No, really, let’s play through this game. Why? Well, don’t those characters look like a bunch of winners to you? More accurately, however, I’m trying this out, because I would like to do the same thing for when Persona 5 eventually comes out. As a result, it would be nice to have a little experience under my belt when I actually write about a JRPG I truly enjoy. Well, I assume I’ll be enjoying Persona 5, but you never know. That being said, this is my first time doing any sort of Let’s Play, so there are going to be some growing pains, I’m afraid, as I figure out how to write these posts. The way I see it, the most important thing is figure out a balance between providing as much detail as I can and still making sure I can get these posts out in a timely manner. After all, I don’t want to be writing about Tales of Xillia months and months from now. Plus, if this Let’s Play goes well, I may even want to cover other games.
Needless to say, this will be a screenshot-dominated Let’s Play. I could certainly do videos with voice commentary, but c’mon, I think we all know what JRPGs are like, i.e. there are hours and hours of pointless random battles for no other reason than to pad the game’s length. Seeing as how I’m doing this solo, I don’t think it’d be very interesting to listen to me ramble on and on as I grind through any given dungeon. Still, this game certainly has its share of cinematics that screenshots would fail to capture adequately. To make up for that, I may upload just the most important scenes onto a Youtube account or something. For the most part, however, I’ll stick to just screenshots.
With the logistical stuff out of the way, why Tales of Xillia? In my younger days, I played the crap out of Tales of Phantasia and Tales of Symphonia. In fact, if you’re a JRPG fan, who hasn’t played the crap of Tales of Symphonia? So even though I haven’t played some of the series’ newer games, I’m still in somewhat familiar territory. More importantly, however, the Tales of… series have a distinct style to them that will help most anime fans feel somewhat at home. You’ll quickly see what I mean.
Tales of Xillia actually came out in Japan about three years ago, but for some reason, it took Namco Bandai Games two years to bring it overseas. From what I’ve heard, the game did relatively well in its homeland, so I’m not sure why its localization took so long. Ah well. The truth is, JRPGs just aren’t too big anymore in the West. When the game finally came out, it garnered solid but unspectacular reviews. That’s pretty much how I would describe the Tales of… series as a whole, to be honest. They tend to be solid but unspectacular games with equally solid but unspectacular game mechanics.
For instance, a combat system that may have been revolutionary back in the SNES days has remained largely unchanged since then. Tales Studio, the developer, has obviously fleshed the battle system out since then, but these are minor refinements at best. Ah, but what is the battle system? I’ll talk about that more when I get into the game. Other solid but unspectacular game mechanics include the much-loved skits, but again, I’ll get into that later. That being said, let’s get into the game.
The story begins as we plunge through the clouds towards a thick, dense forest. Eventually, we follow a flight of stairs until we stumble upon…
…well, I imagine it’s a temple of sorts. This looks like no temple I’ve ever seen, though. Still, we’re intrepid adventurers, so let’s enter the damn thing anyway. What’s the worst that could happen? Inside the temple, we find ourselves a hot anime babe:
And oh dear, there appears to be a snake stalking her:
What an ominous start to my happy-go-lucky JRPG already. But wait, wait… it sounds like the girl has something she wants to say. Let’s listen to her monologue. After all, it’s bound to be rich with clues about the story to come.
“The spirits are dying.”
You don’t say… The girl starts to get up when our snake buddy suddenly tries to make a move on the girl:
Aaaaaaand snake bro is quickly vaporized by, uh, whatever this thing is. Poor snake bro. But what can I say? Our hot anime babe’s not about to let some serpent get the best of her. With snake bro out of the way, the hot anime babe continues,
“I fear the power of spyrix is behind this. We should investigate. So, how long has it been, six years? Time sure flies. Come! Fennmont awaits!”
I love broken, disjointed sentences! As the girl opens a set of double doors, however, a bunch of colorful spirits appear behind her.
The Tales of series typically feature the same set of djinns in every game. They’re kind of like the summons in the Final Fantasy series if you’re more familiar with those games. Either way, both sets of elemental spirits tend to serve the same function: flashy and overpowered spells at some girl’s disposal.
All of a sudden, we now get yet another monologue, but this time, a generic old man is speaking to us.
“When man and spirit coexist, dreams and wishes are fulfilled. Such is the life of all who live in Rieze Maxia, where hope springs eternal.”
Well, it doesn’t get anymore generic than that…
“The spirits have the power to bring man’s wishes to fruition, and in turn, those wishes preserve and protect the spirits’ livelihood.”
