Back to Reviews

Review | Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna - The Golden Country

"A pinch of nostalgia, a bit of old school vibe, FF12 battle system rip-off and huge maps to explore. That is Xenoblade Chronicles, and also much more."

by Foggy, 04-08-2019,

I was very happy on December 1, 2017 when Xenoblade Chronicles 2 got released for Nintendo Switch. First game in series was simply put a masterpiece on its own, developed by Monolith Soft. I spent like 200+ hours there and enjoyed the game so much. It had that PS1 jRPG feeling which I can never forget. Having Xeno 2 to look forward too was happiness on its own. At the same time, I never played Xenoblade Chroniles X which was released only for WiiU. Fingers crossed it will be ported to Switch someday. I’m sorry for never writing review for Xeno 2, but to do proper one I need to replay the game which will not happen soon. Instead, on September 14, 2018, they released a DLC – an extension to the Xeno 2 story as a standalone title worth every penny. It was just a matter of time when I will play it.

Lora is interesting protagonist. Jin is badass wherever you put him.

First things first, let me try to summarize some stuff. Torna, The Golden Country takes place 500 years before the events of Xenoblade Chronicles 2. If you played it, you know some stuff about what the game is all about. You are a Driver, simply called that as you “drive” your Blade. Think of it as a summon which you call during fight. There is a whole plot about how blades are born, all explained in Xeno 2 so I will not get into it now. They wake from crystals and have no memory of past events. Blades can serve many drivers, but connection and memories of them gets erased. A blade can become a Titan - on those you travel and hold whole nations. The whole world is in clouds and you can find villages, towns and nature landscapes on back of titans. I was really digging it, it’s a great concept and Xeno 2 offers story so good it’s unbelievable. 

Welcome cutscenes and for the love of god play in docked mode. 

You will play as Lora and her driver Jin as main cast. Jin is a blade that will be against you in Xeno 2, while in here he serves Lora and he is a good guy. Story takes place in Grommot and Torna where some events happened during which some villages were erased. It will all lead to Malos who is also main enemy in Xeno 2. On your journey you will meet Addam, a driver of Mythra – the Aegis. It’s like the most powerful form of blade. Last companion will be Hugo and his blade. He is very uninteresting character if you ask me. Story kicks in right from the start and many will like that. Me, for one, prefer Xeno 2 and how they build the story up to total cliffhanger, which was the highest form of satisfaction. Everything in this game progresses fast. Sit tight and enjoy.

Mostly its pound A, B, X, Y, down, repeat, left, repeat, down, repat.

As soon as you start, you are presented with first fight in the middle of some forest. Game explains bit by bit about battles, combos, switching blades etc. When I think about games that had similar battle system, it’s definitely Final Fantasy 12 – sort of like active time battle where you issue command, control your characters while they repeat the last action. Battle in Xeno in general is great. Each title holds its own trophy of how to do good innovative and mostly – fun battle system. There is an auto-attack which means you will attack enemies with your basic attack until you’ve done enough kicks to activate special skill. In here there are 3 main skills and 3 support skills plus one change combo skill.

Flying blondes highly present.

Main skills are mostly attack based, while some blades have heal or other good support moves. When certain amount of time passes, you can switch to your blade which will activate switch combo move. Those are great because every switch move is in different set and while game offers few states in what you can put your enemy, those can fit as a further combo enhancer. For example, you break your enemy, topple him with some combo move or simply that kind of skill. Then you launch him in the air and finally smash him into ground making massive damage gains. At the same time, you control only your character. A bit later in the game you will learn elemental attacks. All 3 characters in battle fill the special skill bar. It goes to level 4. Now, when you are level 1 you can activate simple wind element and wind-based attack. Some other character can build special skill bar to level 2 and continue with some other element making different combo elemental move and so on making level 3 final one. Now, that will inflict elemental status to your enemy. Those serve their purpose when you fill main special bar that all character fills with combos. Consider it as a limit break if you will. Whatever you inflicted as status element on enemy, attacking in limit break can bust that element and enhance combo. When you inflict 6 elements to an enemy/boss and break all those seals, it’s your ultimate attack time. Massive damage, sparkles everywhere, you name it. Fun thing about those is that every non-basic move-skill have sequence of hitting B button at the right time or rapidly to enhance damage. Also, switching blades can heal parts of your HP as some HP goes down but you can recover with switching. I find this very entertaining and fun, making it a loving experience. Downside is that sometimes it gets a bit repetitive with weak enemies (which still carry good amount of HP), but as soon as some big shot is there it gets interesting. Sure, it’s a button mash in the end, but a damn good one.

Trying to find those Witcher books.

Wow, I told a lot already and somehow, I just scratched the surface. Battles are neat and you will love them, I guess. I did. Since we are there, let’s go over skillsets and what we can do to make our character prepared for battle.

Before that, let’s focus a bit on micromanagement, menu if you will. I am not a fan of game menu/inventory. It’s too confusing and there is not even item/monster encyclopedia which makes some things very frustrating. When you finally get your way to characters, you will find 2 types of menus there – one for your driver, one for blade.

