Tales of Xillia 2 is another installment in Bandai Namco’s Tales series. It is a direct sequel to the original 2013 North American release. Set a year after the end of the original Xillia, the story combines the first game’s characters along with introducing new characters to explore.

From the art style to the battle system to the script writing, everything about this game is a Tales game. That is by far its strongest feature. As a fan of the Tales series, I was immediately drawn and settled into the familiar gameplay I’ve come to expect from Bandai Namco.

The characters and art style are colorful, adding a sense of light-hearted and whimsy to the game. While there are certainly serious situations, the game does not overburden you with a sense of the weight of the world on your shoulders as you may find in another popular Japanese role playing game series. Tales of Xillia 2 is about teamwork, friendship and doing what’s right. This plays into the game’s affinity system. You build relationships with the members of your team in order to create stronger team-up moves as well as open up side stories featuring that comrade in arms.

The main character, Ludger Kresnik is new to the franchise as the silent hero type. In fact, the game makes sure to point out you don’t speak a whole lot beyond “What?!?” “Heh” and “*Sigh*.” Ludger is also special on the battlefield. In each battle, there are four characters from your team fighting anywhere from one to five enemies. During the battle, you control only one of the four characters and you have physical attacks (called artes) and magic attacks (spirit artes). Using your spirit artes allows you to link to another character and perform special team-up moves to cause greater damage. Ludger can go a step further; using a device called a chromatus, he can pause the battle in order to fight the enemy solo on a separate plane of existence using a special weapon. This is especially useful in boss battles and is a nice change of pace to the somewhat repetitive battle system.

Bandai Namco does a lot right with the story in order to incorporate characters from the first Xillia. Using the concept of fractured dimensions, the authors take us to various timelines and alternate realities to weave a solid and endearing story. The only real downside to the story is this concept that Ludger’s main motivation for participating is this mountain of medical debt he has incurred to the Spirius Corporation for saving his and his young companion Elle’s lives. As if Ludger wouldn’t help Elle find her father or attempt to learn the truth about his brother without some sort of monetary compensation. It’s not the world’s worst mechanic, but there are times it feels very ham-handed.

Overall, Tales of Xillia 2 does everything right for being a Tales game. It hits all the right buttons in terms of story, art direction, battling and collection, but the game definitely plays it safe and never ventures beyond the familiar landscape it enjoys in its niche. I really enjoyed this game, but I’m left with the wish Bandai Namco would take a little risk and attempt to move the franchise forward. If you are a lover of the Tales series as I am, this is a definite purchase for you. Newcomers to the franchise may prefer starting with the original Tales of Xillia and work up to this installment. Any way you slice it, Tales of Xillia 2 is a fantastic Japanese Role Playing Game that you will enjoy for hours on end.

Tales of Xillia 2 Official Launch Trailer