Japanese culture in Xenoblade Chronicles 2

Over the past decade, we had numerous RPGs from both Westen and Japanese developers. Some of them were good while others didn’t quite live up to the expectations of many. Yet, we have releases such as Xenoblade Chronicles 2 for Nintendo Switch. At glance, the game is generic, yet if you start playing it, you will certainly get sucked right into it.

So, what makes Xenoblade Chronicles 2 stand tall? Is it the score? Visuals? Story? Or a combination of all? Let’s find out!

A love letter!

Elysium

Huge ships, titans, a tree in the middle of nowhere, blades, waifus, and some odd creatures speaking funny.

“What the hell is this game all about?” — I asked myself.

It speaks Japan all over the place. It is a JRPG after all, but in a sense, it’s different from games such as Persona 5. It has a charm that is often found in anime and manga. However, it’s not portrayed in the environment but rather how characters behave.

You see, Japanese people heavily rely on facial expression, posture, and tone of voice to display their feelings. As a matter of fact, body language and facial expressions are so vital that there is a dedicated book for ‘gaijins’ (foreigners) on how to interpret signs.

If you look at our main character Rex, he is quite energetic and hard- working. All his life he has been salvaging stuff from the cloud ocean and constantly working to keep himself afloat. All this at age 15.

As Rex himself says:

Never leave a debt unpaid!

This mindset is often called “hataraki-mono” and it literary translates to “hard worker”. Japan is a culture where labor takes precedence over your family, and there’s even a phrase for it, “karoshi”, which means “death by overwork”.

Visuals don’t really matter — it’s the feel!

While the game does look great and is quite graphically intensive on the hardware, it’s the atmosphere that shines the most.

With a dynamic day and night system in play, the player is greeted to a plethora of different settings. From hazy mornings to cold-looking evenings, you will definitely find a time of the day you like best.

Sunsets are transformative!

During nights, ambient light emitting from lamps is reflected on wet metallic surfaces while mornings reveal more details in the distance. All this effort just to set the mood. But don’t get me wrong, Japanese art is known to depict such scenes.

Take, for instance, the famous Utagawa Hiroshige and compare it to the opening location.

See the influence? See the scale and light work? Japanese artists truly love huge structures and rich flora in their art.

Nature isn’t the only thing that is often looked upon. Check out the Bon Odori — an annual summer festival that is held in old parts of Japan.

And now look at the Argentum Trade Guild location in Xenoblade. They are similar in style and presentation.

Yasunori Mitsuda’s greatest work so far!

The score was created in a specific way. The main composer Mitsuda wanted to follow what was established in the previous installment. He wanted to replicate the feeling and dynamics of the first game, all while maintaining his signature heart-pumping battle music.

Although he wasn’t the only one involved in the score production, he was the head of everything. According to a post on his Twitter account, the game's soundtrack surpassed 1TB of data. With additions from over 300 performers and 20,000 sheets worth of music, no wonder the game has some of the best tunes.

There’s more to Xenoblade that meets the normal eye!

I don’t want to spoil anything for you in case you haven’t played the game, but I can tell you for a certain, it’s worth the 60$ price tag. It’s a good game with a solid story and a nice cast of characters. The music radiates energy, the atmosphere delights, and it has Japan all over the place.

If you are keen on learning how certain games take advantage of the hardware, you came to the right place.

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