When we last left off, our 15-year-old shounen hero had become a fugitive. More importantly, a third person joined our little group, but can he be trusted? First things first, however, our heroes will have to calm the sailors down:
New Guy: “Come on. Do you really think a pipsqueak, a pretty girl, and a dashing man like me would be up to no good?”
Every rogue out there thinks he’s dashing. I blame Han Solo for that. Wait a minute… pipsqeak, pretty girl, dashing rogue…! Let’s just hope Jude and Milla aren’t siblings.
New Guy: “It’s Alvin.”
Alvin: “That’s my name. You said that you’re Jude, right?”
What’s up with these bland names in JRPGs nowadays? Alvin the rogue. Alvin the rogue. Alvin the rogue. See, no matter how many times I say it, the guy’s name just doesn’t command any respect. He’s going to be one of the many heroes to save this realm, and his name is Alvin. Alvin, the savior of the world. It… it just doesn’t inspire.
Jude: “Uh, yes sir. And this is Milla.”
Do you just go around telling every stranger you meet your real names?
Alvin: “Hang in there, kid.”
The scene then fades to black… After a short time lapse, we still find ourselves on the boat.
Alvin: “That captain needs to lay off a bit. Is he planning to grill us the entire voyage?”
I’m not sure why he’s surprised by this.
Milla: “What do you expect? We don’t have any sort of identification.”
Alvin: “Speak for yourselves.”
Meanwhile, Jude is looking pretty despondent:
It’s understandable, though; Jude is, after all, just a kid. He’s only 15. If anything, Jude should be even more worked up. One of Tales of Xillia‘s problems — and this is a problem for both JRPGs and anime in general — is that kids just don’t act like kids. Yeah, I get it. Kids are the heroes in these stories. In fact, JRPG leads have rarely been grown-ass men. I used to always think that Cecil of FFIV was at least in his mid-20s. Can you blame me, though? He’s a Dark Knight, one of the king’s trusted men, etc. Naturally, I thought he was a battle-hardened warrior. But after a bit of research, it turns out he was apparently only 20 at the start of FFIV. That’s silly. That’s still a child in my mind. Legally an adult, yes, but a child relative to the rest of the world. Still, a 20-year-old is at least an adult. Recently, I can’t shake the feeling that characters are just getting younger and younger. Lo and behold, we are now playing as a 15-year-old!
I don’t know about you, but teenagers are generally more brash, impulsive, and emotional compared to the rest of us. Uncharacteristically, however, Jude has been all too calm from what I have been able ot see. Yes, he’s been shaken after a battle or two. Yes, he looks a bit sad here. But Jude is still far too collected for a 15-year-old who’s been thrust into this position. His mentor has died, he’s been driven away from his home, and to top it all off, he’s a fugitive! Not only that, he has to depend on a couple of relative strangers. The truth is, this is a fucked up situation! But in JRPG logic… “LOL, just get over it, kid.” People always gripe whenever teenaged protagonists are “whiny,” but what do you expect? They’re teenagers! If you want the hero to take charge, then cast a fucking adult instead. The problem, however, is that we want to eat our cake and have it too. The hero’s young enough that I can live vicariously through his adventures, but he’s also a brave, take-charge individual emotionally equipped to handle everything you throw at him!
Jude: “I can’t believe we’re heading to Auj Oule.”
Alvin: “Look. We’re leaving Fennmont’s spirit clime.”
This is significant because the scenery will suddenly change in an instant:
Just one of the many quirks about the universe.
Alvin: “You said you’re a med student? Didn’t expect that.”
Honestly, no one should.
Jude: “Hey, can I ask you something? Why did you save us? What’s in it for you?”
Alvin: “Well, cash, of course.”
Milla: “How does saving us make you money?”
Alvin: “Simple. I figure you must be in serious trouble if the military’s after you. Now that I’ve swung to your rescue and impressed you with my derring-do, I can charge you for my services.”
Jude: “Charge us what? I’m nearly broke.”
Milla: “Same goes for me, I’m afraid.”
Obviously, no actual mercenary out there is dumb enough to save people and assume that they’ll just get paid later. It’s pretty obvious that Alvin has an agenda, but between our 15-year-old med student and a spirit-turned-hot-anime-babe whose knowledge of mankind comes exclusively from books, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that they’re so trusting of Alvin.
Alvin: “Seriously? I take more than just cash, you know. Don’t you have any precious metals? Jewels? Rich relatives about to croak?”
Jude: “Nothing on me. Everything happened so fast.”
Milla: “I doubt I have anything that would sell for a high price either.”
Jude: “What exactly do you do, Alvin? You look like a soldier, but you sure don’t act like one.”
Alvin: “Heh! You’re on the right track, kid. I’m a mercenary. It’s better than being a soldier. We don’t have to follow orders. We set our own hours. And we help people… for a price.”
Fictional stories always make mercenaries seem like such wholesome people. They just want to help people! For a small compensation, of course… which pretty much describes practically every other job out there.
Milla: “Well, it would seem like you helped us for free.”
Alvin: “Ah, well. It’s a risk of the trade. Maybe I’ll find some paying customers in Auj Oule.”
Honestly, who on earth is that carefree and blase about his lack of compensation? Again, it’s obvious that Alvin is lying through his teeth.
Milla: “Sorry about that.”
Alvin: “Charity work… Wonderful. Are we there yet?”
At this point, the scene comes to an end, and the next time we see our heroes, they will have arrived at the Aladhi Seahaven. These are basically just mini port towns in the Tales of Xillia universe. Not only that, the seahavens pretty much all look the same too — same layout, same architecture, same everything.
Oh yeah, the characters have repeatedly name-dropped locales like Auj Oule and Rashugal for quite some time now. These are two of the countries in the Tales of Xillia universe. Auj Oule used to be made up of various clans vying for dominance, but one king eventually united them or something. Honestly, the history of the world doesn’t concern me all that much.
Jude: “It’s hard to believe we’re in a whole different country. Although it feels just like home.”
Alvin: “Hmm? Well, this part of Auj Oule is hardly what I’d call exotic.”
Jude: “Huh. Hey, there’s a map! Let me check it out for a bit.”
Jude conveniently leaves the picture, which gives Alvin a chance to speak to Milla one-on-one.
Alvin: “Brave kid, the way he plays it cool.”
Milla: “Decided to make the best of it, has he? He’s not as immature as he looks.”
Alvin: “Would it kill you to show a little concern? You dragged him into this, right?”
Milla’s bizarrely thin waist still freaks me out:
Milla: “He’s here of his own accord.”
Throughout the story, Milla will slowly learn what it’s takes to be human. Until then, however, she’ll be cold, uncaring, and rather unforgiving of the people around her. It’s a pretty standard trope in any case. The only difference here is that the cold-hearted warrior is a hot anime babe, so her looks don’t quite line up with her initially cold persona. I mean, why would someone with such a utilitarian outlook on life wear that ridiculous outfit?
Alvin: “Heh, I see. He believes he got himself into this mess, so now he has to put on a brave face.”
Milla just walks away after Alvin says that. I wonder if she just got fed up with the guy.
