I love JRPG’s but these days as I get older I get more time poor.
More JRPG’s have dropped the length opting for brevity over excessive grinding which has certainly made me happy. Xenoblade Chronicles 3 has reminded me of all the things I loved and hated about ridiculously long JRPG’s with a massive 150-hour playtime.
The question is, is it worth the time?
Well if you are a student that can only afford a game a month, well easily, you will get lots of time out of this one. If you are more time poor, it is still worth having a closer look as there is a real gem here.
If you are unfamiliar with the Xenoblade Chronicles stories, don’t be scared away just yet. The story is surprisingly self-contained with all but references to the previous games. This is really handy for a massive JRPG that is also the third in its series, as newcomers can definitely find their feet here.
The game kicks off with some long cutscenes and a tutorial battle that tells you a lot about this world.
We see soldiers in a massive battle where two sides are at war. When people die their essence feeds into these massive machines that seem to be driving the fighting.
I am keeping this vague here in case you want to enjoy some of the mystery of the world. Soon after we discover that our protagonists are in a fighting school where they battle all the time, ready for the next real battle. Should they survive until they are 10 years, they give their life to the queen, which is the ultimate honour. Immediately you should be engrossed, I certainly was.
This strange life they have is all based around this limited time. Die fighting, or live to join your queen in death, weird right? Well the game is going to smash you over the head with its themes around time so be ready for a lot of that.
The story is really interesting, but is mostly driven by some really good characters. I mean they tend to be anime trope material, but still really damn good.
One thing that is weird about the series, and as such this game is the combat.
You run around freely but to attack you must stop moving to let the characters auto attack. This alone creates a weird vibe on the battlefield as some difficult fights are hard if you want to be on the move, but you still need to land those hits. Many nuances come, but it is mostly based around doing arts, which are special attacks. These power up and if you line it up with timing of an auto attack then you can do some serious damage. I won’t get into the weeds of the combat because actually learning it is half the fun, and the game will spend heaps of time teaching you it. Basically it is just unique enough to differentiate from other JRPG’s, but still has a feeling of familiarity.
The open world is massive, and navigating around can be as much fun as it is annoying.
It is truly impressive that this game runs on the Switch, but some of those quests get really annoying. Running around collecting materials can feel unnecessary at times, and given the massive length of the game they could have easily had heaps cut. This would also help with pacing because questing can really break up story beats.
The game looks incredible; I mean if you haven’t seen it check out some videos. I kept being blown away that this is running on a Switch. Playing a game this big, and this beautiful on a handheld on the train just seems unnatural. How the hell the developer eked out every last drop of power to make this run is something truly incredible.
The voice acting can be hit and miss, but hits more than it misses.
Overall if you are a fan of JRPG’s then this is a must play. It is a great story, with some overly complicated combat that you have plenty of time to learn, and looks amazing. Having this on the Switch helps so you can do some of the mindless quest action on the go.
Just be ready for some long cut scenes as you get into the swing of things and be ready for one really weird story.
Released: August 2022
Platforms reviewed: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Monolith Soft