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Xenoblade Chronicles review
by Sam K

Xenoblade Chronicles is an action role-playing game developed by Monolith Soft, first released on the Wii in 2010, later receiving a port to the 3DS in 2015, and a remaster for the Switch in 2020. The world of Xenoblade Chronicles is set upon two gigantic beings, the organic based Bionis is home to all natural life, and the mechanical based Mechonis is where the robotic Machina live. Shulk, the game’s protagonist, is part of a human-like race called the “Homs” who live on Bionis and are currently trying to survive constant attacks from the Machina. The game's story revolves around Shulk discovering he has the power to wield the legendary sword, the Monado, and uses its power to take revenge on the Machina following their attack. What begins as a predictable JRPG story, soon evolves into a tale which takes many twists and turns resulting in an engaging story bolstered by a delightful cast of characters from Shulk's childhood: best friend and protector Reyn, disabled war hero Dunban, Shulk's love interest and Dunban's sister Fiora, the strong-willed and kind Sharla, adorable comic relief Riki, and the persecuted princess Melia. Each party member has depth and adds something important to the team, creating what could be described as one of the most likeable JRPG parties of all time. The villains of the story, while having strong backstories allowing the player to understand how they became the way they are, also find a way to simultaneously remain threatening.
     No matter how good a video game's story is it still needs to have strong gameplay to back it up and Xenoblade Chronicles certainly does. The game is very open ended, allowing the player to travel all over a diverse group of landscapes. Each area you explore is filled with items to collect, NPC’s to talk to/get side quests from, and landmarks to find and use as fast travel point. Being a JRPG the game offers no shortage of enemies to fight. In combat, Xenoblade employs a real-time action-based system which means in battle, your selected character attacks automatically when in range of the enemy. All the player does is move and use special attacks called arts to either damage an enemy, heal an ally, or topple an enemy to immobilize it. One of the game's most unique features is that by using the power of the Monado Shulk can get a glimpse of the future and change it. For example if an enemy is about to use a powerful move that could kill a party member Shulk can put up a shield to block it. This battle system works very well and doesn’t get stale throughout the 90-hour runtime. Once it ended I was surprised to see I had spent 90 plus hours in the game because it has so many small touches to make the experience convenient like not having to talk to a quest giver once you have completed a simple fetch quest.
     Xenoblade Chronicles is a beautiful game it may be restricted to underpowered consoles but it’s distinctive art style shines through creating a visually stunning game. Xenoblade’s score was composed by 6 people and it is one of the video game’s industries best. Special mention goes to the Main Theme, Mechanical Rhythm, and Engage the Enemy.
     Xenoblade Chronicles is a game about fate and how no matter how things look destiny can be changed. It’s a fitting theme because this game seemed to change the fate of JRPG’s coming stateside. While this game was only a moderate success selling a little over a million copies with the 3DS re-release(the remaster has already sold over 1 million copies).  The moderate sales led to a spiritual successor with a true sequel in 2017. Xenoblade opened the door for companies to release more niche JRPG's in the west. Its influence can be seen in games like Final Fantasy 15 and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (which Monolith Soft helped develop). In my mind Xenoblade Chronicles remains a gem that only grows more impressive with age. I guess you could say I'm really feeling it!

Other reviews2

I don't think this is game is a masterpiece or the best JRPG of its generation, it has a lot of problems: the sidequests are just plain bad and uninteresting, there are a lot of tutorials and things to do that are very poorly explained and the menus and crafting are very clunky to said the least. That said, the combat is an absolute wonder, the soundtrack is also a work of art, the story is good but the characters are not in the same height and for that reason the story feels a little underwhelming. In the end I wanted more of that exquisite combat, but be aware that it can be very long (It took me 68 hours just to complete the main quest, without deep exploring or side questing, also there's a lot of grinding).
«Just one more turn»
«That ending!»