Alvin: “Either way, he’s still acting like an adult.”
Milla has now joined Jude at the oh-so-interesting map.
Milla: “North of here.”
Alvin: “Hmm… So? You’re leaving now?”
Milla: “No… Alvin, you must be well versed with a sword. Mercenaries like you must have some battle chops.”
Alvin: “Well, yeah, of course.”
Milla: “Could you teach me how to use one? I don’t have the Four to back me up anymore. If I can’t wield a sword, what’s left?”
Alvin: “The Four? Not sure I follow.”
He was there during the whole spyrix incident, so he must have seen Milla summon the Four.
Alvin: “But I’d be more than happy to teach you, if only you had some cash.”
I won’t transcribe the rest of this scene because it just segues into a tutorial of yet another game mechanic. Now that we’ve hit the Aladhi Seahaven, you’ll notice that certain NPCs will have “!” symbols above their heads. Yes, it’s pretty much like an MMO. These NPCs will have quests to give you, and if you complete these quests, you’ll get some gold and usually a cosmetic knick-knack. Oh, don’t worry, I’ll be making heavy use of said cosmetic knick-knacks. The sad thing is, the MMO comparisons don’t end there. The quests are often just as boring and uninvolving as a standard MMO quest. As such, they hardly even feel like quests.
After all, when someone says they’re “questing” in World of Warcraft, what do you picture in your mind? A grand adventure, right? MMO questing, however, involves fulfilling repetitive, menial tasks for the various NPCs scattered across the world. “You, adventurer! Fetch me 20 boar asses!” Then you’ll go to this place with where nothing but boars spawn. You then proceed to slay these boars until you pick up 20 boar asses. Exciting, huh? And that’s what we have here. Someone will ask for an insect husk. I’ll go get them an insect husk. Someone else will want a napple (I don’t know why they didn’t just use the word ‘apple’), so I’ll go find them a napple. Yay, quest complete. I feel so fulfilled! To be fair, some of these quests — or as Tales of Xillia calls them, “sub-events” — do actually have some interesting cutscenes from time to time. Those are the ones I’ll highlight in my posts. For the most part, however, I won’t bother detailing the vast majority of these quests.
In any case, our group has to make some money in order to pay Alvin the money that he requires. Otherwise, he won’t train Milla in the art of swordplay. Conveniently enough, there’s an NPC in need of help as soon as we regain control of Jude:
Yes, she has a job for us. Sometimes, you don’t even have to fetch an item. Sometimes, you just have to go to X location and slay Y enemies. Sure enough, that’s what I’m going to do right now. According to the girl, monsters are lurking around a lake, and it’s up to us to take them out. We call them monsters, of course, but what makes them any different from just, y’know, a bunch of poor animals thirsting for water? But in JRPG land, it doesn’t matter! Anything that you can fight is automatically a monster. Time to smash some “monster” skulls in, then. Right before we leave, however, Alvin squeezes in a quick training lesson:
I’m not sure that’s a proper stance for a swordswoman, but hey, what do I know? Afterwards, Milla asks Jude if he’ll continue on this journey with her. He’s unsure as of now, so Milla will give him a day to think about it. Despite Alvin’s shady character, however, he seems to look out for Jude. Not in the way of combat, but rather, Alvin often offers Jude a lot of encouragement:
Maybe Alvin sees a bit of himself in Jude, a young kid who has had to venture out of his comfort zone for the first time in his life. Anyway, we regain control of Jude again, and hey, another skit:
“The Calamity Key”
Milla: “This was surging with mana when they activated their so-called Lance of Kresnik.”
I assume she’s referring to the thing she stole from the laboratory.
Milla: “So this must be the key they use to arm it.”
At this point, Alvin’s talking head slides into the picture.
Alvin: “Whoa, hold your fire! I come in peace! Can’t a mercenary have a friendly chat with his client?”
Milla: “That much is fine. But when you want to chat, you needn’t hold your breath and sneak up behind me.”
Put two and two together, girl.
Alvin: “Yeesh, you make me sound so unsavory. Do you berate poor Jude like this too?”
Milla: “I don’t intend to berate anyone. That was never my intention.”
Aaaand Alvin has already managed to distract the girl.
Alvin: “Do try to be gentle with him. Boys can be so vulnerable.”
Milla: “That’s a surprisingly tender sentiment.”
Alvin: “That’s what it says on my business card. “The mercenary with a heart of gold.”
Milla: “Those are good words to live by. Although with a motto like that, I can’t imagine you’d live very long.”
Alvin: “Heh. Not the type to sugarcoat things, are you?”
Okay, this is getting mundane. Still, I included this skit because it hints at Alvin’s true nature. For sure, however, most skits are just pure fluff, so I won’t transcribe them all.
At this point, I should explain how the shop expansion mechanic works. If you’ve never played a JRPG before, every location you journey to will usually have a shop where you can upgrade your weapon and armor. And the further into the game you are, the stronger those upgrades will be. While this is convenient for the player, it can be quite a bit silly from a lore standpoint. For instance, why would some bumfuck village in the middle of nowhere have weapons and armors superior to what you can buy in the capital city? Tales of Xillia avoids this problem, because shops don’t automatically sell better items just because you’re further along in the storyline. Rather, you have to upgrade the shop themselves in order to buy upgrades for yourself. As you’ll recall, I’ve picked up all sorts of junk so far. Spiderwebs, chunks of wood, feathers, insect husks… you name it! By themselves, these items aren’t very useful.
You can, however, give them to these shops, and this will level the shops up. When shops level up, they sell better items or give you a discount on older items. If you don’t have any items on you, however, you can still brute force the process by handing these shops your hard-earned cash. Yes, gald will do the trick as well. Hell, simply buying stuff will help level these shops up. There are actually five different shops to upgrade. I’m lazy, however, so I’ll just focus on upgrading my equipment.
For the time being, however, we have a quest to complete, so we may as well get that done. When we leave the Aladhi Seahaven, there is yet another tutorial. Now that we have more than two characters for battle, the game introduces Linked Combat mechanic.
In battle, you can partner up with one of your allies (this can be seen in the screenshot above by the blue line connecting Jude and Milla), and in doing so, you gain a variety of benefits. For example, when you team up with Milla, she’ll paralyze the enemy, which allows you to get your hits in freely. Also, if another enemy is about to hit you from behind, your partner will respond and try to intercept the attack. The most important feature of Linked Combat, however, is the ability to combo with your partner. When the combat meter to the left starts flashing, I can use, say, Demon Fist, and by pressing R3 shortly afterwards, Jude and Milla will perform the Linked Arts Final Gale:
In fact, it seems as though the entire combat system is balanced around these Linked Artes. They do a lot more damage than anything else at your disposal, so if you don’t take advantage of them, even random encounters will feel as though they take forever to get through. You’ll notice, too, that the combat meter can be filled up all the way to the brim. When this happens, you can pull multiple combos off in quick succession until the combat meter depletes to zero. This lets you put down a ton of hurt, especially on bosses. Still, that doesn’t mean the enemies will just stand there and let you combo them to death. Moves take some time to go off, and in that small time frame, the enemy can interrupt you in a variety of ways. Against most random encounters, you can just turn off your brain and still win. I imagine that against some of the harder enemies, however, timing will be a little more critical to my success. Unfortunately, I haven’t played a JRPG since Persona 4, which was strictly turn-based. Needless to say, I’m pretty damn terrible at Xillia‘s combat system. Oh, one more thing: I can also link up with Alvin, but I’m lazy, so until Milla leaves my party, I’m just going to keep her as a partner for the time being.
