with the way that we get to see what became of our original heroes, how they fit in with our new protagonist, and how the world was affected by the actions in the first game, is just really thrilling.
Speaking of Ludger, there is something that has to be said about his character. This game is designed around choice. Often, you’ll be presented with a pop up that makes you choose between two things for Ludger to say. Now this is an awesome feature, and it does have its consequences and differences, however this leads to one of the cons I previously mentioned.
Ludger is a mute. He doesn’t speak when you choose the words for him to say. The annoying part about this is that he isn’t mute in context to the story. You hear him say his attack names and grunt and all of that during battles, and he’ll even occasionally let out a short reply like “yeah” or “all right.” Ludger has the ability to speak and what makes it all the much more painful is knowing that when you start New Game Plus, you can buy Ludger’s voice using Grade (which is a point system that you gain during your first playthrough) so that when you make a choice for him, he’ll actually speak out that choice.
So if all of the lines were recorded for him to speak, and Tales games are generally very character driven games, what was the point in making him so quiet, and making it so that players have to play the game twice to get the full experience?
Speaking of things that hinder the full experience of the game, let’s talk about debt. When you buy a game from Gamestop or wherever you do, that should be the end of the transaction right? You should be able to play the game through without any monetary blocks stopping you from finishing.
Well, that is, and isn’t the case with this title. Without adding spoilers, early on in the game Ludger comes under a great debt, and throughout the game you’ll have to pay off that debt. Now, if this was just some sort of thing implemented into the game to give you cool rare loot when you pay off a certain amount of debt, then awesome. The amount of money that you owe is so astronomical, that you honestly feel like at some point it’ll just go away, and the developers even poke fun at this, by giving you a surprise ending if you manage to somehow pay it all off.
The biggest issue with this debt system though, is that it blocks your progress. That’s right, at different points in the game, you’ll HAVE to pay off a section of your debt to continue playing. Put yourself in this position: You have 6000 Gald, you fill up on Apple Gels, Orange Gels, Life Bottles, and that right there will cost you nearly all of your money. Now, you go to an area where there is a boss, and after the cutscenes at the end of the chapter, you’re told to “Make a Payment on your debt,” but you only have 3000 Gald now, and the payment you need to make is 15,000.
This is pretty limiting, and seems completely pointless. Why put up a road block to keep people from advancing in the game? Sure, the game provides a job system that allows you to take on jobs in order to get money, but these tend to be annoying tasks that force you to grind for long durations of time, or travel to far away locations for a small reward.
The saving grace of this, though, is the Elite Monster system. Elite Monsters are crazy powerful monsters (think of the Giganto Monsters from Vesperia) that you get a huge reward from defeating. Problems arise again because even after defeating these guys, that money tends to go straight to your debt and it just feels like you were cheated out of your winnings.
Apart from those issues, the game is very solid. The fighting is tight, the enemies remain smart and the difficult varies from enemy to enemy. The party is diverse with different groups of mages and warrior type class characters, and the story is rich with world building and the sense of urgency and adventure that we’re used to in this series.
So, should you pick up this game? If you’re a fan of RPGs, you definitely shouldn’t sleep on the series and on this entry in particular. Don’t let the anime style fool you, this isn’t the kiddy version of Final Fantasy — Tales of titles are heavy weights in their own class.
If you’re looking for a starting point into this franchise, Tales of Xillia 2 is your go-to title. The gripping story, unique battle system, and fun characters will keep you coming back for more, over and over again.