In the meantime, we see a bunch of boring fantasy landscapes.
Y’know, trees, water, spiky outcroppings jutting out from the ground, etc.
“Therefore, it could be said that Maxwell, the lord of the spirits, is in fact the guardian of all things.”
Really? Maxwell? You couldn’t pick a more compelling name than Maxwell? And here’s the goddess of truth… Jane!
“In this world, no known evil exists that could threaten this harmonious cycle.”
Well, that’s nic-…
“But if one did, perhaps it might lurk in the hearts of men…”
Fucking patriarchy! The anime subtly cuts from the beautiful landscapes of nature to a shot of a city — Fennmont, in fact — because that’s where men’s evil hearts reside, obviously. Men and their technology are always perverting the natural order of things, and JRPGs will never let this matter rest until we all go back to living in huts and fishing for our daily sustenance.
We now cut to the inside of some school just as the bell has rung. Students begin to file out of their classes when some clumsy idiot bumps into all of them, sending papers flying in every which direction:
I’m sure he’s just one of those evil men with their equally evil hearts. Look at how he litters! He’s literally raping nature with his littering! Still, meet our mild-mannered shounen hero:
He continues to bump into people and apologize to them. I wonder what he’s in such a hurry for. It is at this point, however, that the game allows you to pick to play as either the hot anime babe, or the lame-o shounen we’ve just been introduced to. But hey, let’s meet them again anyway:
Yes, her name is Milla, and she’s “wise beyond her years.” She’s an old soul, basically. I looked it up and she’s only 20. Wise indeed. And ugh, take a look at the girl’s waist. It’s not that she’s thin and sexy. It’s that she looks like an alien. It just looks ridiculous. Her hair too is equally ridiculous. As for our hero…
Jude. Jude Law, MD at your service. No, really, he’s a medical student. I also looked up his age and our mild-mannered shounen is only fifteen. Normally, you’d think a romance might spring up between the two main characters of a JRPG, but yeah, I don’t think any 20-year-old girl will wanna hook up with a 15-year-old kid even if he is a medical student. But gosh, who to pick, who to pick…? Seeing as how I’m Asian, I’m going to have to make my parents proud and play as the medical student. Fulfill my destiny! Become a doctor! When I confirm my selection to play as Jude Law, the guy even fist pumps and exclaims, “Okay, let’s go!” Ezreal, is that you? Nevertheless, our journey begins.
Our mild-mannered hero spots a fellow classmate with his books and papers all over the ground (probably because the hero bumped into the poor guy):
C’mon, help him! You’re the generic JRPG hero! You gotta help every damn chump out there! The following conversation then ensues:
Jude Law: “You okay? Those documents must be for the registrar’s office.”
Random classmate: “Yeah, thanks for helping out. You sure you have time for this? Don’t you have residency training with Professor Haus?”
Don’t you mean Dr. House? I mean, c’mon, I wouldn’t put it past the localization team…
Jude Law: “Don’t worry about that. You’re in a rush too, aren’t you?”
Random classmate: “Shoot, you’re right. Thanks again! You better get moving, too!”
Jude Law: “Right. Crap, I’m gonna be late!”
At this point, I can finally control my character and run about the place. Again, I’m currently in Fennmont. More specifically, I’m in the Talim Medical School where I’m sure Jude Law does his studies. You can try and explore the place, but there’s honestly little to see at this point in time. Hell, there aren’t even any random chests lying about for me to open and loot indiscriminately. At this point, I should mention that I’m not using any guide or walkthrough for this Let’s Play. I’ll look up some minor story details like how old the characters are, but I won’t be getting any actual gameplay help from anyone. So if you’ve played this game before, and you can’t help but notice that I’ve missed a secret, ah well. It’s not the end of the world if I don’t get a 100% completion on some generic JRPG.
In any case, there are plenty of faceless NPCs to “talk” to at the moment, but they have nothing important to say but random flavor text about Maxwell, the use of mana, mana lobes, etc. After “chatting” with a handful of them, I got tired of the exercise, and quickly moved on with the story.
After leaving the medical school, again, you can run around and explore the city if you want.
But again, there’s still little to see. Besides, I’ve got my residency to worry about! Residency! As such, I’m going to enter that big building to the left of me in the screenshot above. Ah, why if it isn’t Professor Haus!
Jude Law: “Professor Haus, are you leaving?”
Haus: “Well, look who decided to show up.”
