Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition, the JPRG monolith 10 years later

Who I am
Marie-Ange Demory
@marie-angedemory

Sometimes it seems strange how coincidences manifest themselves in an almost ironic way. It happens that in a historical moment where awareness is strong towards the abatement of xenophobia and all forms of social hatred, it is published Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition which, with its themes and the “xeno” root of the name, seems to have been made on purpose to convey a very current and complex message for a video game. Perhaps it is my head and my way of seeing things that makes me associate the work of Monolith Soft with current issues of these days. Those who will read the review in a few months or maybe a year will hardly have this feeling at all, but I thought it right to highlight how this video game can, like many others, be the bearer of a positive example and to push to reflect on the things of life even outside. from the screen.



Ten years have passed since this Japanese RPG first appeared on the Nintendo Wii. Two decades ago it was labeled by several voices as the best JRPG of its generation, a small big satisfaction considering the technical power certainly not excellent of Wii. With the times that have changed it is time to understand if the game of that time, with the necessary corrections made for this remastered version, still has the charge of message and quality that it possessed at its first publication.

Always give me stories like that

After facing the original at the time in over 136 hours, I found myself exploring Bionis and Mechanis again in the same amount of time, trying to replicate the same experience that made so many players fall in love with this bolt from the blue that illuminated them with quality. last months of Wii. I wanted to understand how much, after ten years and a radical change in the tastes and fashions of the market, such a complex title could still be enjoyable. Because after a decade even the best of video games can miss a few strokes and find themselves aged badly or become anachronistic. Fortunately, the story of Xenoblade Chronicles is still incredible, perfectly orchestrated and with the right dose of irony without excess, with many subtracks that mix in an intertwining of light feelings and at the same time profound.



The story of Xenoblade Chronicles is still incredible after years

Monolith Soft has accustomed us to this kind of busy themes told in a plot that evolves into multiple progressive narrative levels. Each area of ​​the two giants is not only a scenic discovery to behold, but also adds an often unexpected new piece to the puzzle of the story. The initial personal revenge becomes something gradually bigger, more complex, touching on themes of racial struggle and clash of peoples which, in their fantasy setting, are clearly perceptible as soon as a certain highlight is overcome. Takahashi, creator of the game and the series, has stuffed it all with an intricate thread of theology that is the trademark of Monolith Soft productions. The incredible ability of Takahashi and his team was to create a bridge between this and the second chapter (of which you can find the review in our pages) deep but that allows you to enjoy both games independently.

The additional story, Future Connected, is practically a DLC already included in the game which, as The Golden Country returns for the second chapter, expands the story this time by talking about facts after the finale of the main plot by exploring the complex dynamics that can take place after events as important as those that occurred at the end of the journey of Shulk and his company. In these ten hours freebies from Monolith Soft the gameplay is also modified just enough to offer a different yet still familiar experience. Obviously it is fair to remember that the way of telling the story in game has remained strongly linked to the style of the classic JRPG with intermission scenes in many cases less lively than those we are used to today and many moments in which the dialogues are mostly to read than to live, but nothing more can be expected from a remaster.



This is how remastered editions are made

Fortunately, the more dynamic cutscenes are the part that has benefited most from the aesthetic improvements of this new version of Xenoblade Chronicles. Having brought the game to high definition has made the colors much more vivid, but above all the team has been able to take advantage of the modeling work done with the second chapter, and partly with Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, to give valuable features to old characters of 10 years. A painstaking work on the models which has its maximum realization in the hands, yesterday disproportionate today finally harmonious with the rest of the body. A modernization work that should be taken as an example as the right way to do a remaster.

A work so thorough that it almost misleads you into thinking that Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition is actually a remake. Which obviously is not seen that the textures and scenarios have been cleaned up and revived, but they maintain the same look and structure of the original as well as the monsters and other surrounding elements that are obviously children of a generation ago. Despite this, the magnificent composition of the scenarios still makes them beautiful to see and explore or even to portray in special shots. Here, perhaps the photo mode is one of the things that we still miss today.

The game world of Xenoblade Chronicles is a bewitching experience, despite the compromises

To be honest they are remained the small ones in the structural of the time. There are a couple of game areas that feel straightforward and sparse for exploration, and the second half of the game is less populated with new characters. The rest, however, is to be discovered in search of new secret places, new missions, new stories with an immense backtracking and numerous unique high-level monsters that can be faced only after the end game. Fortunately, even the navigation in the world and the collection of objects has been simplified with an on-screen guide always ready to indicate the direction of each element useful for the missions, and which if necessary can be completely deactivated, leaving the freedom to navigate in sight in the search. of specific materials and monsters. It will not be a pure open world, but this title has many similarities with this genre of video games so famous and appreciated today. Being captivated by the world of Xenoblade Chronicles is a bewitching experience, although there are some trade-offs due to the power of Nintendo Switch. The blur effect that gives depth and softness to profiles and scenarios in some moments is very accentuated, as it happened in Xeno 2, and in portable mode the frame rate drops every now and then as does the resolution that drops in a fluctuating way.



