Tetsuya Takahashi has one of the greatest minds in the video game industry. He’s a genius director and a master storyteller, with a wealth of knowledge and an abundance of ideas. He began at Square where he made Xenogears, and then founded his own company, Monolith Soft, and created the Xenosaga trilogy. Shortly thereafter, the company was acquired by Nintendo. Takahashi finally had the freedom he was so desperately looking for. That spawned the Xenoblade franchise. Takahashi has a brilliant mind. His games are masterpieces, each one differentiating itself from the other with its own unique identity. That begs the question, what is the best Xeno game? 7. Xenosaga Episode II: Jenseits von Gut und Böse Xenosaga Episode II is by no means a bad video game. It has some of the best combat in the series and built upon Episode I and was far superior. The problem is the game’s narrative is fragmented and the non-cutscene music is God awful. Yuki Kajiura did a masterful job, but Shinji Hosoe did not. That is surprising though because Hosoe is a good composer and did an amazing job with Zero Escape. Xenosaga II is also relatively short compared to the rest of the series and there are so many questions that are never answered in the series, like what really happened to Sakura, which is a shame. Rubedo/Jr is the lead in this game as opposed to Shion, and he’s actually a much more interesting character. The narrative is too fragmented and the non-cutscene music is God-awful, but the game itself is still pretty damn good. 6. Xenoblade Chronicles Xenoblade Chronicles was never supposed to be released in North America. Thanks to an online campaign, we got one of the best RPGs of the last generation. Although the English dub is somewhat annoying at times (I played in Japanese), it is a wonderful game and the combat was more modern than the Xeno games’ turn-based combat. It has a great story, it has incredible music, and the characters aren’t horrible, but they’re not as developed or as likable as they could be, with Shulk being a somewhat weak lead. In contrast, Melia was amazing and the villains are fantastic. Graphically, the game looks like an early PlayStation 2 game, but the world is so large ripe for exploration, so this is forgivable. The title is still an excellent game and a must-play for anyone who can get their hands on it, but it lacks the depth that the other Xeno games have. 5. Xenosaga Episode I: Der Wille zur Macht The first entry in the Xenosaga franchise is a very special game. While it is full of cutscenes, the turn-based combat is unique and the premise of the plot is fascinating. At times the pacing is a bit off, but it’s an incredible experience. It was a shame that most of Yasimora Mitsuda’s score was cut from the game. The soundtrack is one of the best video game scores of all time. While the experience is great, it feels somewhat unrefined. I don’t even know what purpose the mechs serve as they are barely used. Xenosaga is still a great game, no doubt, but it lacks something that is present in its predecessors. 4. Xenogears Xenogears was Tetsuya Takahashi’s first stab at a game as a director and it didn’t disappoint. Xenogears was originally pitched to become the next installment in the Final Fantasy series, Final Fantasy VII. Square found the game too dark so the game was created as we see it today. Xenogears has a deep lore, great gameplay, and is a masterpiece…until you get to the second disc. The second disc is a complete mess and keeps Xenogears from being an elite game. That being said, Xenogears was revolutionary in its time and has one of the greatest stories in video game history. The title defined what a “Takahashi” game was, being full of religious and philisophical idealogies, and set the foundation for all subsequent Xeno titles. It was so ambitious that it was actually “Episode V” in the overall story of its universe. Many speculate that it takes place in the same universe as Xenosaga, although legally they cannot co-exist because of licensing rights. 3. Xenoblade Chronicles X Xenoblade Chronicles 2 seems to be Takahashi’s dream project. The game itself is one of the best RPGs of its generation. The land of Mira is enormous and the player can literally go anywhere on the map from the outset of the game, which comprises of five continents. While the story takes a backseat to the gameplay, the combat builds upon what was established in Xenoblade Chronicles and to be quite frank, the story is fascinating. Unraveling the mysteries of Mira is a lot of fun and the music, minus a few pieces, is incredible, composed by acclaimed composer Hiroyuki Sawano of Attack on Titan fame. “15 years have passed since Monolith was founded, and I believe that with this game I have finally met the challenge I had within me, of creating an RPG in which humans and robots can co-exist.” With the success of Xenoblade 2, hopefully Takahashi gets his wish fulfilled and X is brought to the Nintendo Switch. 2. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is one of the best games currently on the Nintendo Switch as well as one of the best games to be released in 2017. It features incredible music, the best combat system to grace an RPG, a superb story, and wonderfully deep characters who develop a great deal on your journey across Alrest. It has some of the best villains in any Xeno game, especially Jin. While some may find Rex rather bland and the game to be too much of your “typical shounen adventure anime” -type game, Rex does go through some enormous growth in one chapter in particular. The blade/driver system is a very unique concept and you can easily derive over 200 hours of playtime in the game and still not complete everything. Sidequests are rather rewarding and net pretty valuable rewards, so there is an incentive to complete them. With the story being so good, especially the end game, and many of the religious overtones, this game makes its stamp as a definite Xeno game that all RPG and Xeno fans need to play. 1. Xenosaga Episode III: Also Sprach Zarathustra Xenoblade Episode III is the epic conclusion of the Xenosaga trilogy and Shion’s arc, which was supposed to set up three more games. Unfortunately, the series was cut short, but not before it went out with an enormous bang. Xenosaga Episode III: Thus Spoke Zarathustra is the best Xeno game. There is no doubt about it. It’s better than Xenogears, and it’s better than any of the Xenoblade games. It has the best turn-based combat of any RPG. It finally got mech combat right. The visuals are better than any other PlayStation 2 game. Yuki Kajiura’s music is spectacular, both lighthearted and emotional when needed but also epic and grandiose when essential. “That is one of the phrases that defines me. However, words give people many forms.” “All of those are nothing more than phrases that define me. They each define me, yet none of them are me. So far, the only one who can define me is you, Yeshua.” “The world can only be returned to the beginning.” The story is, without a doubt, one of the single greatest stories in all of video game history. It’s full of religious references, Nietzschean philosophy, and full of Jungian ideology, and the final chapter of this epic trilogy ties them all together in a perfect thread. When stripped down to its core, the story is about people, their flaws, their strength, the power of human choice, and the fortitude of human resiliency. Isn’t that what embodies every great story? It’s a shame that the series had to end prematurely, but perhaps with the success of the Xenoblade games, the franchise can be resurrected in some fashion, even if it’s just a Xenosaga HD Collection.