Jude Law: “Um, yeah. Sorry I’m late.”
Haus: “Worry not, lad.”
The only time I ever hear the word “lad” is in these generic JRPGs…
Haus: “Now, keep this between us, but I’ve been asked to help down at the lab. Top-secret research, they say!”
Uh-oh… whenever there’s a top-secret laboratory in a JRPG, it’s always a bad omen. But hey, Professor Haus is smart, right? So he wouldn’t let himself fall into such an obvious trap.
Jude Law: “A request right from Orda Palace?! Wow!”
Haus: “I need you to keep an eye on things until I get back. You can handle it, lad. Only patients with appointments will be coming in today.”
Yeah, the rest of you idiots who just got sick or injured at a short notice will have to deal and suck it up.
Jude Law: “Wha–? … Oh, right! I need you to sign my class-credit form.”
Haus: “Your graduation thesis is coming along, I presume?”
Jude Law: “More or less. I should have the first draft ready by Ignis.”
Haus: “That’s cutting things close, don’t you think? The end of a race is no time to start slowing down. After all, I’m planning to make you my top assistant after you graduate.”
Really? We’re talking about a graduation thesis at the start of this JRPG? I’m beginning to regret picking our medical student over the hot anime babe. Where’s the action? Where’s the excitement?
Jude Law: “Thank you, Professor!”
Haus: “I’ll be back in a few hours.”
Nah, you won’t. If I know my JRPG, Haus won’t be back at all. Still, Jude Law starts to whine, “So much for an easy day.” You’re a medical student, buddy. Get ready to put in 20 hours every day for your residency. Don’t worry about all the dialogue you’re seeing right now, though. In the future, I won’t transcribe every single conversation I see, especially if the main character is just talking to a bunch of nobodies.
I get control of my character again at this point. All you get to do, however, is run to some room and perform your duties as a doctor. You know, check up on Haus’s patients and stuff.
Medicine here doesn’t appear to be very similar to the medicine in our world. Rather, people get injured trying to channel spirits or something, since lately, the spirits have been a tad bit out of control. Gee, I wonder if there’s something in the air. After seeing a handful of patients, our 15-year-old kid asks a nurse if it’s okay for him to really treat all of these people all by his lonesome. I agree. Jude Law is no Doogie Howser. All of a sudden, another guy barges into the room, desperately looking for Haus:
Is something wrong?! Nah. Haus has just been chosen for some prestigious award, so he’s desperately needed… for some reason. Maybe the award will go to someone else if Haus doesn’t respond in time. Still, our professor hasn’t quite made it back yet from that top-secret laboratory… It’s thus up to our mild-mannered shounen to go look for the professor. And obviously, I can’t do it in my scrubs. Jude Law thus changes his clothes in an instant:
Aw yeah, now I’m looking like a JRPG badass. Time to retrieve our professor from the top-secret laboratory. Oh, I’m sure there won’t be any fighting or anything in there… On the way to the top-secret laboratory, Jude Law randomly talks to himself. He doesn’t say anything all too interesting. Just stuff about how amazing it is that Haus has won the Howe Prize. Still, this is another feature of the Tales of… series. As you wander around the world, the main character and his allies will randomly engage in light-hearted banter. Compared to most RPGs, this keeps the game from feeling too lonely, I guess. After all, you’re running around with a host of people, so it’d be rather odd if nobody actually talked to one another. Even though this feature doesn’t make the Tales of… games brilliant by any stretch, it’s a nice touch.
Eventually, our hero makes his way to the entrance of the top-secret laboratory. I don’t think it comes to anyone’s surprise, however, that the guards stationed out front won’t let anyone through.
Try as he might, the guards won’t let Jude Law through. One of them even says that the professor had already left a long time ago. Our medical student’s a smart cookie, though, so he takes a look at the sign-in sheet to compare the professor’s handwriting…
Fishy… But what can you do? You can’t exactly accuse a government laboratory of any funny business. Jude Law thus has no choice but to slink away with his tail between his legs.
After wandering around for a short bit with nothing to do, the lights around Jude Law start to flicker. Y’see, in this universe, even the lamp posts are powered by spirits. As a result, if the lights are going out, it means something’s wrong with the aetheric balance or some silly JRPG nonsense like that.