After the battle, we get to run around the Aladhi Trail, but there’s nothing interesting here to see. This entire location is just a generic series of corridors filled with trees, grass, rocks, some low-level treasures, and most importantly, a ton of boring enemies:
In the short time that I’ve played the game, I gotta say it lacks any compelling visuals to look at. I suppose this has never been a strength of the Tales of… series in general, but still, it’s somewhat disappointing how non-distinct these locales feel. On the bright side, however, some of the loot will respawn if you leave the area and come back. If you’re ever in need of gald, upgrade materials, etc., you can grind these “dungeons” over and over. For now, however, let’s just skip to where we’re supposed to go:
It’s not a difficult fight. It’s not even an interesting fight. As a result, I’m quickly back in town to turn in my quest:
Shortly after turning the quest in, however, Milla collapses to the ground:
Jude: “Hmm, no fever. How are you feeling?”
Milla: “I don’t seem to have any strength.”
At this point, we hear her stomach grumble. Yeah, when I said that Milla would have to learn what it takes to be human, I literally mean we’d start back at square one. As such, she needs to learn what it means to eat. That’s right, our heroine has never had to eat until now.
Jude: “Um, have you been eating properly?”
Milla: “I’ve never eaten.”
Milla: “Though Sylph, I drew life from the air. With Undine’s power, I received sustenance from the water.”
Alvin: “What’s she talking about?”
Jude: “I guess the spirits gave her all the energy she needed. Well, now you’re going to have to nourish yourself the old-fashioned way.”
Milla: “I see. So this is what you call hunger. Hehe, fascinating.”
Alvin: “So, should we rest at the inn? Now that you mention it, I could use some grub myself.”
So we make our way to the inn, but for some reason, the cook isn’t in. But it’s okay, because Jude is apparently a master chef as well:
Yeah, he whipped these dishes up all by himself. I’m still not clear on why the story wanted Jude to be the one to fix the food in this particular scene. Would it have mattered if some generic NPC had done the job instead?
Alvin: “Hey, not bad.”
Milla: “Not bad? It’s good! I quite enjoy ingesting calories with you. Human should learn to cherish these simple pleasures.”
And we don’t? After a quick time lapse, we come back to see that Milla has passed out at the dinner table:
Alvin thinks that perhaps this is the first time Milla has ever slept. If that’s true, that’s just ridiculous. It’s one thing to receive all the nutrients you would ever need from the Four, but she still has a human body. It doesn’t take a medical student to know that the human body needs sleep. I mean, what, are you going to tell me that she’s about to take her first shit too? But I digress. With the girl fast asleep, Jude and Alvin discuss whether or not she’s truly the Maxwell that she claims to be:
Alvin: “That Maxwell?”
Jude: “Yeah. She’s apparently a spirit in physical form.”
Alvin: “Not just any spirit. The Lord of Spirits, Wielder of the Four Elements, the Eldest Spirit… Maxwell has many names. And now we add Milla to that list? She’s supposed to be the Spirit Maxwell? You gotta be kidding me.”
Jude: “Is Maxwell really that mighty?”
Alvin: “Of course. That’s why this is so hard to swallow. I grew up hearing bedtime stories about Maxwell.”
Jude: “What in the world would a spirit like that be trying to destroy?”
Alvin: “Trying to destroy? What’re you referring to?”
Jude: “She called it a spyrix, I think. The device from the laboratory.”
Jude: “Maybe I should just ask Milla about it.”
Alvin: “I don’t know. You have a nasty habit of poking your nose where it doesn’t belong. Your accursed curiosity made me a wanted man, too, you know.”
I wouldn’t take that lying down if I were Jude. Alvin’s the one who dragged Alvin onto the boat, after all. Naturally, however, Jude isn’t really the sort to stand up for himself.
Alvin: “Well, think hard before asking, okay?”
Jude: “Yeah, you’re right.”
The following day, Milla announces her plans to return to Nia Khera. Basically, she thinks she can re-summon the Four if she returns to her shrine. In response to this, Alvin goes, “So, she really is Maxwell.” Um, I don’t think that’s sufficient proof, but whatever. What’s more important is that Jude has finally made his decision to accompany the hot anime babe on her magical journey:
In Milla’s mind, the people of Nia Khera will take care of Jude at her request, so this is a win-win for everybody. After all, she’s supposed to be the Eldest Spirit, so surely, the villagers worship the ground that she walks on. Still, there’s no way Jude will be content to sit idly by in some village as the hot anime babe endangers herself. Hell, he doesn’t know anybody there. She may not need much in terms of friendship, recreation, or emotional support, but it’s pretty silly to think Jude can just feel right at home in some backwater village after living in a capital city like Fennmont. Anyway, Alvin is coming as well, and for some reason, this is a surprise to Jude. I don’t see why, though. After all, Milla still needs to reimburse the guy for his troubles.
Still, the journey continues. This time, we’re going to head north until we magically stumble upon Nia Khera. In the past, Milla would just fly to her destinations with the help of Sylph. Since she’s going to have to hoof it on foot for the time being, however, she doesn’t exactly know how to reach Nia Khera. At this point, we regain control of our character. We can head north like the story wants us to, or we can take the time to complete a couple sidequests. For instance, remember the girl who had sent us to kill those monsters by a lake? Well, she has the same goddamn job for us again:
Completing the quest this time earns you a “Sheathed Dagger,” which isn’t actually a real weapon since no one uses a dagger in our party. Rather, it’s just a cosmetic knick-knack that will appear on a character model if you choose to equip it:
Pretty boring, but there are some fun items later. For instance, these “Bushy Eyebrows” I got from fetching this guy some “soda rice:”
As you might have expected, the “Bushy Eyebrows” will give your characters the appearance of, well, bushy eyebrows:
There’s one other quest in town, but I can’t complete it yet. As a result, we may as well now advance the story. If you leave the Aladhi Seahaven and just press north (you don’t really have any other places to go), you’ll eventually stumble upon Hamil, the “Orchard Frontier.” I have no clue what that even means. Are we going where no apple has gone before? In any case, it’s just a quaint little village that you’ll find at the start of practically every JRPG:
Jude: “Wow, that’s an impressive amount of fruit.”
Alvin: “I’m catching a whiff of cider. They must have orchards here.”
Old Lady: “Well, well, well! We don’t get many visitors here!
Old Lady: “I would hope so. I’m the mayor!”
Milla: “Is this the right road to Nia Khera?”
Mayor of Hamil: “Nia Khera? Now that’s a name I haven’t heard in ages.”
