Published on September 17th, 2018 | by voxx0
Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna The Golden Country
This prequel story to Nintendo and Monolith’s Xenoblade Chronicles 2 for Nintendo Switch manages to show off plenty of charm of its own, and while it helps to have played the main game in terms of context, this is very much a standalone adventure as well. While it is significantly shorter, you can still get a over 20 hours or so of gameplay out of it, making it worth picking up. For season pass holders for Xenoblade 2, the prequel is included as part of the price, which is an even better deal.
In this game, things are simplified somewhat, and while it is inspired by the mechanics of Xenoblade Chronicles 2, it still manages to feel like its own unique experience. Set 500 years in the past, during the Aegis war that saw Praetor Amalthus rise to power, we follow the story of Lora and her blade Jin, and their fateful meeting with Addam and Mythra on a quest to prevent Malos from destroying the world of Alrest and all humanity. It helps to fill in some of the gaps the limited flashbacks in the main game leave, but this is by no means its only positive.
While we’re limited to only exploring the titans of Torna and Gormott, exploration is familiar, with monsters of varying levels roaming the land, a number of collection points to obtain items, and visually stunning backdrops. Combat-wise, things feel a lot cleaner and more straightforward this time round. The humans have elements like their blades, and each team of three can be switched around mid-battle based on strengths and weaknesses. Blade combos are back, meaning you can stack up specials to unleash extra power, as well as driver combos allowing you to temporarily disable foes with effects such as topple and launch. Switching up your characters mid-battle is important not only for landing the most effective hits, but also for ensuring your HP doesn’t drain too low too quickly. It’s an interesting mechanic, and one that is pretty easy to learn.
It is clear that we’re living in the past, and during times of war. Rather than shopping for objects to aid you in your journey (as there are no shops left), various camps are set up along the way where each character can craft specific boosts using the items gathered from the scattered collection points. Another significant change is the sense of community this game encourages. A throwback to the old days of Xenoblade, you can build a community network up with the residents in various different areas by talking to them so many times or completing certain quests. While this is essentially a side-quest, it is still worth taking up these jobs as you get to delve further into the lives of the NPCs, and at one point your community level must reach a certain point to be able to progress with the story. Plus, it adds more gameplay, which can never be considered a bad thing!
Like with anything, there are a few negatives. Searching for the collectibles required to craft certain items can grow quite tedious after a while, and the mini map isn’t always the easiest to follow, as some areas have multiple levels but you don’t know if your destination point is up the top or down the bottom of the area, for example. The side-quests can also get slightly repetitive. However, all in all it’s a wonderful addition to the series that fans have been craving, and it doesn’t disappoint. There is plenty of emotional storytelling in the many cutscenes, the visuals are gorgeous, and the mechanics are just so clean, as though they’ve learned and improved. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is fantastically dense which, while good, can be slightly daunting in the beginning, but Torna The Golden Country has got it just about spot on.
- By Victoria Hydes