More importantly, however, a convenient gust of wind brings our hero’s attention to the body of water beneath him. There, he spots Anime Jesus making her way across the surface of the water:
Oh hey, it’s our hot anime babe from earlier! Gosh, what is she doing here? I mean, I knew she was headed for Fennmont, but why is she walking across the water? It turns out the girl intends to infiltrate the top-secret laboratory, and we all know the best way to gain access to a highly-secured, classified area is through its sewer system. If you’re looking to do some stealthy infiltration, however, I don’t think walking across the water and leaving a trail of lights behind you is the most inconspicuous way to go about it. Not only that, Milla proceeds to blow open the gates to the sewer system. Luckily for her, nobody hears or sees this happening… other than Jude Law, of course. We all know JRPG guards are more or less blind. Nevertheless, our hero can’t help but approach the girl and see what she’s up to.
Jude Law: “Uh, hi.”
Ooh, great start, buddy.
Milla: “Just keep quiet, and I won’t need to hurt you.”
Jude Law: “Wait, why are you breaking into the lab? What are you…
Unamused by our medical student’s inability to follow simple directions, Milla literally drowns the guy in a magical bubble of water:
Again, no one seems to notice these two individuals just hanging around a sewer entrance, making a whole lot of noise.
Milla: “That’s strange. What part of “keep quiet” didn’t you understand? So, ready to hold your tongue now?”
Jude nods, so Milla releases him.
Milla: “So much noise. Could you try coughing quietly?”
I’m sorry, I just happen to be drowning to death. But please, allow me to gasp for air like a gentleman.
Milla: “What are you doing here, anyway?”
I-i-is she really asking him a question just after attempting to drown him for talking? Christ, what do you want, woman!
Jude Law: “Can I talk? I dropped something. I was just picking it up. See?”
Milla turns to enter the sewers.
Jude Law: “What are you up to? The guards will be here any second.”
Milla: “That’s why I need to hurry, and you need to go home… Before they arrest you for trespassing.”
Jude Law: “Oh…”
Despite his defeated “oh,” Jude Law follows the girl into the sewers. Can anyone say stalker? And thus begins our very first dungeon. Oh, don’t worry. The sewer part to the dungeon doesn’t last very long. Still, it’s pretty lame to start out here anyway. And like every sewer system in every JRPG ever, the place is fucking massive:
And well-lit, too. You never know if you’ll ever need to hang out in a dark, dank sewer system, y’know? So you gotta make yourself feel at home. Naturally, even though our hero had quickly followed Milla into the sewer system, he’s already lost sight of her. Girl moves like a banshee, I guess. As such, it’s up to us to explore the place solo.
Jude Law: “Anyway, I need to find the professor and tell him about the award.”
Really? Is the award so important that you would plumb the depths of a top-secret laboratory’s sewer system just to find the guy? But like any dungeon ever, there are random shit just lying about for no good reason. Sure enough, I stumble upon my first “treasure:”
A-alright… spiderwebs… just what the doctor ordered. I then find myself a ratty, old cape in a chest that’s been sitting in running water for god only knows how long:
But hey, let’s equip it anyway. I’m sure the cape is perfectly sanitary. Top-secret laboratories aren’t known for their filth.
From time to time, it may look as though there are corridors one may explore, but upon closer inspection, you’ll find that they’re blocked off by streams of sewer water:
Sure, I’m about to embark on a quest where the fate of the entire world hangs in the balance, but I’m afraid sewer water is a little too much for this JPRG hero to withstand. Therefore, I can only turn around and take the linear path available to me.
Eventually, I come across a stationed guard even though the sewer is normally cordoned off from the outside world by an iron gate. As such, why is it even necessary to station a guard down here in the sewers? Ah well…
Sewer guard: “Hey, kid! Who let you in?”
Jude Law: “Err, uh, I sorta let myself in. Sorry for the intrusion.”
Wow, way to just admit your guilt right from the get-go.
Sewer guard: “Hmph, I should be taking you to security, but you seem courteous enough.”
Wait, really? Wow, I guess being nice does go a long way.
Sewer guard: “Come on. I’ll take you to the exit.”
Yeah, you may have broken into the place, but hey, I’ll let it slide this time. But we can’t leave without the professor! Let’s try that polite thing again and just outright tell the guard that you’re looking for a very important person. What could go wrong?
Jude Law: “Wait! I’m looking for Professor Haus. I think he’s still here.”
Sewer guard: “Oh, so you know the professor, do you? Yeah, he’s still here.”
Why on earth would some lowly sewer guard be privy to such details? You over there! Go guard the sewers! By the way, here’s a list of people who are still here at this laboratory in case anyone ever asks…
Sewer guard: “You really shouldn’t be wandering around here, kid. I oughta get in touch with your parents.”