Alvin: “What do you mean?”
Mayor of Hamil: “It’s what people called a long-forgotten village. I don’t even know if it still exists. I heard tales of the village as a child. People claimed it lies beyond the Kijara Seafalls.”
Jude: “Where can we find it?”
Mayor of Hamil: “You’ll need to cross some seriously rugged terrain to get there. It won’t be an easy journey.”
Alvin: “In that case, we should probably rest here before heading on.”
The mayor thus offers up her house as a place for us to stay. You can now run around and explore Hamil, but there’s little to see. Talk to the townsfolk and they’ll make some mention of a mysterious shed that everyone’s supposed to avoid:
More on this later. You’ll also find some kid staring at this shiny thing in a tree:
It’s really just another treasure “box” in a game full of treasure dispersal methods (chests, bags, shimmering thing in a tree, etc.). Well, add purple tetrahedral thing to the list. We get some lore about how an adventurer from the past had hidden his treasures all across the land to encourage other people to find them. Ho-hum. For our purposes, I’ll collect what I can, but it’s not the end of the world if I don’t get them all. Like I’ve said, I want to complete this game eventually in time for Persona 5. Hell, I might even want to LP another JRPG if there’s time.
“The Perfect Catalyst”
Alvin: “So why bother taking human form at all?”
Milla: “Spirits are really just masses of mana. They can’t interact with the temporal world in that state. For a spirit to take physical form, it needs a catalyst of a corresponding element. As an example, the fire-spirit Efreet can take form as a blazing inferno.”
Jude: “And as Maxwell, you can be any element, right?”
Milla: “The human body contains all four elements, so it’s the perfect catalyst for me to take a physical form.”
Alvin: “What would happen if you lost your catalyst?”
Milla: “I would gather elements to make a new one. But I’d have to wait for it to grow up.”
Jude: “Grow up? You mean, you start as a baby?”
Milla: “It’s time-consuming, but if you want to use a human form as a catalyst, you have to wait for the body to develop.”
Jude: “So even the Lord of Spirits isn’t omnipotent.”
Milla: “Not in this human realm, anyway.”
Alvin: “Let’s just be grateful she didn’t go with the male model, eh?”
Jude: “Wouldn’t bother me.”
Alvin: “Oh? You swing both ways?”
Jude: “That’s not what I meant.”
Yeah, dude, I’m not gay. Anything but gay! After this skit, I run around the village some more, but eventually, you just have to turn it in and take a nap at the mayor’s house. Doing so will yield another cutscene. Granted, I haven’t been playing this game very long, but it sure feels as though I’m constantly losing control of my character. Cutscenes after cutscenes after cutscenes, man. Of course, if you think this is bad, I could always LP a modern Final Fantasy game… But yeah, let’s take a look at what this cutscene is all about…
Jude: “Why were you trying to destroy that device in Fennmont?”
Milla: “Spyrix technology is something humans were never meant to have. So, I must take it away from them.”
Who are you to decide who gets to have what, though? Yes, she’s the Eldest Spirit, but what does that mean? Does it mean she’s a god that we have to obey? Yes, plenty of people will worship her, but at the same, she’s not exactly the Almighty. She’s not exactly infallible. So why does she get to decide what humans can or cannot use?
Milla: “That is none of your concern.”
Jude: “So you don’t trust me.”
Milla: “That’s not it.”
Jude: “I’d probably snatch it away.”
Milla: “And what would be your reason?”
Jude: “Because it’s dangerous. The baby doesn’t know how to use a knife. He could cut himself, or worse.”
Who said the baby was male? Aha! Shitlord!
Milla: “There’s your answer.”
Jude: “What? But we’re not babies!”
That may be true, but the argument loses a bit of its impact since it’s coming from Jude.
Jude: “If we understand what we’re dealing with, and if we see the dangers, we can learn how to use it safely.”
Milla: “So you say. But to me, you’re no different than infants.”
In the background, we see Rashugal soldiers arriving at the village.
Milla: “I will do what I must to protect this world. If that means destroying the Lance of Kresnik, so be it. It’s my mission.”
Jude: “I see.”
Milla: “Don’t worry, Jude. None of this will concern you once we reach Nia Khera.”
At this point, however, the Rashugal soldiers are starting to draw a crowd.
Alvin: “It would seem we can’t linger around here anymore.”
Jude: “So they did follow us.”
Alvin: “I dunno, kid. They found us awfully fast considering this isn’t their home turf.”
Milla: “Well, it’s not like we can ask them about it. Let’s go before they find us.”
Alvin: “There’s an exit in the western part of town. That must be the way to the Kijara Seafalls.”
We can now head towards the western exit of the town, but you’ll find soldiers there too.
Milla: “We force our way through.”
Jude: “Right, and fast, before any more arrive!”
Alvin: “So that’s your plan? Just charge through? I thought I was hot-headed.”
This is when we suddenly run into this… loli and her stuffed animal:
What would a JRPG be without a loli?
Jude: “What is it?”
Loli: “Um… What are you doing?”
Milla: “We’re trying to figure out how to get past those soldiers.”
Jude: “Way to cut to the chase.”
Loli: “So those people… They’re in your way?”
What? Are you going to tell me this loli will somehow distract the soldiers enough to let us through? Yes, yes she will:
Alvin: “What in the world?”
Jude: “How did you do that?”
Eventually, however, this giant oaf shows up:
Oaf: “What’s going on here? Child! You know you’re never to leave the shed!”
Hm, a giant oaf keeps a little girl locked up in his shed, and no one in the village is allowed to go near the shed. Yeah… I think it’s time to call Child Protective Services.
Oaf: “Rashugal troops? Curse you! How dare you come here!”
The oaf goes running after the troops. At the same time, the loli runs in the other direction. After the oaf knocks the soldiers out, he goes chasing after the girl, but not before telling us that we must leave the village. Sure, you could try checking up on the girl, but the game won’t even let you:
Don’t expect to have much freedom of choice in a JRPG even if it seems like that choice is a sensible thing to do. And yeah, we just basically overheard that the oaf keeps a little girl locked away in a shed all by her lonesome, but hey, these adventurers have important things to get to! Like meaningless fetch quests! As such, we don’t have time to help a little girl out.
“A Strange Girl”
Jude: “You know that girl we saw in Hamil?”
Alvin: “The one with the weird doll thing? What about her?”
Jude: “You didn’t think that was odd?”
Alvin: “You can’t waste your energy on other peoples’ business. All part of growing up, kid.”
Yeah, part of growing up is to ignore a child in need. I’ll keep that in mind.
Jude: “But she was controlling that doll, and shady people were chasing her. That doesn’t bother you?”
Alvin: “Eh, plenty of that going around. Just look at ourselves.”
But we’re adults. Well, not Jude, but he’s still older than the girl. It’s just not a good comparison.
Alvin: “I think we have enough on our own plates. You really want more irregularities in life?”
Alvin: “Not that it’s necessarily a bad thing, mind you. No one’s got a bigger helping of weird than Milla, and she doesn’t seem to mind.”
Jude: “Well, that’s certainly true.”
