Buckle up, kids. This game is incredibly special to me, so I’m giving it the treatment it deserves. Get ready for the first long, multi-part review on this blog.
A few days ago, Nintendo rocked all our socks off with one of their best Directs yet. We got some incredibly shocking and exciting announcements (including but not limited to Sans getting a Mii costume in Smash Bros) and a whole bunch of details on upcoming games. But of all of them, only one reveal made me cry.
I am, of course, talking about this one.
When the teaser first started playing, I thought it was going to be something for Breath of the Wild 2. But then I recognized the scenery. The music resurrected memories from deep within me. Then, like a bright light after a long night, we saw this!
I made a noise that can only be described as a squirrel on helium being strangled to death. Then, when the logo appeared and proudly announced ‘DEFINITIVE EDITION’ and 2020, I lost it. I started to cry.
Xenoblade Chronicles is one of my favorite games of all time! Of all the games on the Wii’s vast catalog, none come even close to Xenoblade! It was the only game to ever compete with Psychonauts for the #1 spot in my heart, and it only lost due to Psychonauts having the nostalgia factor behind it! Hell, now that it has a similar nostalgia factor, it may shoot straight up to numero uno when the Switch version releases!
This is one of the most beautiful games I have ever played. I’m not just talking about the visuals or the music. Everything, from the story to the gameplay itself, is absolutely stunning! It is a breathtaking experience that, sadly, very few people ever played! It wasn’t until Shulk was put into Smash Bros. that people started to take notice!
Even then, few people went back to play it. I can hardly blame them. Physical copies suddenly became very expensive and the only alternative was via the Wii U e-shop or the 3DS port (which was really not all that great)! It was hardly an easily accessed game!
But next year, that will change! The game will be easily accessible to any and all who are interested in playing it! And today, I’m going to break down exactly why you need to give this game a shot! If you are a fan of RPGs, then you are doing yourself an incredible disservice by avoiding this game! This is, without a doubt, one of the best RPGs ever made!
Plot: A War of Two Titans
Buckle up, buckaroos! This is going to be a long one! And note, I’m only talking about the beginning of the game! AND I’M STILL GOING TO BE SPOILING SOME MAJOR PLOT EVENTS!!
Once, the world was nothing but a vast ocean. Then two titans came to be: the Bionis and the Mechonis. These two callosal beings came into battle with one another, waging a harsh and brutal war until they struck each other down, leaving only their frozen corpses.
Now, various forms of life have come to be on both titan’s corpses. On the Bionis, the organic lifeforms begin their existence. Among these are the Homs (humans), the adorable and furry Nopon, and the winged and long-living High Entia. Meanwhile, mechanical life came to be on the Mechonis, and the Mechon were born. Soon, the mechanical race would continue the war started by the two titans and wage war against all life on the Bionis.
Fighting in this war is Dunban, a Homs hero who wields the mysterious and powerful Monado. Using its insane strength, he fights off the Mechon and seemingly ends the war. Unfortunately, it cost him his arm, as well as the life of his friend and totally-not-a-bad-guy: Mumkhar.
One year later, we join our main protagonist: Shulk, a researcher studying the Monado. He lives a peaceful life with his best friend, the headstrong Reyn, and his totally-not-love-interest Fiora, Dunban’s younger sister. But their peaceful lives quickly come to an end as the Mechon return, stronger than ever. Shulk finds that he can wield the Monado, but this newfound strength isn’t enough. A mysterious new Mechon, one immune to the legendary sword’s unique ability to slay the Mechon, appears and kills Fiora!
Now Shulk, with Reyn in tow, must go after the mysterious Mechon, the self-proclaimed Metal Face, to avenge their fallen friend! Along the way they’ll pick up Sharla, a medic turned sniper after her colony was all but wiped out and her fiance was killed, Melia, the High Entia-Hom hybrid princess, and Riki the brave, the chosen hero of the Nopon (also Dunban joins eventually). Together, they make their way to avenge their losses and end the war with the Mechon!
Again, I must emphasize: this is all at the beginning of the game, save the unique stories of the various party members you get along the way! This is not a short game, nor is the plot a simple one! As things go along, they all become wildly complex, featuring a huge number of twists and turns. Some are really great, effective and interesting!
Then there’s the end of the game.
Without spoiling anything, the final act of this game is bananas! It takes a fantasy with some heavy sci-fi elements and goes “YOU KNOW WHAT?! FUCK THE FANTASY!! WE’RE GOING ALL SCI-FI ALL THE WAY, BABY!!”
I hesitate to call it bad. But I do not hesitate to ask “WHAT THE FUCK?!” Luckily, the pull it together for a decently satisfying ending.
It helps that all the characters in this story are actually really good, interesting and likable! Shulk is a fantastic protagonist that drives the plot along marvelously! Reyn is a wonderful right-hand man who actually has to deal with his own fair share of shit! Sharla is tragic but charming and plays off of Reyn wonderfully! Dunban is a great mentor to Shulk, especially since he has to deal with the same extreme loss that Shulk does. Melia quickly develops from a total bitch to one of the most likable, sympathetic and badass characters in the whole game!
And then there’s Riki. The best character in any video game ever and the true hero of the story. Come, sidekicks! The Heropon needs no help, but he certainly appreciates it!
The setting is also used to marvelous effect! The fact that all these people are living on the corpses of giant god-like beings is not underused here! You get to climb from the bottom to the top and then right back again of each body in a way that feels natural and organic! Plus, it plays into the plot in some fun, creative ways later in the game! It’s a great concept that isn’t let to waste!
The narrative may not always be the cleanest. At times, it can be convoluted and even downright ridiculous! But it does the job and it does it well! For all its faults, the plot is still emotionally engaging, featuring some of my favorite characters in any video game and one of the coolest settings I’ve ever explored!
And that’s all just the plot! I still need to go over the visuals and gameplay! But as you can likely tell, this review is going to be a long one! If I were to put it all in one post, it would easily be one of, if not the, longest post I’ve ever written! So, to make it a bit more digestible, I’ll keep the rest of the review to Part 2, which will be out later today.
I hope to see you there!