Jude Law: “My family doesn’t live around here. They’re all back in my hometown.”
Why are we talking about this? What does this have to do with anything? All of a sudden, however, this nugget of information spurs the sewer guard to adopt an aggressive, fighting stance.
Good to know, so now I’m going to kill you? What? You were just gonna let me go a minute ago! But you heard that my parents aren’t around, so it’s like, “Welp, time to commit homicide!”
Jude Law: “What?!”
Sewer Guard: “Relax. Come quietly and you won’t get hurt.”
Jude Law: “Why are you doing this? Wait, does this mean you’re holding the professor, too?!”
Sewer Guard: “I said come quietly, kid.”
Aaaaaand we have our first battle. If you’ve never played a Tales of… game before, but you’ve played other JRPGs, the battle system here was originally a huge departure from the Final Fantasy-esque turn-based battles where each side would stand still in a line and attack each other one-by-one when their turn is up. In a way, it’s still somewhat turn-based here, but it has been concealed somewhat by the illusion of movement.
Yes, you’re allowed to run around the battlefield, but it hardly amounts to much of anything except in the hardest battles… which this is clearly not. Also, I suppose the battle system is a bit more action-packed, because you can run up to the enemy and press the X-button to attack them. This makes the game feel a bit like a fighting game, I guess, but there aren’t any special combos to pull off. Rather, special moves are done by merely pressing the O-button. For now, Jude Law has only one special move at his disposal, and that’s Demon Fist.
The battle tutorial system will make it seem like you can chain together some impressive combos in order to subdue your enemies, and certainly, you can and will. But again, this only matters in the harder battles against some of the game’s toughest bosses. Against these weak, early-game enemies, every encounter pretty much boils down to DEMONFISTDEMONFISTDEMONFIST until the enemy slumps to the ground utterly defeated by a medical student. Exciting! After the battle, you get EXP, gold (it’s called Gald in the Tales of… series), and whatever spoils of war you may find.
Good stuff. And yes, a 15-year-old just Demon Fisted his way through a heavily-armored guard and his guard dog. What happens to the guard, you ask? I dunno, he’s probably dead or something. If he’s not actually dead, he will be when the sewer rats pay him a visit. In any case, Jude Law has a professor to save, so we’ve no time to worry about some generic NPC. Eventually, our hero makes his way into the laboratory proper.
Yeah, he says that, but don’t believe Jude Law’s lies. The rooms are all locked anyway. There’s really only one way to go. Even when you get a keycard later, it’ll only open like half of the locked doors you come across. The thing is, JRPGs really only give you the illusion of freedom. In the end, the path is entirely linear. Although I’m bringing this up, it doesn’t really bother me. I guess I’m just used to it.
On this floor, you’ll run into some more enemies, but nothing a 15-year-old medical student can’t handle. Eventually, I spot a mysterious loli in red entering a room. Well, gee, seeing as how this is a game from Japan, gotta go stalk that loli…
…but not before I pick up these delightful chunks of wood just floating next to this wall.
Finally, I enter that room the mysterious loli in red had entered. Not only is the entire place all dark and scary-looking, it’s filled with these liquid-filled tanks:
Our hero soon discovers, however, that liquid is not the only thing in these tanks…
Professor! Now is no time to goof around! You have an award to accept!
D-does this mean you won’t be on my thesis committee? Welp, the evil JRPG laboratory trope strikes again. You don’t even hear the professor speak, though, so I’m not sure sure how Jude Law can understand anything Haus is saying. Maybe like Tatsuya of Mahouka fame, our medical student can read lips. Needless to say, the professor is done for. The lights suddenly come on, and our hero realizes he’s in a room full of trapped victims.
Soylent green is people!
Well, no, not really…
Crazy girl: “Your expression… It’s priceless! I love the look of fear in your eyes!”
Ah, great. This girl comes from a long line of “Let’s take a cute girl and make her crazy! Wow, what a juxtaposition! In fact, we’ll do it over and over!” See Harlequinn. See Jinx from League of Legends. Needless to say, the crazy girl pulls out a weapon and flashes her panties at us all at the same time:
Gee, thanks, Tales Studio… But alright, it’s time for our very first boss figh–… oh, wouldja look at the time! With this post already clocking in at over 4,000-words, so I’m afraid I’m going to have to take a break here. Tune in next time to see if Jude Law can survive his encounter with the crazy, murderous loli in red.