Retro Play: Xenogears
RPG’s are known for telling complex stories which involve characters and themes that are meant to represent certain ideas of humanity. For instance, a hero who is altruistic and faces the consequences of his first kill is a major theme in many RPG’s.
It echoes the human condition of the conscious. Such heady conversations are arguably minimalist in many RPG’s as they are more into telling a story then wondering about the philosophical conundrums of humanity. And then you have games like Xenogears.
Xenogears is the first game in the complex development story of the Xeno series. The game itself was created with the power of several influential people from the earlier years of Final Fantasy and it shows.
Fans of the games will find references to certain characters like Sabin from the Final Fantasy series, and even some Chrono Trigger references lodged in. But as a whole, Xenogears stands on its own.
What made Xenogears different from many other games of its time was its unabashed and ambitious desire to conquer controversial topics such as religion, philosophy, and psychology. It was not afraid to turn away from the typical themes of RPG’s like man vs himself, man vs gods, and man vs the world, to give very close to home references to our own world religions, conflicts, and controversies.
The story itself starts off in a grounded narrative with characters and story backgrounds that we can get into. But the narrative shows its ambitious nature around halfway into the game.
Another aspect of the game’s story which makes it important even today is the way in which its antagonists were treated. It’s arguably one of the deepest aspects of the experience. Each of the enemies has a long and complicated tragedy that unfolds.
It makes you question your own motives as the hero and breaks the wall between good and evil.