You can enter the shed that everyone keeps alluding to, but the basement is locked so there’s nothing to really see here:
With nothing else in the village to concern ourselves with, the only thing left to do is to leave through the western exit, and make our slow trek to Nia Khera. By the way, I should mention that my Lilium Orbs are slowly filling out, but I have no idea what I’m really doing, so I’m just unlocking stuff willy-nilly:
After running through some more pastoral landscapes, we finally hit the Kijara Seafalls:
Jude: “I hope we didn’t make trouble for those villagers. They were so kind to us, too.”
Alvin: “What else could we do but run? Rashugal’s troops showed up.”
Milla: “The villagers picked the fight, not us.”
Geez, have some compassion, Eldest Spirit.
Jude: “How can you talk like that? Maybe they were trying to protect us?
Milla: “If you’re worried about them, then maybe you should go back. It was a pleasure knowing you, Jude. Thank you for all your help.”
Jude: “How can you be so cold?”
Milla: “You rather I get emotional? I’m afraid I don’t have that luxury. What is it you humans say… ‘I’ve no time for waxing sentimental.'”
Jude: “Because of your mission?”
Milla: “Can a person still fulfill their duty if they become emotional?”
Jude: “Only one way to find out. You’d have to try and see.”
Milla: “Well then, you should take your own advice.”
Milla: “Just be yourself, and do what you have to do. Maybe then you’ll have your answer.”
Jude: “I suppose.”
Alvin: “Don’t go thinking you have to act like the great Lord Maxwell here. You’re only human.”
Jude: “Hey, are you on a mission, too?”
He is. There’s no doubt about it.
Can you stop saying ‘Huh?’ every other sentence?
Alvin: “I don’t wanna make you feel like the odd one out now.”
Alvin: “So, what’re you gonna do, kid? Go back to the village?”
After a long pause…
Alvin: “Alright, then let’s go.”
To its credit, at least the Kijara Seafalls looks different from the past two open areas we’ve run through. Still, if you’re expecting a fascinating set piece to gawk at, this is not the place. It’s just another water area in a JRPG. There are water-themed enemies to fight, but other than making some annoying noises every time you hit them, they’re just as bland as everything else I’ve fought up until now.
Oh yeah, I should mention that the more I use a TP move, the stronger it’ll become. It might do more damage. It might even gain an additional effect. For instance, Demon Fist will eventually penetrate… uh, its enemies, and thus hit everything behind its initial target. Needless to say, I have a feeling I’ll be the greatest Demon Fister in the land.
Starting from here, the game world will now take advantage of its Z-axis:
Yes, Jude, yes you can. When you near a ledge, pressing ‘X’ will make your character hoist himself up. Sadly, however, you can’t just automatically jump down a ledge. You also have to press ‘X’ if you want to get down to a lower level.
As I make my way through the place, there are numerous treasures to pick up, but only one of them is really notable:
Yeah, it’s a cosmetic item that I can attach to one of my characters’ arms like so:
There’s a skit midway through the area, and if you watch it, you learn that Auj Oule is more meritocratic. That’s nice, I suppose. On the other hand, Rashugal is a lot more hierarchical in nature. Nothing too important here, but it adds a bit of flavor to the universe, I guess.
As I zone into another section of the Kijara Seafalls…
Jude: “Now that we’re almost to Nia Khera, I’m getting curious… Is it a nice place?”
Milla: “Hmm, yes, I’m very fond of it. It has a certain kind of serenity. When I meditate there, it feels like my power is concentrated.”
Jude is very impressionable.
Alvin: “Let’s take five. All those rocks were murder on my feet.”
Milla: “We can rest once we reach the village.”
Alvin: “Oh, come on, relax. Nia Khera isn’t going anywhere. Right? Rest a while.”
Jude: “Oh, sure. Hey, I won’t argue with that.”
And so we rest…
Alvin: “Well, I do have to admit you had me worried, kid, trying to act all tough like that.”
Jude: “Oh yeah, is it really that obvious? Anyway, I really am fine. And I’ve found that I’m pretty good at pushing all the complicated stuff out of my brain.”
Alvin: “Is that right?”
That’s when the two guys hear something strange in the distance. We suddenly see Milla under attack:
Oh fucking great, it’s a catgirl.
Jude: “Who are you?”
Alvin seems to recognize her, though:
Our suspicions are pretty much confirmed when the woman starts talking:
Catgirl: “You like her? Is she the one who caught your eye?”
Alvin: “All right, let her go. I could care less what you’re here for, but she’s my employer right now.”
Catgirl: “Then stay back. Unless you want me to kill your golden goose.”
Our medical student has already begun to cook up a battle plan, though. What do you see, boy?
What do you and your bushy eyebrows see?!
Naturally, our shounen hero can spot a loose rock when he sees one.
Jude: “That rock to the right. Can you hit it? Take a look. It could be the key to saving Milla.”
Alvin: “All right. You ready?”
Jude: “Hmm? Yeah.”
Catgirl: “Oh, you’re just going to watch her die then? With friends like that…”
But Alvin takes a shot and…
That’s no rock!
When the giant monster hits the ground, the catgirl loses her grip on Milla as well. The monster then leaps at the catgirl ’cause, well, since when do tentacled monsters not leap at catgirls?
We finally get a closer look at the catgirl’s outfit and… well, it’s quite trashy:
Hell, just look at her official artwork:
Still, we have bigger things to worry about at the moment.
I’d consider this the game’s first real boss fight, but it still isn’t very difficult. After all, the game starts you off with a tutorial on how to link combos together, so you get to open the fight with a barrage of Final Gale and Aerial Fire Linked Artes:
Since the boss has tentacles, it also has standard tentacle attacks. I mean, if you’ve ever fought a JRPG boss with tentacles, they all seem to do the same thing. For instance, the boss will plunge its tentacles into the ground, then attack you repeatedly as the tentacles pop up from beneath you. It also shoots an “Aqua Laser,” which just looks like a jet of water:
In the end, however, the boss is a chump, so we win easily. Instead of concerning themselves about the whereabouts of the catgirl, however, the characters proceed to talk about Jude’s ingenuity:
Alvin: “So you spotted that monster camouflaged as a boulder? Good eyes, kid.”
Milla: “Did you ever consider what would’ve happened if the creature charged at you instead of that woman?”
Jude: “It wouldn’t have mattered. Alvin still would’ve gotten into that woman’s blind spot.”
Alvin: “You thought of all the angles that quickly? What are you, a tactical genius?”
Milla: “Genius is a good word. Not many people can think that fast.”
Jude: “Hey, it was nothing.”
Milla: “Thank you, Jude. You too, Alvin.”
Jude: “Hey, where’d that woman go?”
Oh, now you worry about the catgirl.
Alvin: “Hold your horses, Mr. Honors Student. We’re not gonna get anywhere if we spend all day worrying about the bad guys. Come on, let’s get moving.”
What the hell does that even mean? Why wouldn’t you worry about the bad guys, especially when they want to kill you? Plus, she obviously recognized Alvin. Pretty convenient, then, for him to tell his friends not to worry about her whereabouts.
