Beautiful experience

5/5
I've been playing jrpgs for over 25 years and can honestly say that this game has blown me away. It's hands down the best game I've played for the Switch (including Zelda botw) so far due to its emotional story, stunning art direction, graphics and orchestral soundtrack, with a refreshing cast of British voice acting. Graphics: The engine has been updated from Xenoblade Chronicles x and boasts a rich, vibrant, expansive world with an incredible sense of scale and detail. Textures have beautiful shaders and landscapes are rich with foliage. The stunning art direction is brought to life through expressive character models and unique animals scattered throughout the landscape. Much has been said about the adaptive resolution and frame rate when played in handheld mode but I have to say that as a predominantly hand held player, this has never been a big deal. The adaptive resolution has allowed for a handheld system to create such a rich world without compromising all of the effects that make it look spectacular; a smart compromise to keep things running smooth and perfectly acceptable for a hand held device. Gameplay: The gameplay is heavily driven by the storyline and ample, brilliantly directed cutscenes. If you invest in this you will be fully swept up and find it hard to put down. There is enough familiarity here to please jrpg fans but also enough unique elements to be far less niche and more accessible for all. There is a lot to learn and it can be difficult at times so if you're after a quick and easy to pick up game, this might not be for you. With this in mind, a deep and engaging experience, far beyond my expectations is here for the taking. It is worth noting that the pacing of teaching the mechincs is spot on so you dobt frel overwhelmed. Battles are a brilliant mix of auto attacks with free movement and ability to string together and initiate more powerful attacks; a great balance of fun and strategy. You also see your enemies before you engage in battle so no Final Fantasy style random battles here; far less frustrating when you are eager to progress. Sound: The music in this game is beautiful, emotive and perfectly complements the visuals and story. It's a refreshing change to hear voice acting with British accents and I feel this has been unfairly criticised in other reviews I've read. I find the characters to be charming and likable, often due to the quality voice acting. There is a heavy repetition of comments throughout battles, although this didn't bother me as this is often a jrpg trait. Overall: Alongside YsVIII (PS VIta) this has been my favourite game recently and I cannot recommend it highly enough. A brilliant game with high production values and real ability to draw you in and create an emotional connection.