Nintendo has had a stonking year with the Nintendo Switch. The hardware promised gaming on the go and on the TV and has delivered better than we could have hoped. The games are even better with Zelda:BOTW and Mario Odyssey both being amazing and Mario Karts, Splatoon 2 and Mario + Rabbids and a range of indie games and it looks to be a Christmas hit. Xenoblade as a series has been on my radar since I got a chance to play it on the Wii so I’ve been looking forward to giving the last big release of the year a go for a long time.

So what if you’ve never played a JRPG before what is it? Think of an Anime and imagine controlling the characters in the fight scenes and getting the ability to add in subplots but the main storyline running along happily without any ability for you to change it.

The game has you playing as Rex. Rex is a salvager working from the back of his Titan ‘Gramps’ and living on the cloud sea dreaming of lost Elysium. He gets hired to do a salvage job and ends up on a quest to save the remnants of Humanity. You focus on Rex but you also have a small party who you control as well and who you can interact with or send off to do things. It’s an open world to some degree with you able to run off in whichever direction you want on whichever ship you’re on but you stay on the overall storyline rails. There’s an intricate combat system that I don’t think I’ve mastered yet with abilities and sub abilites that need buttons pushed and triggered in just the right combinations at the right times. There’s ability trees, potions, enhancements, items, foods and a whole range of details that will either drive you mad or get you rubbing your hands together in glee but which hang together sensibly.

So does it live up to the Switch’s promise? Yes and no. So far I’m loving the complexity and storyline but there’s some drawbacks. Chronicles’s wasn’t made by Nintendo directly and had a much smaller team working on it than something like Zelda did and it shows. The graphics are good but they don’t quite keep up the quality everywhere with framerate drops and things that look unfinished. If you can look past that the voice overs – particularly on secondary characters – are so bad in places that it takes you out of the story. Neither of these problems are anything new for JRPGs and if you take it as an AA rather than a AAA game they’re much more forgivable. I’ve got a lot of play time ahead of me but my initial read isn’t a shock. If you’re a Switch owner who likes JRPGs or wants to try one it’s going to be on your Christmas list. If you’re not interested in Anime or playing a game with both an intricate storyline and lots of complexity in play then it’s not for you. Watch this space.

Buy it from Amazon  

Price: ± £49

Specification

Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Genre: JRPG Action Role Play
Number of players: single player
Difficulty settings: one setting
Release date: First December 2017
Audience Rating: PEGI 12

Download size: 13GB

About Monolith Soft

Monolith Soft is a Japanese software development company owned but not operated by Nintendo. They’ve created a number of narrative heavy RPGs over the years and have a reputation for trying things out of the ordinary. This has worked very well in the past in some cases but has also lead to some very unusual results.

We based our Ergohacks initial impression five days of play. The full game review is still in progress. It was provided by Nintendo in December 2017.  This article was first published on 6 December 2017