You eventually regain control of Jude after that last bit of dialogue. You can see a short skit where Jude explains how mutations in the mana lobes can cause creatures to become giant monsters. That’s about the gist of it, however, so I didn’t bother to transcribe it. After a bit more running around, we finally near our destination. And obviously, that calls for yet another cutscene:
Jude: “So any idea who that woman was?”
Alvin: “No clue, although she did seem to know me.”
Come on, you don’t expect anyone to buy that, do you?
Milla: “I imagine you mercenaries make a lot of enemies in your line of work.”
Ooops, I forgot our JRPG heroes are dense as fuck.
Jude: “Although, I have to admit, she was really pretty.”
Alvin: “I never pegged you for the bad girl type, kid. Or maybe you just like older woman.”
Jude: “I don’t know. Maybe?”
Lord Maxwell, please notice me! And with that, we finally reach Nia Khera…
Jude: “So this is Nia Khera…”
Alvin: “Huh, I thought it would be fancier.”
Uh, why…? There’s a reason why it’s considered a forgotten village. Fancy places don’t just go missing.
Milla: “Excuse me. Where’s Ivar?”
Oh boy, I’ve already heard a lot about this Ivar.
Old Man: “Hmm? He went off to find Lord Maxwell and…”
Milla: “Yes, I have returned.”
By now, the rest of the village has notice Milla’s return, so they start to flock around the girl.
Old Man: “I can’t believe you deign to speak to me? I am unworthy!”
Alvin: “I guess she’s the real deal.”
Haven’t you said this before? You’ll learn, however, that Milla isn’t too fond of the adoration she gets from the villagers. Plus, Ivar is still missing. In the meantime, Milla hopes to resummon the Four, and in order to do that, she has a… fetch quest for us. Lovely. It involves running around the village, collecting the four elemental stones from their altars. As you can see, there’s the fire one right in front of the characters:
While you’re fetching the elemental stones, you can see the rest of the village for yourself. There are some quests to pick up, some NPCs to talk to — y’know, standard JRPG village stuff. For the most part, however, Nia Khera’s about as unremarkable as Hamil itself. Alvin even refers to it as the sticks. Here, have a few skits and cutscenes to make this place seem a little more interesting:
Jude: “This is your hometown, Milla? It’s so normal.”
Jude: “Yeah. It sure is.”
Alvin: “Pretty weak, huh? I was expecting something freaky.”
Jude: “Hey, come on.”
Milla: “Did you say something?”
Alvin: “Oh, I was just wondering if your parents were around.”
Milla: “Spirits don’t have parents.”
Alvin: “Then how were you born?”
Milla: “I took this form twenty years ago. I appeared, along with the Four, in the village shrine.”
Milla: “You seem to have a lot of questions about me.”
Alvin: “Just trying to keep Jude entertained! He was complaining about how boring the village was.”
Milla: “Jude, do you crave chaos that much?”
Jude: “What?! I… I didn’t say anything like that!”
The next set of dialogue comes from a cutscene:
Milla: “I’m glad to see you’re all well.”
Old Man: “All thanks to you, Lord Maxwell.”
Jude: “Wow, so people really do worship Milla! It’s pretty rare to find Maxwell worshipers these days. But apparently they used to be quite common.”
Milla: “Faith in the spirits seems to have fallen dramatically all over the world, although I couldn’t tell that from here.”
Jude: “The more spirit artes progress, the more spirits are seen as simply another facet of nature.”
Alvin: “So they used to be a bigger deal back then?”
Jude: “Yeah. Legends say that it was the Spirit Maxwell who created Rieze Maxia to begin with. And the first human to follow him, Kresnik, came to be known as the Genesis Sage.”
Milla: “Correct. And the people of this village are Kresnik’s descendents.”
Alvin: “Heh heh. Yeah, you get crazy origin stories like that in all these rustic towns.”
Old Man: “How dare you! Twenty years ago I personally witness the advent of Lord Maxwell and the Four Great Spirits! I saw her grow into the woman you see before you without ever taking a bite of food or a wink of sleep. This miracle is proof that our legends were true!”
Alvin: “Wanna tell this geezer about the time Milla collapse from hunger?”
Jude: “Come to think of it, the Six Ruling Houses of Rashugal are all a part of that legend too. Their founders were supposed to be the six disciples of Maxwell and Kresnik, right?”
Old Man: “Now that is the truly absurd origin story. Those fools have no clue about the true secrets of this world.”
Okay, but why is it a secret? Nevertheless, Milla motions for the old man to be quiet.
Old Man: “I should never have said that. Please, forgive me.”
Jude: “What just happened?”
Milla: “Nothing. Don’t worry about it.”
And with that, the cutscene is over. If Maxwell is just in his actions, then I’m not sure why they’re being so secretive, but I guess we’ll find out eventually.
Alvin: “So all the artes that channel the Four Great Spirits don’t work anymore?”
Jude: “Yeah, not since the Silencing twenty years ago. The power of the Four disappeared overnight, causing worldwide panic.”
Alvin: “And when did Milla take human form again?”
Milla: “Twenty years ago.”
Jude: “Wait, are the two related?”
Milla: “Yes. That was me. I reserved the Four for my personal use.”
Milla: “I have no reason to deceive you. Of course, even I can’t summon them now, so you’ll have to take my word for it.”
Well, that’s enough skits for now. With the four elemental stones in my possession, it’s time to make our trek up to Milla’s home. She actually lives a couple zones away from the actual town of Nia Khera itself. As such, it’s just more grinding for us. Since I’m here anyway, I may as well get one of the quests out of the way…
…and yes, I basically just have to kill X monsters in Y location again. We may as well view another skit just to break up the monotony:
“Of Monster Bondage”
Alvin: “You see the way Milla freezes those enemies in their tracks? I guess she really is into bondage.”
Jude: “Oh, is that what the technique is called?”
Alvin: “Aww, I thought I’d get more of a rise out of you than that.”
Jude: “I’m just tired of your lies and innuendos. Just give it up already.”
Alvin: “Oh-ho! And now I’m the one being tied down by your sadistic decrees. Sorry, Jude. I’m not that into bondage play.”
Milla: “But it is true that some people can only experience true intimacy when they’re tied and bound.”
Alvin: “The conversation takes a surprising turn! Are you speaking from personal experience?”
Milla: “No, I read it in a book. It was called ‘Men and Women Beneath the Sheets.'”
Jude: “What sort of books are you reading?!”
Milla: “There was a similar comment in ‘The Aesthetics of Being the Catcher’ as well.”
Jude: “That one’s probably about something different.”
Jude: “W-Well, I wouldn’t really know.”
He says that, but he’s blushing.
Alvin: “Sounds like Milla’s more into total freedom than tying anyone down.”
Well, that was enlightening. Let’s hurry to Milla’s shrine.
Jude: “Is this your house?”
Milla: “My house? I’ve never really thought about it like that, but I suppose so.”
She’s lived there for 20 years, and yet she doesn’t think of the place as her house. Okay then. So much for all that book-learnin’.
