RPGs continue to evolve and demonstrate that you don’t always need breathtaking visuals to really stand out and be entertaining. This is exemplified with NIS America and Kadokawa Games’ latest action RPG, Metal Max Xeno, which takes you on a journey into an post-apocalyptic world where humanity is near extinction, and the handful remaining must do what it takes to restore balance. While the post apocalyptic genre has blossomed recently and turned to the more zombie-esque appeal for the modern audience, Metal Max Xeno stays on its own trail, putting players into a unique world where modern tanks are the answer to your troubles. Anyone who’s looking for a new adventure, where customization is necessary to survival along with constant teamwork and skill upgrades, will most certainly have an exciting time with Metal Max Xeno.
What to Expect
Metal Max Xeno is not your typical style RPG where you’re thrown into a fantasy-type setting and must fend off enormous mythical enemies. Instead, you’re thrown into a dystopian world where nasty monsters and humongous tanks run rampid. It’s your responsibility to stop this invasion and eradicate the SoNs (a corrupt corporation that wiped out nearly all of the entire human population) and bring justice back to the survivors. With an interesting combat system, where you’re able to either travel by foot or by tank, Metal Max Xeno provides a unique experience that you’ll never find in any other RPG title. Due to the combination of both on foot travel and tank exploration, players must be able to strategically fend off certain enemies either underground or above ground, where enemies are scattered all around. Unlike in other conventional RPGs, where if an enemy sees you the battle commences, in Metal Max Xeno you’re the one who calls the shots, and can either proceed into battle by shooting the enemy or continuing on your course to the next mission.
Of course, if you want to level up and defeat the stronger enemies, then engaging in battles is imperative, but the choice is yours!
Metal Max Xeno stars a young survivor with a prosthetic arm named Talis, 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. With his determination to put an end to this tyranny, Talis must work hard and eliminate whatever threat stands in his way before it’s too late.
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. It’s still a dystopian world, but the lighting and details add a lot more brightness and life to it, despite there not being that much around you other than a completely destroyed Tokio. 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.
In this area of the game, Metal Max Xeno serves its purpose well, but it’s by no means amazing. It does a decent job of creating impactful moments —especially during heated battles— by increasing the tempo and adding in guitar riffs to build tension. When you’re traversing around the world the music is a little plain and is something you’ll most likely ignore as you play. It didn’t really draw our attention all too much not because it was bad, but rather it just didn’t provide enough oomph. The music definitely tries to sound different, incorporating more futuristic melodies to help sync with the environment and theme of the game, which it does well. Just don’t expect to have an amazing OST for the game is all we’re saying.
This is perhaps the main selling point for Metal Max Xeno because it plays unlike any other type of RPG. As we mentioned earlier, Talis and his friends are able to either traverse around the world by foot to gather precious parts to sell for money, or hop in their powerful tanks to take out ferocious enemies that lie ahead. It’s a nice combination because it encourages you to get out of your tank at times, in order to search below ground and come across rare items, or even challenging boss battles. It also encourages you to not only level up your tanks and its parts, but to also level up each character as well via the skill upgrades. As you defeat enemies and unlock bonus challenges throughout the game, you’ll receive Ace Points which can be delegated to specific areas you want to improve. For example, you can use your acquired Ace Points to level up your Weapon IQ or Frost IQ, which essentially buffs any attack with some sort of ice element attached to it.
The further you progress, the more elements you’ll run into in regards to monsters, and so upgrading those elements via Ace Points is critical to your longevity. Elements do play a big role in the game as every monster will attack you with not only normal moves but fire, ice, sound (sonic wave), etc., and so you’ll need to always be prepared to counterattack when necessary. Some enemies will be immune to certain things and so, making sure to balance out your team is encouraged. While the world is quite large and provides you with enough room to roam around in, Metal Max Xeno still has its limitations and as such it doesn’t really feel like an open-world. You’re able to wander around anywhere that’s located on the map but that’s pretty much it, which sort of gives the game a linear feel, in a way which isn’t bad but it would’ve been cool if we had a lot more freedom. Character animations seemed to feel a bit stiff, especially when running around or just wandering around the base, but given what we said earlier about visuals not being the major focal point, we’re not going to be too finicky with this. The battles though aren’t a walk in the park once you get further into the game, as some of these boss battles are real tough and will require you to constantly refine and upgrade your tanks to ensure you don’t die. Making good use of the Iron Base, as well as fighting whatever monsters come your way, is a sure fire way to be successful and survive the long haul! Grab those customization chips and you’ll be anti-airing monsters in no time!
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
Overall, Metal Max Xeno, despite its stiff animations and somewhat linear approach, is actually quite fun since you can level up tanks you defeat and use them against the enemy. Each tank has its own unique characteristics that can be fully maximized, customized and swapped out for battle, which adds a new element of fun to the game. It’s by no means a long RPG when compared to the more plenteous RPGs out there but it serves its purpose as a tank fighter which in a way, had us thinking of a 3D upgraded version of Advance Wars for a while.
Fun and exciting gameplay with tanks!
Customization feature is a nice added touch, giving each tank its own appeal on the battlefield, along with the characters!
Skill tree is easy and you can level up your characters in no time.
Great voice acting.
Animations could use a little more touching up for more fluidity in movement.
Linear when compared to the more recent RPGs on the market.
Honey's Final Verdict:
Metal Max Xeno is a totally fun RPG title that doesn’t shy away from trying new things, and keeping you engaged. 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, so long as you maintain an open mind with regards to its visuals. Be sure to check out out our other reviews and let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
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Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.
A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on twitch.tv/honeysgaming ! Take care!