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Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Reviewing Xenoblade Chronicles 3

By HEAVY LOBSTER - A game that lives in perpetual memory.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is truly an unforgettable experience. I have never encountered any piece of fictional media that felt so real, so emotionally resonant. It's a gripping tale of humans struggling to rediscover their humanity in the face of an inhuman world, at once timeless and intimately relevant. The story and characters are the core of the experience, but it's not simply a movie game, as the gameplay is also excellent, with combat and exploration that complement the story and characters. The art style is stunning even considering the hardware limitations of the Switch, hearkening back to a 90s anime style that itself tells so much without saying a word. While similar stylistically to Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition, the subtle changes in presentation reflect a more mature, intense, and grounded tone even with many of the sci-fi fantasy trappings of previous games. The soundtrack continues the brilliance the series is known for in that respect as well and ties the whole thing together.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 review Noah Mio intense

While the game is similar thematically to previous games, the tone is noticeably darker, with a consistent melancholy feel throughout. There might be lighthearted moments here and there, but the inescapable weight of dire circumstances remains throughout. In the world of Aionios, there is a perpetual war between the nations of Keves and Agnus. To fight this war, the people of both nations are grown in pods, emerging as physically ten years old and immediately begin training for warfare. They then fight constantly over the next 10 years, needing to harvest life from the enemy nation to power their Flame Clocks so that they can live, and even those few who manage to survive these 10 years are sacrificed to their Queen in a ritual known as the Homecoming.

There's very clear insect imagery and references in this setup, with all life coming from the Queen, soldiers live in Colonies, and they are tasked with harvesting life energy as if it were nectar. Concepts like "family" and "romance" are unknown. The world seems so foreign to our own, yet still very relatable to our own struggles in a modern, atomized society. I feel a personal kinship with these brilliantly written characters, with all of the main party members given their chance to properly shine, and I feel connected to their struggle, feeling as though their struggles are the same as my own.

In the face of this dehumanizing setup two bands of soldiers from each nation are forced by circumstances to unite, winding up as outcasts from their own nations who must flee both of them to survive. In the midst of these dire circumstances our heroes gradually learn about the forces controlling the world behind the scenes, about each other, and ultimately about the nature of humanity and of life. It forces us to think about what makes us human, what really matters, and what makes it worth pressing on in even the bleakest situations. 

It might feel premature and presumptuous to call Xenoblade 3 the "Greatest Game of All Time," but that was the feeling I got when playing it. It's a truly unforgettable and magical experience that I will never forget, and I can't encourage everyone to play it enough. While it's nice to have played other Xenoblade games, the story stands on its own and it's perfectly fine to play it without prior experience. Really just go play it, it's an artistic masterpiece.

Have you played Xenoblade Chronicles 3? What do you think about it?

Heavy Lobster also wrote that Xenoblade Chronicles was a modern classic.


  1. Insect themes? I can get into that, although i suppose that means I'd have to beat xenoblade 1 first. I don't think you have to play the xenoblades in order, but i would like to. I think the greatest game of all time title would probably go to something more universally loved, and easier to control, like Super Mario Bros. Its easy to learn and offers the perfect amount of difficulty for all ages and experience levels I think. I mean I love earthbound and Metroid but even putting aside their somewhat niche audiences, I just don't think they are as (game mechanic wise) accessible to the general public. Be they gamers or not.

    I hope the control scheme on xenoblade three is better than the previous games, if i remember correctly the HUD was unbelievably clustered. I suppose this could be a worthy contender for the best game of all time for (most) gamers, but the music has to be as good as you say it is. No game will be the best of all time if it's music sucks, sorry Dread.

    1. The music most definitely doesn't suck. I think Xenoblade 2 still has the best soundtrack in the series, but 3 is no slouch either. Feel free to look it up on Youtube.


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