Alvin: “Boy, you’re really in the sticks. What do you do for fun out here?”
Milla: “My mission is not to entertain myself.”
Even if you’re the Lord of Spirits, I find it hard to believe that any sentient being would not require any sort of recreation.
Milla: “I do spend time reading books written by humans, if you must know.”
Alvin: “Sounds fun.”
Milla: “Let’s perform the ceremony.”
With the stones in place, Milla goes to work…
Unfortunately, the stones all shatter, and the ritual is a failure.
That’s when a new character enters the picture:
Ivar: “Lady Milla! I was worried sick!”
Ivar: “This looks like the rite of the Four’s Advent… Why would you perform such a ritual? Wait, what’s going on here? Efreet, where are you?! Undine, come out! Lady Milla, what has happened?”
Milla eventually tells Ivar the whole story… though to be honest, he just hears what he wants to hear.
Ivar: “I cannot believe it.”
Alvin: “So, why do you think you can’t summon the spirits? Are they dead or something?”
Ivar: “Idiot! A Great Spirit cannot die!”
Christ, calm down. It was an innocent enough question.
Alvin: “Was I supposed to know that?”
Ivar: “Just like a lesser spirit, a great Spirit becomes a fossil when it passes away. Yet its power transfers into the next Great Spirit!”
Jude: “At least, that’s what they say. Nobody’s ever seen it happen.”
Alvin: “Ah, so I’ve heard.”
Ivar: “That’s blasphemy! Spirits are undying beings that dwell in the spirit world! It’s beyond your understanding!”
Jude: “Well, maybe that device captured the Four Great Spirits instead of killing them.”
Ivar: “Impossible! Mere humans could never capture the Great Four!”
And yet we’re here…
Jude: “But the Four Great Spirits aren’t answering their lord’s summons. If you elmininate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”
Alvin: “If you leave an egg in a box, and somehow that egg should get crushed, the cause must lie within the egg itself. Good ol’ Howe’s Egg Principle. You really are an honors student.”
Ivar, however, doesn’t take kindly to that. No, he really doesn’t take kindly to that:
Milla: “A spyrix advanced enough to capture even the Four. When that happened… I then lost my power as Maxwell.”
This guy is so possessive.
Ivar: “I’m the only one ordained to serve Lady Milla.”
What? Do you dress and bathe her too? Wait, don’t answer that…
Milla: “Ivar, please leave, as well. You can go home.”
Milla: “Let me see. How should I put this?”
With that, everyone gives Milla some space. That doesn’t stop Ivar from ranting and raving once the guys are outside, though:
Ivar: “Lady Milla wouldn’t be in this predicament if it wasn’t for you blasphemous fools! For the love of Maxwell, I knew I should never have left her side!”
Alvin: “Milla wasn’t kidding about his short fuse.”
Jude, however, just walks away from Ivar.
Jude: “Uh, yeah, I mean… Huh?”
Ivar: “Heed my words! Henceforth, only I shall serve the Lady Milla! Interfere at your peril!”
Something, however, catches Alvin’s attention.
Ivar and Alvin both take their leave, but it’s doubtful Alvin is merely heading back to the village as he so claims. Nevertheless, our hero’s clueless. Let’s just say he’s a little too hung up on Milla…
…and his hand. Eventually, Milla leaves her shrine, but she’s surprised that Jude is still here.
Jude: “Oh, what’s wrong? I thought you were going to rest.”
Milla: “I would say the same to you. You didn’t go back to the village?”
Milla: “Well then, let’s go set you up with the villagers.”
Milla: “What’s wrong? Worried you won’t fit in?”
Jude: “No, that’s not it. So, what are you going to do now? Will you return to Fennmont to destroy the Lance of Kresnik?”
Milla: “Yes. When you consider that the Lance drained mana from the Four, along with the other people there… We can assume the mana serves as some kind of fuel. The Lance must gather mana before it can be used as a weapon. I doubt it will be ready immediately. I suspect their mana-gathering activities will continue.”
Jude: “Are you planning to go alone?”
Milla: “Stop beating around the bush. If you want to tell me something, just say it.”
Jude: “I want to know how come you’re so brave?”
Well, if she’s truly Maxwell, then… isn’t this kind of a dumb question? It’s like asking God if he’s afraid of anything.
Milla: “You’ve taken an interest in me, haven’t you?”
Milla: “Bravery. That’s not really it. I have a task to perform. And I do whatever it takes to complete the task. It’s that simple.”
Yes and no. This happens almost all the time. Yuna in FFX. Colette in Tales of Symphonia. Milla in Tales of Xillia. They’re all girls, they’re all religious figures in some way, form, or fashion, and they’re all supposed to sacrifice everything for the sake of some all-important, you-cannot-shirk-this-shit duty. Yuna has to give her life up to keep Sin at bay. Colette is supposed to save her world by becoming an angel, but c’mon, that’s the same as death anyway. Hell, take even Claire Cruz from The Pilot’s Love Song. Religious figure. Great power. Gives herself up to protect her country. For some reason, Japanese stories have this obsession with portraying the same pious, dutiful heroines over and over. It’s like these girls are supposed to represent the ideal Japanese woman. Or, at the very least, this is what JRPG fans would consider to be the ideal Japanese woman. Either way…
Some, like Yuna, will eventually make the decision not to throw their lives away, but others, like Claire, will just do whatever she is asked to do. The only difference with Milla is that she isn’t scared. The other girls I’ve mentioned are still human. As such, they have human fears and human concerns. Is Milla human or is she truly Maxwell? On the other hand, does the answer really matter if she truly believes she’s Maxwell? Either way, it’s kind of messed up if you think about the implications inherent in these stories. There seems to be this martyr-like expectations built into these heroine’s characters. Even though Yuna didn’t end up dying at the end of FFX, she is still considered ideal because she was willing to give her life up at one point. Yuna only changed her mind when it became obvious that… well, for those who haven’t played FFX, we’ll save that for another time.
Jude: “But you’re only human now. Isn’t the mission too big for just one person? I mean, you could die!”
Milla: “That changes nothing. The task must be completed.”
Jude: “You really are brave.”
Milla: “Any other questions? Then let’s go back.”
Jude: “Can I come, too? With you?”
Milla: “Your whole life was turned upside down because you got involved with me. You don’t regret it?”
Jude: “Well, sure… A little bit. But it’s too late to cry about it now. It’s not like I can turn back time. Now that I’m neck-deep in this, I want to help you, if I can.”
Milla: “You really are a do-gooder, aren’t you?”
