Tales of Xillia was the first game I ever played in the Tales series. Partway through, I realized it wouldn’t be the last. Xillia was enough to hook me on the action RPG series.
The game follows two protagonists, Jude Mathis and Milla Maxwell. At the start of the game, you’re asked to choose one as your main character, though the differences are slight. For the most part, Jude and Milla’s stories are the same, with only a few sections of the game where their paths diverge. I played Jude’s story.
Xillia’s action-based combat relies on combos made from both basic attacks and special “Artes” attacks, but its link system gives it a unique flavor that makes it stand out. Characters in your battle party can link with one another to perform certain linked attacks. It’s an entertaining system which I quite enjoyed.
The game world is a series of interconnected maps. While the areas weren’t large enough to allow for a great deal of exploration (and personally, I miss the classic “overworld” world map style of older games), there were enough scattered treasure chests and items to make traveling interesting.
When it comes to an RPG, though, I always look toward the characters and plot. In true JRPG fashion, Tales of Xillia’s plot starts out simple Milla is on a mission to destroy a dangerous super weapon and gradually becomes more and more complex. The story faltered as it approached the end, and things were wrapped up a little too easily for my liking, but what really made Xillia shine for me were its characters and their interactions.
As you play Tales of Xillia, occasionally you’ll be prompted to watch an optional ‰ÛÏskit.‰Û These skits are short conversations between the party members, and they were fantastic. I was surprised by how funny they often were, because I didn’t know the Tales series had such a good sense of humor. Several times, I laughed out loud, and the humor really helped the cast win me over.
The characters themselves are fairly strong, with the exception of the animated doll Teepo, whose voice and attitude I found painfully annoying. Everyone else was good enough to overcome my dislike of Teepo, though.
Especially King Gaius. Gaius is a great character, and really the reason Tales of Xillia impressed me as much as it did. Fantasy stories have a tendency to depict two types of kings. There’s the intimidating conqueror, and then there’s the benevolent king who truly loves his people and would do anything for them.
Tales of Xillia has Gaius, the intimidating conqueror who truly loves his people and would do anything for them. He simultaneously seems like someone who would protect you to his last breath, and someone you absolutely do not want to cross. While technically an antagonist (though at certain times, he’s the party’s ally), Gaius is portrayed as a generally good person. These shades of gray fascinated me, and really made Xillia stand out.
Tales of Xillia isn’t a perfect game, but it has fun gameplay, a great cast of characters, and a strong sense of humor. I’d recommend it to any fan of action RPGs.