It’s hard to believe this game is part of an established franchise that runs about 3 decades now dating all the way back to the NES/Famicom, but only having so many new, core titles in its lineage among a sea of remakes and cancelled entries. Only one previous game was ever released in North America, Metal Saga for the PlayStation 2. Many years later, Metal Max Xeno is the first new entry that wasn’t a mobile game since 2013, but much like many other long-running JRPG series, you don’t need to know what’s happened in one to approach another.
You play as Talis who is on the lookout for allies to help turn the tides of war in favor of the remaining few humans. One of the very few who was able to overcome the onslaught and eradication of humanity by the SoNs and the evil mother computer known as NOA. He’s discovered by a small team of other survivors who now advise him to venture out into the vast world and look for other remaining survivors, so that humanity has some chance of being rebuilt. In a war waged against machines, 50 years ago that very same computer, NOA, became sentient and almost wiped out humanity – NOA reduced the planet to a wasteland.
Metal Max Xeno comes off like a mix between a JRPG and a survival game. Your tank’s single cannon only has so many shots, meaning you can only venture so far outside the base before needing to come back to replenish your inventory, regardless of your health otherwise. The beginning can be a real slog, which is punctuated by an odd early gameplay loop that makes a horrible first impression and betrays the deep intrigue of the game once its systems begin to open up.
There on-foot sections, so not only are you managing your collection of tanks, you’re also building your party members on a much smaller scale. Metal Max Xeno even revels in opportunities to trip you up, as certain enemies are impossible to fight unless you’re safely inside your tanks. Combat works in two ways. You can attack enemies, and if a hit is not successful, then the combat will turn into an encounter, where you and your enemies take turns in shooting each other. Beware though since your tank’s cannon does not have an unlimited supply of ammo, so you will need to resupply often – keep an eye on your ammo! Naturally, the more you fight and win battles, the more you will level up, and as you level up, you will get to learn new skills. Not only that, but Talis will also learn new job ranks which will help you on your quest. Enemy battles are random, and they are not always visible on the map until you go into shooting mode.
There are many classes available for you to try. Talis will start out with the Hunter class, but there are others you can make the most off, including the Sniper, Decoy, Mechanic and Survivor classes. Talis will have a number of members joining his party, and all will have different classes so you can pick and choose what is needed and build a party that just feels right and balance things out. you get more characters to join you, more tanks, and more parts. Metal Max Xeno then becomes as much of a deep, ultra-customizable party building game as it is a plodding JRPG. You can get new weapons for your tank with various properties, new engines that increase shields and carrying capacity, modify the actual structure of each tank to suit different combat needs, attach special abilities, so on, and so forth. Once you get to this point, the game becomes much more comfortable and friendly, and there’s great satisfaction in tinkering with your tank collection to find the most seemingly broke, damaging kits you can make out of the resources you have.
Metal Max Xeno isn’t all about eye-popping presentation but all about the gameplay, but that doesn’t mean the game is far from attractive. The characters are well designed and also well voiced to breathe life into each one nicely, giving the game more emotion. It certainly has a very anime-driven feel to it, as the environments don’t really give off a dark and gloomy feel like a more realistic type game would. Its effective use of cel-shading adds a cool element to the game and, once again, gives the game a more down-to-earth feel rather than feeling too threatening.
If you’re out on the market for a new RPG to play then definitely give this one a try because it won’t disappoint. This game is a gem and definitely a sleeper hit that is KASANOVA APPROVED.