Imagine an absurd and eternal war, so old that both sides have forgotten its cause, so total that men are born only 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 the nations Keves and Agnus, as far as memory goes, oppose each other. Here, the time lived does not exceed ten years: you are born there as a teenager, and once formed, you are sent to the battlefield to fill a “vital disk”, a kind of survival meter that feeds on the death of enemies, but depletes itself, just as quickly. The rare survivors of this massacre game 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 victimhood.
The war serves as an argument for Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is based on arbitrary rules that have plunged the population of Aionios into blind slavery. A powerful symbol of alienation, the dial or clock to which the characters are chained is strikingly contradicted by the entire game: against urgent dictation, Japanese role-playing games are by nature a genre devoted to long time, to distraction, to haunting detours and to open-ended journeys .
nomads and monads
By chance, the small team of soldiers that we control at the start of the game bonds with a group of the rival nation. A providential event frees them from the disk’s yoke. These opponents of 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, the hypothetical city would slumber, the last bastion of resistance to the eternal conflict order.
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 budding relationships of a series of characters whose irresistible charms are in the pure tradition of Japanese fiction for young adults.
A collective initial history can be read implicitly, symbolized by the awakening of the Ouroboros, super-powerful entities that emerge from this union of former rivals. Our liberated heroes will liberate the country’s military colonies and crush the discs that held them in the grip of war. But with the mysterious Moebius Organization on their trail, they will also have to face cynical forces that feed off a humanity reduced to a puppet state.
Fantasy about Xenoblade Chronicles 3 conveys a pacifist metaphor (see the character of the mentor, named Guernica), which, by staging a puppet war, condemns the puppet character of all wars, waged by the powerful against the youth, not without striking actuality. Against war-like deaths, the game counters abundant and virgin spaces where our team deploys; to the vicious cycles of programmed death, he opposes the more virtuous, incessant revival of life. Unity in a diverse world, learning about freedom… this way Xenoblade Chronicles 3 opening his characters’ eyes to new possibilities of existence (including perhaps growing old) is truly touching.
Appeared in 2010, the series of Xenoblade Chronicles represents the highlight 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 tangled systems, its well-defined roles within the team (combatants, protectors, healers) – and solitary adventures. predominantly narrative, full of cinematic sequences, twists and sentimental sketches.
True to 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 personsthe narrative splendor of Final Fantasythe colored line of Ni no Kuni, along with 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 The Sui Code (with optional characters to uncover in a world at war) or find the charmingly bland online game Final Fantasy XIVeven if it means dozing off to the soft hum of distracted peregrinations.
Acquired by Nintendo in 2007 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 Xenoblade Chronicles 3 which seduces: the player can change class or role with disturbing ease, indulge in the pleasure of fusing compatible characters to transform into a giant robot and indulge in the supposed automatism of confrontations saturated with visual indication, on the verge of legibility (teams can have up to seven fighters), but which gives undeniable pleasure.
However, it is not from there Xenoblade Chronicles 3 derives its originality, but rather from its many poetic gaps, the regularity of which marries the redundancy of the Japanese role-playing game. The most obvious of them: Noah and Mio, the two main characters, are soul carriers. They walk among the dead and accompany with a few notes of the flute the passage of the fallen in front. Their melodies swarm the surface of Aionios as 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 have they known each other, those 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?
- endearing characters that we follow through a long and regularly gripping story;
- a wealth of complex mechanics to experiment with surprisingly 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 genre’s usual quirks: collection, repetitive quests, sometimes sluggish dialogue;
- a lot of automation, with the risk of minimizing the player’s strategic impact.
It is more for you if…
- you want a full and pounding game that fits perfectly with the rhythm of summer;
- you are a fan of giant robots, teenage romance and Japanese RPGs;
- you wanted to get started with the series (no need to have played previous episodes).
It’s not for you if…
- you are busy;
- you don’t like to put down the controller to watch movies, certainly excellent but extremely numerous;
- you are kind of happyanime Japanese with archetypal characters and embedded clashes.
6 out of 7 flute notes.