North American box art
|Developer(s)||Square Product Development Division 3|
Xenogears (ゼノギアス Zenogiasu?) is a science-fiction role-playing video game developed and published by Squaresoft (now Square Enix) for Sony's PlayStation. It was released on February 11, 1998 in Japan and on October 20, 1998 in North America. The game was never released in PAL territories. It was re-released by Squaresoft as a Greatest Hits title in 2003, and on the PlayStation Network on June 25, 2008 in Japan and on February 22, 2011 in North America.
Xenogears follows protagonist Fei Fong Wong and several others as they journey to uncover the truth behind mysterious, cabalistic entities operating in their world. The principles and philosophies of Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung influence the plot, character design, and world of Xenogears. Additionally, the symbols, theological concepts, and devotional practices of several world religions are represented in fictionalized forms in the game. Major psychological themes are the nature of identity and human memory, particularly as these relate to the phenomenon of dissociative identity disorder. The relationship between humanity and machines is central to the game's plot, as indicated by the presence of giant robots dubbed "gears," which almost each playable character can control.
Overall, Xenogears was well received by critics, with a 91% rating on Game Rankings and a score of 83 out of 100 at Metacritic. Critics in particular praised the storyline with multiple subplots, the gameplay, the characters, the themes (such as Jungian psychology and Roman Catholicism), and the epic nature. It was voted the 16th best video game of all time by readers of Famitsu in 2006. Xenogears has shipped 1.19 million copies worldwide as of March 31, 2003.
Xenogears combines traditional role-playing video game structures such as Square's signature Active Time Battle system with new features particular to the game's martial-arts combat style. It features two slightly different battle systems: in the first the user controls human characters in turn-based combat manipulated through the sequencing of learned combos. The second, making use of "gears," introduces different sets of statistics and abilities for each character. Xenogears features both traditional anime and pre-rendered CGI movie clips by Production I.G to illustrate important plot points.
The player advances the protagonist and his companions through a fully three-dimensional fictional world. There is an overworld map with visitable cities, geographical sites, and other important locations spread out across several continents. A couple of locations encountered throughout the game exist not on the original world map, but in the sky. At first, the party only travels on foot, but is eventually permitted to make use of a variety of vehicles, including their gears and the "sand submarine" Yggdrasil.
Battle in Xenogears is a variant of the Active Time Battle system found in games such as Chrono Trigger and the Final Fantasy series. Most enemy encounters in Xenogears are random. When a battle begins, there is a transition to a separate screen with a combat interface. Player-characters use a combination of martial arts moves, "Ether" (magical) attacks, and special "Deathblow" combinations which are learned through the repetition of specific proportions of strong, moderate, and weak hits. All offensive actions use Action Points (AP), costing either three points, two points, or one point, corresponding to the intensity of the attack. Each character can initially use only three AP per turn, but at higher levels, they can eventually use up to seven AP per turn. At a certain point in the game, characters can begin using "Elemental Deathblows," which, as the name implies, attach elemental attributes to physical combos. In addition to being used for attacks, AP may be saved and allocated to Attack Points for combo attacks during later turns. A total of 28 AP may be accumulated for combo attacks.
Characters can also use a variety of magical abilities for both offense and ally-support. These abilities are limited by the number of Ether Points (EP) that are available to a character, which must be replenished using items during exploration (non-combat) sequences. For most characters, these abilities are attributed to "Ether," a mysterious power to which (presumably) all humans have access. Some characters' magical abilities are referred to by different names, implying differences in their origins. For example, Fei's magic is called "Chi" and Citan's is called "Arcane". While fighting in gears, human Ether abilities are amplified, though some change or become unavailable during this type of combat.
