We played… “Xenoblade Chronicles 3”, a captivating story between science fiction and poetic fantasy

We played… “Xenoblade Chronicles 3”, a captivating story between science fiction and poetic fantasy

Imagine an absurd and perpetual war, so old that both sides have forgotten its cause, so total that men are only born to be soldiers, so cruel that death has become the fuel of life. Thus arises the world of Aionios (eternal, in ancient Greek) on which, as far as memory goes, the nations of Keves and Agnus oppose each other. Here, the time lived does not exceed ten years: one is born there as an adolescent then, once formed, one is sent to the battlefield in order to fill a “vital dial”, a sort of survival gauge which feeds on the death of enemies but which exhausts itself, just as quickly. The rare survivors of this game of massacre will have the honor of being returned to the cosmos during a killing ceremony, at the end of their tenth year. Before new generations come to perpetuate the cycle of sacrifices.

The war serving as an argument for Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is justified by arbitrary rules that have plunged the populations of Aionios into blind enslavement. A powerful symbol of alienation, the dial, or the clock, to which the characters are chained is strikingly contradicted by the whole game: against the diktat of urgency, Japanese role-playing is by nature a genre devoted to the long time, to distraction, to haunting detours and to open travel.

nomads and monads

By accident, the small team of soldiers that we control at the start of the game binds to a group of the rival nation. A providential event frees them from the yoke of the dial. These adversaries by blood then unite to make their way towards the march of the Sword, a stone blade of titanic proportions, planted in the distance. Over there would slumber the hypothetical City, the last bastion of resistance to the eternal order of conflict.

With this starting point in the form of exile or flight, a typical motif of Japanese role-playing games, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 launches a grand adventure that spans as many wilderness areas as countless hours of gameplay. Along the way, the player witnesses the burgeoning affinities of a cast of characters, whose irresistible charm is in the pure tradition of fiction Japanese for young adults.

The highlight of the show, the giant robots are inspired by Japanese animated series such as

A collective initiatory story can be read implicitly, symbolized by the awakening of the Ouroboros, super-powerful entities arising from this association of former rivals. Our freed heroes will liberate the country’s military colonies, shattering the dials that held them in the grip of war. But with the mysterious Moebius organization on their trail, they will also have to face cynical powers that feed on a humanity reduced to the state of a puppet.

The fantasy of Xenoblade Chronicles 3 conveys a pacifist metaphor (see the character of the mentor, named Guernica) which, by staging a puppet war, denounces the puppet character of all wars, waged by the powerful against the youth, not without a striking topicality. Against warlike fatality, the game opposes ample and virgin spaces in which our team deploys; to the vicious cycles of programmed death, he opposes those, more virtuous, of ceaselessly reviving life. Unity of a diverse world, learning of freedom… this way that Xenoblade Chronicles 3 to open the eyes of his characters to new possibilities of existence (including that, perhaps, of growing old) is truly touching.

The fusion role-playing game

Appeared in 2010, the series of Xenoblade Chronicles constitutes the high point of the career of veteran Tetsuya Takahashi (Final Fantasy VI, Chrono Trigger, Xenogears). From this point of view, the saga synthesizes a long history of the genre. Its proven recipe is based on a clever mix between online role-playing – its division into large areas, its entangled systems, its well-defined roles within the team (combatants, protectors, healers) – and solitary adventure. predominantly narrative, full of cinematic sequences, twists and sentimental sketches.

Despite a busy visual inspired by that of online role-playing games, the fights are affordable and offer many possibilities.

Faithful to the formula, this new episode is akin to a successful amalgamation of the tenors of the genre: we find there the diluted charm of DragonQuestthe camaraderie of personasthe narrative splendor of Final Fantasythe colored line of Ni no Kuni, alongside the gathering, crafting, and cooking systems found in so many other games. In a more distant way, some will see in it an air of Suikoden (with optional characters to unearth in a world at war) or find the charming blandness of online gaming Final Fantasy XIVeven if it means dozing off in the soft hum of distracted peregrinations.

Acquired by Nintendo in 2007, in order to produce large-scale role-playing games, the Monolith Soft studio first stood out for its sense of wide open spaces, so much so that it collaborated on the open world of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Today, it’s more the rich and refined game mechanics of Xenoblade Chronicles 3 that seduce: the player can change class or role with disconcerting ease, indulge in the pleasure of merging compatible characters to transform into a giant robot, and indulge in the assumed automatism of confrontations saturated with indications visual, at the limit of legibility (teams can have up to seven fighters), but which provide undeniable pleasure.

Soul ferrymen

It is not, however, from there that Xenoblade Chronicles 3 draws its originality, but rather from its many poetic gaps, whose regularity marries the redundancy specific to Japanese role-playing. The most obvious of them: Noah and Mio, the two main characters, are soul carriers. They walk in the middle of the dead, accompanying with a few notes of the transverse flute the passage of those fallen at the front. Their tunes swarm the surface of Aionios while the souls of the dead evaporate. But who do Noah and Mio play the flute for? For those who leave or for those who stay? And since when, exactly, have they known each other, they who have so many times put their hands in their pockets to squeeze the instrument, bring it to their lips and blow together, side by side, facing eternity?

Pixel’s review

We liked:

  • endearing characters that we follow through a long and regularly poignant story;
  • a plethora of complex mechanics to experiment with astonishingly easy access;
  • the feel of a massively multiplayer game but with the convenience and immediacy of a single player game on Switch.

We didn’t like:

  • some of the usual quirks of the genre: collection, repetitive quests, sometimes sluggish dialogues;
  • a lot of automation, at the risk of minimizing the strategic impact of the player.

It’s more for you if…

  • you want a full and throbbing playing that goes perfectly with the rhythm of summer;
  • you are a fan of giant robots, teenage romance and Japanese role-playing games;
  • you wanted to get started in the series (no need to have played previous episodes).

It’s not for you if…

  • you’re in a rush ;
  • you don’t like to put down the controller to watch cinematics, certainly superb but extremely numerous;
  • you are little fond ofanime Japanese with archetypal characters and nested clashes.

Pixel’s note:

6 out of 7 flute notes.

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