Tales of Xillia is a bad Tales of game. Outside of the partner system making combat respectable, the rest of the game feels rushed, with an overall story that feels like fifteen hours were excised and the world is copy-pasted gorges. Worst of all, especially for a Tales of game, the characters are not engaging (Milla cannot carry the entire game on her bare shoulders) and half of them are not given anything to do. Tales of Xillia 2, however, fixes this last issue, and in personally the best way possible, by making the first game’s last-minute villains, King Gaius and goddess Muzét, into playable party members.
Villains joining the heroes to fight an even bigger antagonist is one of my favorite literary devices. When the bad guys join, it not only amps up the stakes, but has the potential for conflict-solving with a person whose moral compass does not exactly match the heroes.’ Contextless spoilers for a twenty-year-old TV show, but what pushed me through three-and-a-half seasons of Farscape was the promise that series villain Scorpius, the half “human” half lizard alien commander that had been hunting protagonist John Crichton for answers to how to make wormholes, would join John’s crew. Scorpius is now tasked with keeping the heroes alive to fight an evil worse than himself. A fitting example is an episode where everyone eats space oysters that link each other’s pain receptors when two people share a single massive oyster and will poison them to death in a few hours. At the last minute, Scorpius ritually fills his mouth with everyone’s space oysters, giving them more time for a cure, but at the expense of Scorpius, both a victim and perpetrator of torture, to feel all their intense pain. The episode ends with Scorpius screaming into the air to no one, as pieces of green and yellow space oyster escape his mouth. What if Scorpius learned kaboom at level forty-three and was the only party member that could use shadow magic?