(PS3 / PlayStation 3)

Tales of Xillia (PS3 / PlayStation 3)

Game Review

Tales of Xillia Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Katy Ellis

A tale worth telling

You may be inclined to disregard Namco Bandai’s latest offering in the Tales series, but although it's the thirteenth main entry in the franchise (not including spin-offs), and bursting with strangely dressed teens with voluptuous hair-dos – as well a few girls who need to be told that strategically placed ribbons don't qualify as adequate clothing – Tales of Xillia is a beautiful, rewarding, and, most importantly, enjoyable adventure.

The story revolves around the journey of two playable characters: hardened spirit wielder Milla Maxwell, and pacifist medical student Jude Mathias. Set in the land of Reize Maxia, where for many years spirits and humans have harmoniously existed side-by-side, our heroes discover a secret facility draining mana from humans to power an evil weapon called the spyrix. Milla, the physical embodiment of the mystical Lord Maxwell, journeys to Fennmont to destroy the device, where she encounters young Jude, and the two become entangled in a quest to return mana to the world.

Tales of Xillia provides you with the option to play as both of the protagonists, each offering a slightly different story viewpoint, and featuring some unique scenes. Not only does this encourage replayability, something rare for a 40 plus hour campaign, but it's also an intriguing feature, where the two main characters’ stories perfectly complement each other. However, it must be noted that the vast bulk of the two campaigns are exactly the same, and not all players will be determined enough to skip through the same dialogue sequences a second time to experience the minor deviations.

The majority of your time with the game will be spent questing, shopping, exploring, grinding, and excitedly soaking up the scenery. Xillia features a nice new addition to the levelling system called the lilium orb, a Final Fantasy X-style web which can be expanded and customised to your own preferences, unlocking new sets of skills along the way.

The combat system has also been improved, with the addition of linked artes, a feature where two characters combine to fight and perform special moves once a gauge has been filled, dealing devastating blows to the opponent. Brawling as a team and pulling off linked artes is very rewarding, although the attacks can be a little tricky to execute at times.

The release's combat is one of its best features, though, being both dynamic and strategic. Monster battles are optional, as the foes appear on land, so can be avoided if preferred. Characters can freely run around the battlefield, such as in Ni No Kuni, which makes each individual clash feel exciting and energetic. Battle strategy can also be setup so that a fellow computer-controlled teammate will guard your back in combat at all times, and any character can be selected to work as a healer.

If you're new to the series – or the genre as a whole – the game is equipped with plenty of optional tutorials to keep you informed during harder battles, and it gradually eases you into the moment-to-moment gameplay. However, the combat difficulty curve is slightly off, as you'll happily hack through hordes of monsters, and then be pitted against an extremely strong boss, often forcing you to backtrack and grind for a while before challenging the adversary again. This is made easier by the random appearance of bronze, silver, and gold bacuras – strange, square enemies that reward you with plenty of XP once slaughtered.

The bright anime-style visuals fit perfectly with the dreamy and colourful fantasy settings, which thankfully have aged well in the past two years since the game's original release. From the picturesque, tranquil shores of Kijara Seafalls, to the Eastern-infused spiritual village of Nia Khera and beyond, the title consistently wows with one beautiful setting after another. There are also some absolutely stunning anime cinematics, which, although few and far between, always leave you eager for another dose. While there are some minor visual pop-in issues, most noticeable in busy town areas where salesmen randomly jump into view in front of you, and some slightly stiff character animations outside of combat, this shouldn't put you off an otherwise gorgeous gaming experience.

It benefits from a great team of voice-actors, too, who have lent their voices to the majority of the major dialogue sequences and all of the skits, even if the speech isn't always perfectly lip-synced. The cast have a great rapport, with some humorous and often cheeky banter between the stars. Furthermore, the adventure boasts a lovely soundtrack, with a heavily oriental influence, and while not always memorable, each track projects the perfect atmosphere for every individual in-game town and village.


Energetic combat and awe-inspiring settings make Tales of Xillia a highly enjoyable title. It may not be the best in the series, but there's still plenty of fun to be had – twice if you dare to play through the campaign as both Jude and Milla. This is a must-buy for Tales fans, a good entry point for newcomers, and an all-around excellent JRPG.

Game Trailer

User Comments (24)



rjejr said:

Somehow I don't think I've ever played a Tales game. I may have started one on the Gamecube but I was immediately and devastatingly crushed about 15 minutes into the game in the 1st cave and that was that.

