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Xenoblade Chronicles X’s Silent Protagonist Ruins The Experience

"Developer Monolith Soft’s Wii role-playing epic, Xenoblade Chronicles, was one of the finest RPGs to release in many years. The game’s masterful blend of heartfelt storytelling and wide-open sense of discovery as you explore the hulking remnants of the dual giants, Mechonis and Bionis, is a frequent topic of discussion a round the Hey Poor Player water cooler. Having said that, it goes without saying that the recent release of the game’s successor, Xenoblade Chronicles X for the Wii U, was one of the our anticipated games to come down the pipe in 2015. Unfortunately, upon firing up the game we can’t help but feel a little burned with the final result, largely due to the studios’ decision to incorporate the dreaded “Silent Protagonist” as the game’s starring character."

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derkasan2610d ago

I think a silent protagonist could work, given the right circumstances. Shame it doesn't work here.

dead_pixels2610d ago

Yeah, I know what you mean. Unfortunately, your character ends up coming across as a completely peripheral protagonist.

Transporter472609d ago

I played White Knight Chronicles, and it is the same way. I love White Knight Chronicles, but I guess i'm one of the few ones.

Neckbear2610d ago

It does work, though. Your mileage may vary, but the silent protagonist in this game feels closer to a somewhat dumbed-down version of a CRPG protagonist (as in, the concept is the same, it's only that you generally get from two to four dialogue options rather than eight or more). I mean, your options even affect the outcome of certain quests and all (including the death of many, many generic NPCs), and you can't really have that with a voiced protagonist in a JRPG.

Though, I'm one of those few people who actually enjoy silent protagonists, I really like how he's done in X. Never the actual center of anything, unlike many other RPG protags, but once you advance through the game NPCs start calling you by name and all. It's pretty neat.

rjason122610d ago

Yeah, I loved the first xenoblade chronicles, but it's just weird not hearing the main character talk.

dead_pixels2610d ago

Has it prevented you from caring about the story at all? It's been an absolute roadblock for me.

rjason122610d ago

Not too much, I haven't gotten too far myself though, only through chapter 3 after around 8 hours, the one thing that really bugs me is the menu text size and how blurry it is, I have to switch to the gamepad screen to look through quests, my status, equipment, etc. it's just like monster hunter 3 ultimate text issue.

YoungPlex2609d ago

I know what you mean, I started last week but I literally just got to NLA and stopped there, damn work lol. I started remembering Xenoblade Chronicles on n3ds XL/Wii and started thinking how one of the main things I really enjoyed about XC was the acting from the protagonist Shulk, especially during his encounters with Metal Face! Even though I'm not a fan of "heavy" European accents, "I much rather prefer European accents like those found in Demon's/Dark Souls and Bloodborne," I still enjoyed and found that Shulk played a key roll in why I liked and cared for the story in Xenoblade Chronicles.
"You will know the pain and suffering you've caused."
"I'LL KILL YOU!!!!!!!!!!"

rjason122609d ago

Same here about shulks voice, it really grew on me!

JMPetrequin2610d ago

At first I wondered if story just wasn't bring treated as all that important, but no. It's significant but stunted.

Metallox2610d ago

It's silly and lacking when you compare it with the original Xenoblade's one. I also miss Riki, Tatsu is just there to get cynically attacked by Lin.

rainslacker2609d ago (Edited 2609d ago )

That's why I never liked the silent protagonist. It assumes the player is meant to see the game from their perspective through their avatar. But when it comes to the story, it's really just a bunch of NPC's telling you how you're supposed to feel instead of having you connect to the story through connection through your avatar.

There are some games where the silent avatar works, like Ys or Zelda. But in those games, the character is silent, but you know his reactions and feelings to what's going on around him. The first bioshock did silent protagonist very well, and the 2nd created the connection to the protagonist from the start, so it wasn't actually silent.

As a disclaimer, I haven't played Xenoblade Chronicles yet, and don't know which place this avatar falls into, but I always assume silent protagonist means their only connection to the story is through what is said about them or to them, and not through their own actions or words.

Metallox2610d ago

"Does it ruin the experience" it's not a phrase I would use as a title, and the author definitely agrees with me on this one. The character's predisposition was just underwhelming, and it doesn't harm the other production values of X.

As such, I also found weird the lack of voice acting for the customized character, but it wasn't the only issue I found through the journey, and shortly after it was obscured by these new circumstances; like, for example, the awkward silences, lack of music during cutscenes, incoherent use of music during scenes (like that tragic song they put during the introduction of the online mode in BLADE's Barracks), Robot Devil's syndrome ( https://www.youtube.com/wat... ) and an overall slow pacing in cinematic situations that I still don't get used to.

So, if anything, the silent protagonist is one of my minor issues when it comes to X's story and relations with other members of the cast. And even then I'm still enjoying all the narrative aspects of the game.

dead_pixels2610d ago

I agree with you on all of your points, though, like I said in my piece, it's hard to get over the hump that the silent MC brings, especially when you go in expecting more of what was offered in the predecessor. So in that regard it kind of has ruined the game for me, to an extent, as it makes it very hard to muster up the drive to continue, as I care very little about the MC.

rjason122610d ago

I expected it to be very similar to the first game, but it's really not, I'm still enjoying it though, and can see myself putting over 100 hours into the game, first one took me 160+ to fully get through everything and beat it. They stated that their next game will be more story focused though!

DiscoKid2610d ago

Them not being silent enough is the issue. The battle quotes are really cheesy. But I just reached a point in the story where I became extremely connected to my avatar.

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