In addition to small-scale, hand-to-hand combat, the characters sometimes fight from within their respective giant robots, called gears. In gear combat, the limiting factor of AP is replaced by fuel, with each attack consuming an amount corresponding to its power. For these battles, "deathblows" may only be executed after first building up the "Attack Level"—an abstract concept represented by a number in the bottom-left of the gear combat interface—through the execution of simple strong, moderate, or weak attacks. One deathblow is allowed per point on the Attack Level gauge. There are three levels for normal gear deathblows and, beyond the third level, an "infinite" level with its own set of deathblows. To reach Infinity Mode, a character has to stay at attack level 3 while performing any other action. With each turn, there is a chance that Infinity Mode will be reached. Having a duration of three turns, "Infinity Mode" allows fuel to be recharged in much larger quantities and, while in this mode, gears have access to "Infinity" attacks. This mode is actually referred to as "Hyper Mode" in-game through a little-known text read-out found in one of the bonus dungeons at the end of the game.
Gears can regain fuel with a "Charge" command. The gears can also activate "Boosters" which enable them to act faster at a cost of extra fuel per turn. The "Special Option" command allows for gear HP restoration abilities and special, fuel-consuming attacks. When a gear has no fuel left, it can no longer execute attacks, use special options, or use boosters. They can, however, Charge to regain fuel and use Ether abilities. Gear fuel, parts, and upgrades may be purchased in shops or from certain individual vendors.
Xenogears initially takes place on Ignas, the largest continent of the Xenogears world, and the site of a centuries-long war between the nations of Aveh and Kislev. A church-like organization known as the Ethos has excavated gears, ostensibly for the preservation of the world's culture. Although Kislev originally had the upper hand in the war, a mysterious army known as Gebler appeared and began to provide assistance to Aveh. With Gebler's help, the Aveh military not only recovered its losses, but began making its way into Kislev's territory. As the story unfolds, the setting broadens to encompass the entire world and the two floating countries, Shevat and Solaris. Solaris, ruled by Emperor Cain and the Gazel Ministry, commands the Gebler army and the Ethos and secretly uses both to dominate the land-dwellers. Shevat has been the only country to evade the control of Solaris.
Much of Xenogears plot and backstory is detailed in the Japanese-only book Xenogears Perfect Works. This book, produced by the now defunct DigiCube, details the history of the Xenogears universe from the discovery of the Zohar to the start of the game. According to the Perfect Works schematic (as well as the game's end credits), Xenogears is the fifth episode in a series of six.
Xenogears' nine playable characters hail from different areas of the game's world. The game begins on Ignas, a continent with two countries, Aveh and Kislev. Fei and Citan at first appear to be from this land, although it is later learned that they originate from the capital cities Aphel Aura and Etrenank of the floating countries of Shevat and Solaris, respectively. Fei is the story's protagonist, and has initially lost his memories of his past. Citan is a man whose knowledge of the world and technology often aids in the party's quest. Bart, a desert pirate, is also from Ignas and is the rightful heir to the throne of Aveh. Rico, a demi-human with incredible strength, lives in a Kislev prison, spending his days as a gear-battling champion. Solaris, a hidden city of advanced technology, is home to several characters in the game. Billy, a pious worker for the Ethos religious group, was originally from Solaris. Elly, a beautiful Gebler officer of Solaris, is destined to be near Fei and falls in love with him by the end of the game. Maria and Chu-Chu are both from Shevat, the floating city and the only place resisting Solaris' domination. Emeralda is a humanoid being constructed by an ancient civilization from a colony of nanomachines, and was retrieved from the ruins of the ancient civilization Zeboim. Significant non-playable characters include Krelian and Miang, both leaders of Solaris who seek to revive Deus, a mechanical weapon that fell to earth thousands of years ago. They serve as the game's main antagonists. Grahf, a mysterious man with immense power, serves as a major antagonist ; he follows Fei and his group and often fights them, though his goals remain a mystery until very late in the game. Fei, Elly, and Miang have been reincarnated several times throughout the game's history.