Well, he is a JRPG hero. Still, my biggest problem with this game so far is that, well, the story’s primary conflict doesn’t feel compelling whatoever. Usually, you know right off the bat that shit is going down. Shinra is killing the planet. Lavos, a slumbering entity from outer space, will awaken and destroy the world hundreds of years from now. There’s a mysterious Dark Hour to investigate, and shadows are attacking people. These are compelling stories that make me want to keep playing and push on through all the tired introductions, monologues, and expositions that one comes to expect from a JRPG. With Tales of Xillia, however, it’s not quite clear what it is that I’m supposed to be fighting for. Yeah, Rashugal is up to something shady, but I don’t really know what they’re doing. Is the world going to end? Is someone going to revive an ancient alien entity who will try to enslave mankind? I mean, c’mon, what’s going on here? Give me a reason–… no, wait, give Jude a reason to throw away not only his youth but his promising medical career as well to go on some damned crusade just because some pretty girl says that the spyrix — whatever it is — is bad news. I don’t even know what a spyrix is or what it does other than that it drains mana. How do I know for sure that the spyrix is a bad thing? Because Milla says so? Why should I take her word at face value? I’m not even convinced she’s the Maxwell, and even if she is the Maxwell, I’m not even convinced I should give a fuck! Are we just supposed to assume that Maxwell is just and holy?
Jude: “Y-You think so?”
Milla: “I didn’t stay behind in the shrine to rest; I was hoping to sneak off without dragging you into things again.”
Milla: “Yes. Consideration for others was something that I learned on our little journey together. It’s not as easy as I thought. Anyway, let’s head to the village. Now that you’ve found me, I suppose I’m in no rush to leave anymore.”
With that, we have to trek all the way back to Nia Khera. But don’t worry, because we’ll get the ability to fast travel soon enough. When we return to the village, we immediately run into Alvin.
Alvin: “Took you long enough. I didn’t expect to see MIlla with you.”
Jude: “Yeah, I’m going with Milla.”
Alvin: “Whoa. You’re quite the flip-flopper. I thought you regretted getting involved.”
Jude: “True, but, I’ve made my decision to help her, and I’m sticking to it.”
Alvin: “Is that right?”
Milla: “Alvin, thanks for all your help. Oh, I almost forgot. We still need to pay you.”
Alvin: “Ah yes. My fee. I ran into some hayseed. He said he’d pay it.”
Jude: “One of the villagers?”
Alvin: “Yep. He was all, ‘Thank you for looking after Lord Maxwell!’ And, ‘You saved our Spirit!'”
Milla: “Alvin, I’ll pay you myself.”
Alvin: “You need to learn how to read your people, Milla. That old man was tickled pink to pay your debt. You’d crush him if you refused.”
Milla: “You think so?”
The rest of the conversation is boring, so I’m going to skip it. Alvin claims he’s done with the group once he gets paid. Uh-huh. In the meantime, I take the time to complete two of the quests. For my efforts, I get “Elf Ears” and “Bed Head,” a pair of cosmetic items. I think their names are self-explanatory enough, so I don’t think I need to show you guys what they look like.
Eventually, I go to see the village elder. After all, he has money for Alvin.
Village Elder: “It’s the least we can do to help you, Lord Maxwell. We’re farmers, not fighters, after all.”
See, that’s what I don’t get. Where on earth do they get money if Nia Khera is supposed to be a forgotten village? Oh well… After Alvin gets paid, he takes his leave… only for Ivar to show up and be all annoying.
Ivar: “Will you be departing again?”
Milla: “Yes. Look after the village.”
Ivar: “But I would rather accompany you!”
Yeah, dude, you’re really endearing yourself to Milla by insulting someone she’s chosen to work with.
Milla: “Ivar! Tell me again of your duty.”
Ivar: “My duty? Why, it is to serve you, Lady Milla.”
Milla: “And what of your other duty?”
Ivar: “Uhh, to protect the people of Nia Khera. Those who can’t protect themselves.”
I’ve no idea why Jude went all slack-jawed on us because of that.
Milla: “While you fulfill your second duty.”
Now, see, that doesn’t even make sense.
Milla: “No, the fault was mine and mine alone. Indeed, if Jude hadn’t been there… I might never have returned safely to Nia Khera.”
Jude: “Thanks, I’m only trying to help.”
Ivar: “But Lady Milla!”
And that settles that. Except, of course, I’m sure we’ll be seeing Ivar again. Many times, too, I imagine.
It seems as though we’ll be passing through Hamil again on our way back to the seahaven. I have a feeling a certain loli will join the party… As I leave Nia Khera, however, it appears a few individuals have been watching us the entire time:
Unknown Character #1: “And you claim she has lost her powers, Presa?”
Unknown Character #2: “If she’s already hidden the key somewhere, we could have a problem.”
Oh hey, the oaf is here too.
I also like how two of the bad guys are wearing these all-black outfits, but even though they’re surrounded by bright, blue skies and rolling fields of bright, green grass, not a single soul in our immediate vicinity will notice these freaks.
Presa: “The fault is mine. I underestimated them. I apologize.”
Oaf: “If I’d only known that woman was Maxwell, I would have forced her to reveal the key’s whereabouts.”
Unknown Character #1: “No matter. It’s in our best interest to let her wander freely for now.”
Is it really?
Unknown Character #2: “Yes. Let her attract the attention of Rashugal while we quietly put all the pieces in place.”
Unknown Character #1: “Any word from Agria?”
Unknown Character #2: “She says they appear to have decided to construct a new key to replace the one they lost.”
Unknown Character #2: “Jiao, you no longer need to watch over the girl. Join the search for the key.”
Jiao (formerly known as the Oaf): “But, sir…”
You expect him to give up his loli freely?
Unknown Character #2: “If the Rashugal soldiers have withdrawn, you need not monitor her personally.”
Presa: “It only makes sense for priorities to change. The data is safe, after all.”
Oh my god, even though we’re meeting some of the bad guys for the first time, this is just so boring. I know they’re deliberately being vague, but nothing in this conversation grabs my attention. Tales of Xillia does not have a strong early hook whatsoever. It kicks off like a bad anime series, i.e. a whole lot of mundane conversations and exposition.
Jiao: “As you say…”
Unknown Character #2: “Presa, rendezvous with Agria and infiltrate Fennmont.”
Presa: Oh, so it’s truly safe to leave Maxwell alone?”
Unknown Character #2: “Yes. We still have another pawn on the board. I’ll have him search for the key, as well.”
Gee, I wonder who that could be. With that, the bad guys make their leave. I guess… I guess I’m just sort of disappointed with the game, really. As generic as the evil, secret laboratory was, at least it was an evil, secret laboratory. Since then, I’ve run through a grassy trail, I’ve visited a rustic village, I’ve run through another grassy trail, a beach, fought a giant crab-like thing, then finally, I’ve visited yet another rustic village. All for what? Am I saving the world? I don’t know yet. Am I looking to overthrow a dictator? It doesn’t appear that way. What am I even doing? I’m just tagging along with Milla because… because what? I think Jude just has a crush on her, and that’s it. Considering the age difference and her personality, however, I don’t think their relationship will ever amount to anything more than a friendship. As a result, we don’t even have a strong romance to follow. Blah.
I’ll keep pushing on with Tales of Xillia, of course — in fact, I intend to see it all the way to the end — but this has not been a very good start to the story. The pacing has been too bogged down by inane anime bullshit like eating dinner. The characters themselves are flat and uninteresting. Tales of Xillia just feels unremarkable in every single facet. Anyway, tune in next time to see what the return to the Orchard Frontier will be like.