That ninja blade looks like he doesn't belong. I would be scared.

Drivers can equip some equipment to enhance either statuses like HP, auto-attack damage or so, or some other neat stuff to gain advantage in battles. Every character have few slots, making hard to select just few out of hundred you can collect. Drivers also have some status tree skill level up system, called affinity chart, where you can raise similar stuff like luck, HP, defense or simply have ones like starting battle will full skill that usually requires some auto attacking to fill. Lastly, you can upgrade your Arts, either support or attack ones. I miss more moves, but considering it’s a shorter game, especially for jRPG, it’s enough. It’s pretty basic and suits the game, but Xeno 2 had more options and I prefer that. There is also a Pouch where you can put crafted items which will serve as buff of some kind for some duration.

He ain't no Sephiroth but he can pack a punch.

Blades are a bit more complex. Same thing about arts and equipment plus one more option to modify weapon. Unfortunately it just enhance damage, block rate or some other offered specs. I’m really mad because they could have done that in a way that also changes appearance of weapon which does not happen. You can also enhance weapon and element of weapon for a driver, but it’s more basic than for blades. Still, I miss different weapons. Affinity Chart for blades is the most complex thing you will see here and often re-visit. Believe you me. In here there is everything (almost everything) you will use on the field. Like interaction with certain terrain conditions, blocked paths, holes etc. Leveling here goes by fulfilling certain conditions. For example, you need to kill 5 of some type of enemy. That can level up on branch giving you certain buffs. Other parts require crafting with that blade, using favorite dishes, swimming for some distance etc. When you level those you learn and upgrade terrain skills so you can for example open locked chests or revel blocked passages. Areas are full of interest points where you can apply that kind of skills. Many times you will reach secret map parts where neat stuff lies. But that also means you will often re-visit areas because you need higher levels of skills to get to some parts. That leads us to one of top points in the game – exploring and level design.

It all exist because of Titans. I wonder how much it would cost to rent there if this exists in real life.

First time when I played Xeno 2 I was blown away with how beautiful the world is. Huge ass maps with so many interesting paths, hidden stuff, enemies that appear only when its raining or when its dark. So much going on when you travel to next destination, you are bound to sidetrack every now and then. While many games makes re-visiting boring, here it fills natural and you have a feeling that you will reveal new areas every time you can reach somewhere new with your leveled skills. Usually it is like that, it’s worth exploring whole areas in detail. Side quests will also lead you to maybe un-explored areas or because without following one you simply cannot enter. There are only few maps here, and town of Torna. It’s still nice, but Xeno 2 is absolute winner in that area. Worth mentioning is that backtracking will also be required because enemies are too strong on some paths, so you need to return when you level up more.

Collect whole family of not important NPCs. Maybe you can brag about it.

Biggest problem I was facing in Xeno 2 was when you play in handheld mode. Game can drop to low res like 480p or lower. Hurts the eye. Really, play this docked and on TV. It’s much stable that way. Some scenes are nice though, but you will see on screenshots what I mean (was playing almost whole game portable). It also makes me sad that its only on Switch, I don’t mind but PS4 could show much more, making it a real eye candy. Don’t mind the graphics so much, game has a lot to offer besides that.

Can't not think about Xenosaga - Xenogears seeing those mechs.

Main side content is based on side quests initiated in areas where you can find NPCs (like some small ports or in town), and on raising community. In few areas where you can find people, you will be able to do a quest for certain NPC and by doing that or few of them, that NPC can join your community. Collecting more can open more dialogues and new quest. The reason to do this is because quests even though a bit mediocre, can lead to new areas to explore. That makes them worthwhile. When you raise max community, you will earn…Not going to tell you, try collect ‘em all. Reward is to laugh on. Quests gives good amount of EXP which you can use at rest points or Inns. That will be your main strategy to gain levels, hence more reasons to do them.

Specials and chains are fun and colorful. Overkill feels nice.

I must admit that I was enjoying the story much more in Xeno 2. Like mentioned, game throws at you from start. I just love when you are on 50th hour of play and you reveal new side stuff to do and eating the story like a good cake. But for sure, many of you can enjoy fast play curve that is present all the time. After all, this is not meant to be a full game like Xeno 2, more like DLC, so it’s natural to be so. You can finish the game rather fast, like 15ish hours. I was mostly done with all there is in more than 30.

Wicked boss. Feel a bit sad that Lora never make it past this DLC. It was sad even hearing all that in Xenoblade 2.

Dear Monolith studios, hereby I would like you to keep doing games like this. At the same time, give us better micromanagement and different weapons, larger and more complex equip system. Menu is a mess and takes time to get used to, but at least fast travel works fast. With more to do with your characters there will be more points for this game. Release on all platforms, everyone needs to enjoy the game. And fix that resolution problems for the love of god.

Other than that, dear folks, sit back, enjoy the beautiful soundtrack and take a moment to remember how it feels when you play that jRPG with soul. This has one, for sure.

"If you have switch, do yourself a favor and buy Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and this game."
Leave a comment
Please Log in to leave a comment

No comments available!