Xenogears centers around the protagonist Fei Fong Wong, a young man in the village of Lahan. Fei was brought by a mysterious "masked man" three years ago, gravely wounded, and adopted by the village chief, Chief Lee. The events surrounding Fei's wounding before his arrival at the village cause him to have retrograde amnesia. At the start of the game, Fei and his friends in Lahan are preparing for a wedding. Fei goes up a mountain to meet Citan, the village doctor and Fei's close friend since his arrival at Lahan. When Fei comes back there is a battle raging between Gebler (a mysterious military organization assisting the country of Aveh) and Kislev (a country at war with Aveh and Gebler) forces. During the battle taking place in Lahan, Fei pilots an empty gear named Weltall in an attempt to defend the village against both groups of gears. Witnessing the death of his friend Timothy during this battle causes a dormant personality within him to awaken, under whose influence Fei then destroys the entire village. Fei later awakens with no recollection of what happened and is told that he had lost consciousness and that the gear had gone berserk. As a result, Fei and Citan decide to leave Lahan with the abandoned gear to get it away from the surviving villagers, who blame Fei for the incident. After leaving Lahan, Fei meets Elly, a marooned Gebler officer, and Grahf, a cryptic and maniacal masked man who claims to know about Fei's past. Eventually, Fei and Citan find themselves captured by Aveh forces in the open desert of Aveh. Bartholomew (or Bart), a desert pirate, sees the gear Weltall on the Aveh transport ship and decides to attack the ship in order to steal the gear. Bart succeeds, and then instigates a fight with a reluctant Fei, who he believes is part of the Aveh military. Fei and Bart fall into a subterranean cavern where they meet Old Man Balthasar. Balthasar tells them how to escape the cave and offers to repair their gears, but returns and wants them gone, saying that Weltall is the "host for the spirit of the slayer of God." Fei and Bart leave and resurface near the capital of Aveh. Fei goes to Bart's base to find out Bart is not only a desert pirate but also the exiled heir to the throne of Aveh. Fei and Citan hear of Bart's plight and decide to assist his group in rescuing Marguerite (or Margie), Bart's cousin and the Holy Mother of the Nisan religious sect. Margie was captured and held in Bledavik, the capitol of Aveh. Fei enters a fighting tournament to cause a distraction while Bart uses an underground waterway to sneak into the castle in Bledavik to find Margie. During the tournament, Fei meets a mysterious fighter named Wiseman, who seems to know Fei in some way. Bart encounters Kahran Ramsus, the commander of the Gebler forces and his subordinate, a mysterious woman named Miang, while leaving with Margie. Ramsus explains that they are attempting to use Margie to pry the location of the Fatima Jasper, a treasure said to be the key to great power. Ramsus engages Bart in combat, and Bart manages to hold out against Ramsus. Citan, Fei, and Bart escape with Margie. The group takes Margie back to Nisan and use the town as a base of operations. While in the Nisan cathedral, Fei sees a portrait of Sophia, a Holy Mother of Nisan from over five hundred years ago, and feels a strange familiarity towards the portrait. Bart and his crew come up with a strategy to overtake Bledavik. The group splits up, and Fei leads a diversionary force in the North. Fei once again meets Elly, who attacks Fei due to her being influenced by a drug which Gebler forces its soldiers to use. Fei proceeds to his objective and attacks an Aveh fleet led by Vanderkaum. While fighting Vanderkaum, Grahf appears and gives Vanderkaum powers to use against Fei. Subsequently, Fei again loses control of himself inside his gear, annihilating Vanderkaum, while elsewhere Bart and Citan are attacked by an unknown and extremely powerful red gear, and the Yggdrasil, Bart's ship, sinks.
