It’s rare to see a Tales of title being given a sequel and yet Tales of Xillia managed to accomplish just that. Will Tales of Xillia 2 manage to live up to the high standards set up by the original?
The sequel takes place some time after the events of the original title. An organisation called Spirious is one of the major companies in the new world. It just happens that the new character players control is trying to join this organisation. Ludger lives in the town of Trigleph with his brother Julius. It is clear that Ludger wants to impress his big brother, who works for the company.
The world of Xillia 2 is much darker and it’s definitely not as in touch with nature as the first title. Instead, it feels more like the second half of Xillia which involved exploring the continent of Elympios.
In terms of animated cut-scenes, it is safe to say that they are somehow even more detailed than the first title. The inclusion of characters from the original titles in the introductory cut-scene is a really nice touch. The user interface is very simple and sticks to the darker theme of Xillia.
Unusually, the introductory area is literally a tutorial since Ludger is doing his training at the same time. Those used to Xillia’s combat will no doubt already know how to play this sequel. Whilst it’s recommended that the first title is played (as it’s brilliant) there is a handy Library section filled with all sorts of information about the world of Xillia.
One of the biggest changes in terms of combat is the fact that Ludger holds dual blades that can attack many times with different attack types. It’s actually quite amusing to try different combinations of attacks.
Outside of combat, one of the biggest changes is how the story develops. At various points, players are asked for their input by picking between two choices. At first it seems trivial with choices like what kind of food Ludger wants to cook. Later on these choices are timed and the pressure is there to decide quickly. Tt does feel like it’s possible that these choices could have a meaningful impact later on, such as changing how others view the main character.
Ludger himself is unusually reserved and is rarely heard speaking, which is a bit eerie in a JRPG. There is always the text in the dialogue choices made, but the guy can barely form a sentence and usually just mutters a word or two. It’s highly unusual for a series like Tales of, where characters are usually very vocal about what they want. It did feel like Ludger was a very shy character and it’s something that is potentially linked to the story itself.
Those who played Xillia will no doubt like the fact that there are lots of small touches that will bring back memories. Step into the streets of Trigleph and the original music track that was first heard when exploring this city in Xillia is still heard. It’s really the small details that sometimes make a big difference.
Don’t get too comfortable because this Tales of title has a faster start than the others. The main enemy group is still Exodus and it has taken hold of the train that Ludger has hopped on in an effort to protect another new character he just met. He also forms an alliance with none other than Jude from the first Xillia title.
It’s clear that this isn’t a typical Tales of experience given the use of guns and the amount of gore. It does make it feel more like it’s an action oriented title. There are literally bodies everywhere, with blood oozing out of wounds, as the characters explore the train. Yet, it feels refreshing to play a JRPG where it is clear when characters have been hurt.
The Allium Orbs system is an evolved version of the Orbs system first used in Xillia. In this one it has a rather primitive use or at least it feels that way from what has been played. Basically, it seems like the main purpose of the Allium Orb is to equip skills for each character. Basically, there are different Droplets (like packs) and each will equip different skills/abilities when linked to a character’s Allium Orb. It’s quite confusing and hopefully it will have other uses later on.
A refined version of the Link Mode from Xillia is used in this sequel. In Link mode two characters work together to attack the same enemy. A bar on the side slowly fills up whilst fighting and it is possible to use combined special attacks when the bar is filled to certain points.
It’s easy to change strategy of the character linked with by tapping twice in same direction on the directional pad. It definitely feels more useful as well, in that a linked partner respond swiftly to threats, like enemies attacking the character from behind.
The train dungeon explored was narrow and it made it difficult to avoid confrontations with most enemies. It’s only natural given the fact trains aren’t really that spacious and surely other dungeons will have different paths to take and so on.
Now the story is rather complex and it really does feel completely different from Xillia. The characters keep jumping to different points of the story. It’s difficult to explain without giving too much away, but it definitely has a science fiction vibe.
Amongst all of this, odd ball characters still have a place in Tales of Xillia 2. A lady will randomly ask the character for help in finding her one hundred lost cats. Yes, she has even given each of them a name. It’s obvious this cat lady is an inspiring tale to wannabe cat owners all over the world. Just goes to show that Japanese developers can always find a way to make their titles quirky.
Despite all of this, the most unusual feature is when Ludger is burdened with a rather heavy debt. This puts players in a situation where it is necessary to pay off instalments from this debt before being able to continue the story. Funnily enough, it means having to take on requests from the job board to earn enough Gald (Tales currency). A developer has finally found a meaningful reason for completing every side quest. Even if it’s a bit distracting to have to think of these loan payments rather than just playing through the story without any interruptions.
Yet it doesn’t really matter much because the world of Elympios seems to have so much to offer. Just this small section explored during the demonstration is already making the idea of seeing everything else most appealing. Even if it means having to pay off some loan shark to gain access to the world of Elympios and beyond.
There is no denying that this is an unusual Tales of experience so far. Just the idea of being shackled by the chains of debt is already something not seen in previous titles. Add to that the rather complex storyline involving mysterious watches and location jumping, and it is clear that this isn’t your average JRPG.
What is certain is that there is a lot of information to process and that is just in the initial two hours. This is a sequel, but it’s definitely not the Xillia that many know and cherish. At least the basics like combat are still more or less the same. The idea of being able to make choices in dialogue is also interesting. If it really makes a difference later on in the story, the it could make for some memorable outcomes.
Tales of Xillia 2 has the potential of being the darkest Tales of title to date.