Need to research more. And I still need to play Ni No Kuni. Or maybe I should skip Ni No Kuni for this.



belmont said:

I have this game preordered! Looking forward to it. The more jrpgs the better. Also I read today that (after Meruru) Rorona will be ported to Vita. Also the Legend of Heroes series move from PSP to Vita/PS3.



zipmon said:

Awesome review Katy! It'll be a while before I get to play this (I still have to start Ni No Kuni! =O) but I'm really looking forward to it! Looks absolutely beautiful and the new battle system sounds like a blast!



get2sammyb said:

Top stuff, Katy. Not sure this sounds like my cup of tea, to be honest, but I do like the art style.



ShogunRok said:

I'm torn on JRPGs these days. I played Tales of Graces f to the end, and by that point it felt like a chore. Some of the characters are incredibly annoying and the plot is beyond repair. I do hear Xillia is considered more mature, though, in terms of story and cast.



Gemuarto said:

Locations are to deserted and generic. Looks like cheap japanese game for PC from 2001-2005. Even in Xenoblade locations were prettier. And this is just cheap beyond imagination =(.



ViciousDS said:

been playing this the last week and must say its probably my favorite tales game since playing tales of symphonia on the Gamecube.



MadchesterManc said:

I might give this a try when I finish Hyperdimension Neptunia V. To be honest Ive never really been a fan of the Tales series. The few Ive tried previously have never really clicked n have seemed a chore to play through. Ive still yet to play thru Time & Eternity so it may be a toss up when it comes to buying either. I hear good things of Xillia so it may be worth one last chance for Tales



Zombie_Barioth said:

Which ones did you try? Haven't played every one myself but from what I've heard they're kinda hit or miss. Even the "worst" games in the series have their fans.



Superconsole said:

@Snorky I checked during the review and could only find English dub I'm afraid, but the voice acting is pretty good so I wouldn't worry too much



ShogunRok said:

@Zombie_Barioth @MadchesterManc

The Tales series is very hit and miss in my opinion. I've played the majority of them, and for me, nothing has beaten Tales of Symphonia back on the GameCube. Vesperia is good as well, but it's only available on Xbox 360 in the west. It was released on PS3 in Japan with extra content, but that edition never made it over here.

Graces f on PS3 is alright, but for me it all felt a bit too 'kiddy' compared to other Tales games. Some of the cast are annoying as heck, and the plot is predictable. Still, battle system is great just like in all the Tales titles.

I'd say on PS3, Xillia and the upcoming Symphonia HD are the ones you want to go for if you're interested.



FullbringIchigo said:

man such a shame I can't afford it until the Friday after it's release, I'm going to miss out on the day one edition ;(



Zodiak13 said:

Finally will buy only my 4th PS3 game in the 3 years I've owned it. and @rjejr I must say Ni No Kuni is outstanding and a can't miss for jrpg lovers and rpg lovers in general. This is coming from a guy who really dislikes Sony (yes I still own all the systems because there are still a few games I want to play on them, like this one). Seems like standard Tales fare but that isn't neccesarily a bad thing.



Cloud7794 said:

Loving it so far, I do have 2 complaints though. My first is the link system: it's great but makes multiplayer with anymore than 1 other player a hassle. When you link with a character, that other character changes from manual (controller) movement to auto-action automatically. Playing with 3 other friends would completely disallow use of the link artes and overlimit system it seems. My second complaint... Teepo. That is all XP Otherwise an amazing game so far, only about 20hrs in in hard mode and find it very fun and an improvement on Graces.



Madmanonfire said:

After playing through on moderate, I can safely say the difficulty curve complaint has no merit. I've only fought a few bosses that gave me a lot of trouble, one of them being an optional boss that I fought too early. I fought more easier bosses than harder bosses in the main story because I took the time explore each area, looking for materials and killing stuff for the awesome shop system that should've been mentioned in the review.
Besides, the whole point of a boss is to be challenging. If you could beat them as easily as a regular enemy, that would detract from the game and you would have no need to ever use the many items you get throughout the game. I've never found so many Treats and Specifics in a Tales game before and I'm glad the game pressured me into using them during challenging boss fights. As long as you make good use of food, don't rush through the game, and play smartly, bosses won't be unfairly difficult.
Though the game can still be an 8 because of Teepo. Most annoying weird companion yet...



soaringboy said:

@Cloud7794 about the Teepo thing, can't be more agree with you LOL!!
Already 30 hours in Jude 1st play through and i'm really enjoying it..

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