My Top 12 Games of 2015: #11 Xenoblade Chronicles 3D
This is one of the more interesting games on my list. I haven’t actually finished it yet and there is a good reason for that. This game is huge! I haven’t played a portable game with this kind of girth in a very long time. It takes me back to the first time I played Pokemon Gold/Silver. I remember finishing up the main game and thinking “This is the biggest game I’ve ever played.” Then, I come to find out, the entire world from Red/Blue was in there. Holy cow! How is there so much game here! That moment came to me again while playing this. I’m awed sometimes by what people fit on things. I realize that micro SD cards are up into the hundreds of gigabytes (potentially terabytes) but it still floors me. Even in my young age I’m still old enough to remember using floppy discs to try and transfer Sim City 2000 from a friends house to mine.
For the record that plan didn’t work out.
XC (as I’ll be calling it because my hands are cold and I can’t type for shit today) has you playing as the hunky but adorable Shulk. Very early on in the game you can get the characters bathing suit outfits, it’s a delight. That said there is a “touching” moment in the beginning that gets kinda ruined when everyone is running around in their skivvies. I am digressing, the story has you playing as Shulk as a member of the “Homs”. This is the name for humans in this world, which itself takes place on literal gods. The creation story here isn’t just some pie in the sky bullshit, you are legitimately living atop one of the two gods of creation (as far as I can tell).
Who lives on the other god? Well, the Mechons naturally and they are giant assholes. Variably sized mechanical monstrosities that love eating Homs. Seriously, they gorge on people like its Thanksgiving every day. It’s a thing to behold and surprisingly brutal for a Nintendo Console Game. I have 0 complaints about that, mind. Fairly quickly into the game Shulk will get his signature sword, whose name you better not forget: The Monado.
But worry not! If you do forget they’ll say it. Roughly once every 4 words. “The Monado saved us, which is good, had they gotten the Monado, that Monado worked out! But it did. Monado.” It borders on parody throughout the game as Shulk is more likely to say Monado than he is the names of his friends or quest givers. The voice acting is slick as shit by the way! I love it. All the VA work is grand to me. I also really like the music and the sound effects. This game feels really top notch all around. The game systems can be a little confusing at times but that is equally rad to me. I love a game that makes me work for it. I get a little tingly just thinking about experiences like the first time I learned to do something in Dwarf Fortress. That moment of revelation is intellectually erotic to me. Braingasms as they say.
The cast is really cool so far. I’ve met Reyn, Fiora, Sharla, Dunban, Melia, and Riki. I’m uncertain if this is the entire cast but I’ll talk a short bit about them now. I won’t be going into any spoilers. This is simply my take on them. Reyn is rad, I really like him. He’s got my kind of humor, he’s a bit of a dumb headed smartass. It’s awesome, I feel like more RPGs need a character as fun to be around as Reyn. Fiora exists, I guess, she hasn’t really stuck around in my mind too much. She’s not bad, she’s like your everyday average person. I can’t criticize her for being realistic. Sharla, jesus. I almost came to hate her because of her brother. He’s the biggest pain in the ass to ever be in an RPG. He’s the NPC you always want to die but keeps coming back. Maybe someday he will die in this game, maybe the writers will give me that moment. Sharla unfortunately shares his scent, I see her and remember him. Dunban is basically Sephiroth but if he were a good guy. Maybe more accurately he’s Auron from FFX. Cool dude. Melia is pretty neat, I like her quite a lot. She has that mystique about her that really works for me. I’ve begun using her more than Sharla. And finally. Riki.
Riki is my Heropon. The cinnamon on my roll. He’s so great, I added him to my team the moment I could and I haven’t looked back. I don’t care if he’s strategically not viable. Riki all the way. I’ll be finishing this game with him dropping all sorts of debuffs on our foes.
Look at him! Jesus H. Tabbernackle! I love him.
The gameplay is really interesting. This is the kind of active system I don’t mind. It is still technically turn based but your turns are based around your moves more than your actual character. It hits a lot of the same notes that FF12 did for me, and those of you who have seem me rambling about games know that I really like FF12. You can have up to 8 skills that, in many cases, can combo up to give additional effects or damage. It’s a neat system and I really like trying to maximize my output with it. Additionally you auto attack as long as you are in range. This means that sometimes I can kinda AFK while my team takes care of stuff if I want to level while sorta mentally checking out. I appreciate that.
Also, the Monado has the most Monado powers of all Monados. Shulk is not “required” for your team in the literal sense, but the Monado busts so much ass that you wouldn’t want to avoid using him. I let the AI handle my friends (even though I could control them).
There is also a base building system in the game that is sorta rudimentary but still neat! I really like having an impact on the world around me in RPGs even if it is somewhat light. Also there is a booklet called the “Collectopedia” which hits some pretty deep rooted needs in my life. I love going from map to map to find the missing items from it. It’s basically a stampbook that also gives you lots of nice stuff if you complete it.
There are a shit ton of side quests. So much so that most people suggest you don’t do them all. It’ll, I’m told, crush your soul eventually. I haven’t hit that point yet but I can see where people might be coming from. Additionally the mobs in a zone can vary by tens of levels. This is pretty cool and makes it feel more alive. But it also means you might stumble into a really pissed off level 99 gonnafuckyourfaceasaurus when you meant to be farming level 5 pigchickens.
I want to point out “gonnafuckyourfaceasaurus” did not flag in my client as misspelled. Not joking. Guess that’s a word now.
Admittedly this game could end awful. Maybe the conclusion of this story will be a giant box of camel shit and I’ll walk away sad. But I really can’t see that being the case. After a few days of played hours I’m finding myself absolutely delighted by it. This is one of the best handheld experiences I’ve ever been lucky enough to have played. This is a tentative review, I may come back and edit this if the end of the game falls flat. But as of my current experience. I’d say this is a great game. It provides so much content for a mobile game that I keep waiting for it to remind me I owe it more money. The graphics are just fine, the controls never take away from the experience for me, the actual gameplay mechanics are solid, the enemies never really get boring, the major villains presented thus far have character, and so on and so forth.
It does little to offend and does quite a lot to impress. All that I really ask from games.
The game COULD end up awful, but it'll need to try real hard. The further I get into it the more I like it. The amount of content it provides in a single purchase mobile title is just obscene. This reminds me of what got me into gaming as a kid. A complete and sometimes overwhelming experience that just seems to bleed passion. The folks who worked on this definitely have did a great thing and I hope their sales were good enough to garner celebration at their studio. For now I find it great, will return to this review if anything changes.