The Silver Grinding’s Tales Starter Guide


 XilliaSpread

Tales of Xillia
Characteristic Genre: RPG of Unwavering Convictions
(揺るぎなき信念のRPG)

Console (Year):

  • PlayStation 3 (2011/2013)

Playable in English via:

  • PlayStation 3

Tales of Xillia features two protagonists, Jude Mathis and Milla Maxwell, whose stories intertwine as Jude, a burgeoning young medical student, encounters Milla infiltrating a secret laboratory in which they discover humans are being treated as lab rats and a fuel source for a giant machine known as the Lance of Kresnik. Milla, who claims to be Maxwell, Lord of Spirits, summons the Four Great Spirits of Fire, Water, Wind, and Earth, who get trapped in the Lance, as they discover after making their way, as fugitives, to Milla’s secluded home and attempting to re-summon them under the assumption they were dispelled. The search for the Lance then becomes the focal point of the game, though the purpose of the Lance is left unknown until a revelation in the middle of the game.

Decent (if predictable) story, good characters, nice and short, pretty cheap digitally and physically, and really quite easy, Xillia is a good Tales game for those who might not know if they’re interested in or up to handling the series’ gameplay, and it’s a pretty good game of its own right, though the complete lack of vanilla costumes kind of feels hollow to me after playing any other given game in the series. A tip: play Jude’s story first. As much as Milla being a protagonist is cool, her side of the story split in the last third of the game doesn’t have the impact Jude’s does, and, in fact, you’ll be forced to play as Jude for a chunk of her story anyway. Jude is a good punchman.


tales-of-xillia-2-review-cover

Tales of Xillia 2
Characteristic Genre: Choices That Spin the Future RPG
(選択が未来を紡ぐRPG)

Console (Year):

  • PlayStation 3 (2012/2014)

Playable in English via:

  • PlayStation 3

Ludger Will Kresnik is aspiring to be an agent of the Spirius Corporation, but he flunks the exam and instead gets a job as a chef on an executive train; on his way to his first day on the job, he helps Jude Mathis find his way there, and gets framed as a molester, but when terrorists stage an attack on the train station, he takes the opportunity to hop aboard the train, where he meets Elle and defends her when a terrorist mistakes him for an agent and attacks. Ludger and Elle, now under Ludger’s protection, become the center of a web of inter-timeline intrigue and conflict as Ludger becomes a Spirius agent with the purpose of eliminating timelines that detract from the Prime one he’s from as he pursues his treasonous brother, Julius, to discover his aims.

This is, currently, my favorite Tales game. Darker themes, no ending that’s everything going right, an amazingly fun battle system, a cast of nine characters that all have wonderful interactions with one another, a postgame that isn’t terribly lackluster like Xillia’s, and it’s, for some reason, getting snubbed by a bunch of Tales fans. Basically the only downside is that you really ought to play Xillia before this for the full effect, though playing it on its own is definitely a valid choice. Comes with high recommendations from me!


ZestiriaWP

Tales of Zestiria
Characteristic Genre: RPG of Passion that Illuminates the World
(情熱が世界を照らすRPG)

Console (Year):

  • PlayStation 3 (2015)

Playable in English via:

  • PlayStation 3 (October 16th, 2015)
  • PlayStation 4/PC (October 20th, 2015)

Set in a world of two kingdoms, Tales of Zestiria tells the story of Sorey, a young man who lives in a village deep in the Divine Forest, who encounters Princess Alisha, in an excursion to a nearby ruin. Sorey travels to the world outside the forest in an attempt to combat the rising number of Hellions, monsters spawned by negative emotions, with his powers granted by Seraphim, a mystical race of spirits that act as a stabilizing force for the land of… Glenwood? Greenwood? Not sure because it’s not out in English yet!

Zestiria’s the first Tales game I’ve been super cognizant of the development time and promotional activity for, but despite that, most of what comes to mind when I think of this game is the controversy over Alisha, a character who was heavily featured in promotional material early on, and then, revealed through social media thanks to JP players when it launched, leaves the party for the second half of the game. This was exacerbated further by the announcement of story DLC, Alisha After Episode, which prompted Hideo Baba to say that characters’ appearance in promotional material reflected their order of appearance in the game instead of their importance or prominence, and that the game didn’t have a specific heroine, instead leaving it up to the players to decide on one themselves.

It’s not out in English yet, but it will be by the end of 2015; current estimates put it in Q2, or Summer of 2015! EDIT: Zestiria is confirmed to have a western PS4 and PC release in October of 2015!


Tales games might not be for everyone, but I hope this guide is a worthwhile resource for those of you who might be interested in playing some of them. I love the series, despite, at times, its glaring flaws, and I want more people to play them, so if any of these sound interesting to you, give it a shot!

Let’s enjoy some dang JRPGs!

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