In this remastered edition for Nintendo Switch also the menus have been cleaned up and made more understandable. There are many added features, among which the one that makes it possible to choose the aesthetic style of clothing regardless of the equipment worn, thus being able to give the characters the appearance they most prefer or even a unique visual style both in combat and in the scenes of interlude. The new looks can be unlocked both by finding new objects and by completing new and interesting additional challenges accessible through a series of portals scattered in the various areas and which also represent a useful test bed for testing alternative team formations.

The Monado, its strengths and weaknesses

There is space in the long and complex network of menus available to the player Pro mode which allows you to increase the level of challenge even when you have leveled the party with the avalanche of secondary missions available. Basically it retains some of the experience points allowing you to get to the intermediate battles with the main bosses at a level that requires you to think about the strategy to be applied. A great addition that makes the experience more scalable. In combat, the level of the party makes the difference, but the multitude of variables to be taken into account makes the gameplay seemingly accessible but complex in the key moments to the point of requiring a lot of effort. It is not enough to equip the best available, because there are a whole series of bonuses and malus both of the techniques and of the gems to be equipped that will offer the most geeks a massive dose of brefing before the battles to find their best style.

In combat, everything takes place almost as if you were in an MMO, with automatic attacks and limbs to load and very few moments when time stands still. It is a proven system that has remained unchanged from yesterday to today and which forces you not to launch head-down attacks by activating special moves as soon as they are available, but requires, as already mentioned, careful planning. This is also because there are some arts whose effects must be chained between the different members of the team and, having no possibility to command the other PCs except during the group assaults, you have to be careful of all the symbols and messages that appear on the screen. Fortunately Companion AI has been improved giving them more awareness of the chain of attacks.

The gameplay in 2010 surprised everyone and today it does not disappoint.

In any case, the slight confusion that is perceived in the first hours of the game due to the amount of information that comes all together must be overcome and digested. With this initial disorientation gone, the gameplay becomes satisfying, frenetic and only a little repetitive in the sidequests if faced in sequence. The party members who gradually join the group are well balanced and less rigid in their characteristics as tank, healer or attacker. The versatility is great offering the possibility to "play" with team combinations. It is true that in some moments the game almost forces you to keep Shulk and take advantage of the unique abilities of his weapon, the Monado. However, the pleasure of a gameplay that surprises in 2010 and that today does not disappoint but rather lets itself be enjoyed with the right attention and without excessive worries remains.

USEFUL INFO

I played around 120 hours mostly with the Nintendo Switch in TV mode, completing a good portion of the side missions.

Duration
  • It will take you at least 130 hours to explore the entire game and learn every secret; plus 10 for the extra story.
Structure
  • JRPG with MMO-style real-time combat
  • Two giants to explore and dozens and dozens of side missions
Collectibles and Extras
  • Collection of objects to be cataloged for each single area to be found on the ground randomly.
  • Also included in the cartridge is an extra Future Connected story available immediately.
Game Card
  • Game Name: Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition
  • Release date: May 29, 2020
  • Platforms: Nintendo Switch
  • Dubbing language: English / Japanese
  • Texts language: Italian

And shipwreck is sweet to me in this soundtrack

Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition, despite its flaws - some correct, others unchanged - is an immense and engaging experience in every respect, yesterday as today. It represents, in my memory, one of the best remastered editions ever produced, while remaining a product of classic conception in a market already projected towards an avant-garde that could make it disfigure. Today it is difficult to think that a remake would have been better, indeed perhaps it would have removed a bit of magic and that patina of experience that a certain type of audience likes so much. In the history of Monolith Soft (of which I spoke in a substantial and heartfelt monograph) and in its long maturation as a software house, this game is perhaps the most shining and essential apex for understanding their way of conceiving JRPGs. A work that has left its mark and continues to leave it even after years and generations.

Xenoblade Chronicles would be worthy to be played by anyone already for all the aspects mentioned and without having its soundtrack in the ears. But to give the blow of thanks there is one soundtrack that leaves you breathless already from the home screen. One is pleasantly enthralled by how the orchestral musical composition of each piece caresses the images on the screen with harmony and naturalness. They are songs that have no age, that flutter in the headphones like an ethereal song. It often happens to linger on some track, letting his notes become not only the cradle of the present moment, but also the memory of plot events that they accompanied. The only real defect of the sound sector is the rhythmic series of phrases that the characters often shout during the clashes that in some moments seem noisy and confusing. But it's a paltry price you're willing to pay to enjoy this magical work of Monolith Soft. that runs through the soul and heart like a spell.

Videogamingallday.com review
Graphics

A good remaster. Just cleaned up leaving its original aura intact and still enjoyable today.

89
SOUNDTRACK AND DOUBLE ROOM

A beautiful dream in the form of musical notes. Timeless, practically perfect soundtrack.

95
GAMEPLAY

Despite the changes in tastes and fashions in the world of video games, the combat system and exploration still defend themselves well. Fighting and exploring Bionis and Mechanis is a dive into an immersive fantasy.

90
Total Rating scale
93
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