May the Tank be with you.
‘Oh look.’ You joke to yourself pulling upon your basic pop culture knowledge. ‘Tom made a Star Wars reference and just changed it enough to avoid copyright.’ Well that is where you are wrong. This is a line from about 15 minutes into the game because this game is about tanks, deserts and everything Mad Max ever established as the post-apocalypse.
Metal Max Xeno does not really hide its homage to Mad Max. This is not a bad thing. With the changes in game style and adding a solid RPG and anime twist. Pace jumps about a bit but overall the experience manages to be quick where needed and slow when more detail is required if not oversimplified.
The story is a pretty simple anime setup. You play a character, named whatever you wish (although the base name is Talis.) Humanity has royally screwed the planet, turning it into a desert with very few survivors left. You are one of the few survivors who escapes their town as it is destroyed by a mysterious machine, killing their mother in the process. In the process of escaping you manage to find a tank which in this world is the most effective thing at defeating monsters and vow to become a monster hunter and destroy the machine which killed your mother.
For this epic quest you play across the two main modes of the game: Travelling around and fighting turn-based style. Neither of these are really special but both of these work well with a few caveats. The travelling is done in a tank or on foot. Both work although you move a little slowly for being in a killing machine. The world itself is a good size, with plenty of items to find and traversal is sensible. Plus you can leave the tank running in any direction on its own to grab a snack or check your messages.
The fighting is fairly simple also. You have basic attacks and skills to use to vanquish your foes. Again, the system as a whole is fairly simple. Special skills can over time damage you which sensibly works to make you space them out and use them sparingly. One of the real strong points is how quick the overall system is. In travelling tank form you can pre-emptively shoot foes for extra damage, attacks have flashy actions but are quick overall, and the transition from overworld to battle to overworld is pretty instantaneous.
This makes a relatively simple game, which could be boring, fast enough to be interesting. Some of the larger travelling can take its toll. But overall the pace can be kept very quick. This covers most of the flaws of this game, although there are a few which manage to break through this facade. The graphics work well, with a Prince of Persia style blend of cell-shaded characters and realistic world graphics. But the edges are a bit rough and textures sometimes don’t blend as well as they could. The animation follows suit, it all feels a bit janky around the edges, like the base is solid but the QA department fell asleep during crunch time.
The sum is a fun but rough RPG, far more akin to classic RPGs than other games. It’s quick pace means you could easily blast a couple of hours out with Netflix on, and I haven’t had a good game to do that with in quite a while. Think of this like an older house: The foundations are rock solid, just the paint is rough and the kitchen needs remodelling.
Plus there is a tank in the garage.