Fei regains consciousness in the prison district in Nortune, the capitol of Kislev. Rico, a mutant humanoid and the champion of the Nortune prison gear battling organization, forces Fei to fight other prisoners hand-to-hand as part of a "baptismal ceremony" to determine the level of his power. Citan comes to Nortune to assist Fei under the guise of a doctor. Fei realizes that the only way for him to escape the Nortune prison is to participate in the battling championships and become the champion so he will be granted a pardon and allowed to leave. Fei meets Hammer, a mutant man who assists him in his attempt to escape. Rico comes to Fei looking for help in finding the cause of the murders of his subordinates in the prison block sewers. Fei assists him because other people believe Fei is responsible. Fei, Citan, and Rico find a monster in the sewers, which was presumably responsible, and destroy it. Fei once again encounters Wiseman, who reveals that he learned martial arts with Fei's father and that they both were from the floating nation of Shevat. Fei is able to beat Rico in the battling arena and is allowed access to other areas of Nortune. The Kaiser of Kislev, Sigmund, wishes to meet Fei. While they are in the Kaiser's palace, a dispossessed Rico breaks in with unclear motives. Rico is condemned to death. Fei feels obligated to save Rico, and he and Citan break into the gear hangar to recover Weltall, proceeding to help Rico. Fei and friends then proceed to steal an airship from the Kislev military base. Citan flies the airship, but the airship is intentionally shot down by Bartholomew ( He did not know who was in the airship). Fei and Elly are separated from the rest of the party .
Fei and Elly are rescued by the Thames, a huge ship the size of a city. After learning Elly's whereabouts, Gebler attacks Thames to kidnap Elly. Miang, a Gebler officer and Ramsus' right-hand woman, successfully brainwashes Elly. Elly is then released back on the Themes where she goes and disables Bartholomew's engines in his submarine. Ramsus, who holds a vendetta against Fei, attacks Thames, searching for him. Afterward, Billy, an Ethos worker on board Thames, allows the party to use the Ethos' advanced medical technology in the mainland of Ethos to better treat a comatose Fei. Bishop Stone, Ethos' leader, reveals to the party Ethos's true purpose of controlling the land dwellers, or "Lambs", for Solaris. The group follows Stone to Zeboim, an excavation site. They discover a young girl composed of nanomachines, which is what Krelian, a Solarian leader, seeks. Stone takes the girl while the group fights Id, the mysterious red gear's pilot, who wants the girl, but is stopped by Wiseman. The group returns and finds Fei awake and standing at his gear with a case of retrograde amnesia. Fei and his friends decide to ally themselves with the floating city of Shevat, the only remaining city capable of resisting Solaris. When entering Solaris, they encounter Emeralda, the nanomachine colony. She attacks at first, but recognizes Fei, referring to him as "Kim", much to Fei's confusion. In Solaris, Fei learns that Citan has been working for Emperor Cain and that Solaris has been producing food and medicine out of recycled humans in the Soylent System facility. The party also learns that the Gazel Ministry seeks to revive Deus and achieve eternal life, while Krelian seeks to possess Elly. Back at Shevat, Citan informs his friends that Id is actually Fei's split personality.
The Gazel Ministry uses the Gaetia Key, an artifact that manipulates the DNA of massive amounts of humans around the world, turning them into mutants called Wels in order to collect flesh to reconstruct a god called Deus that crash-landed on the planet ten thousand years ago. During this time, Elly and Fei become romantically involved with each other. They learn that they are the reincarnations of Sophia and Lacan. Lacan was a painter while Sophia was the Holy Mother of Nisan around the time of the war between Shevat and Solaris five-hundred years earlier. Lacan blamed himself for Sophia's death during the war and, with the help of Miang, became Grahf and sought to destroy the world. Although defeated, he and Miang have transmigrated their minds into other humans since. Krelian and Miang dispose of the Emperor and the Gazel Ministry because they are no longer necessary and kidnap Elly, the Mother, who must be sacrificed in order to revive Deus. Miang is killed by an enraged Ramsus as he realizes he has been used, and Elly turns into Miang, becoming absorbed by Deus. Fei, as Id, attempts to make contact with the Zohar. Wiseman, who reveals himself to be Fei's father, stops him, giving peace to Fei's other personalities. Fei's gear transforms into a more powerful form named Xenogears, and Grahf appears, revealing that he had been inside the body of Fei's father. At this time, Fei makes contact with the Wave Existence—an extra-dimensional being who is trapped inside Deus and is the source of power for all gears—and learns that he must destroy Deus to free humanity. Grahf, who tries to merge with Fei, is defeated.
Fei discovers that he is a descendant of Abel, a young boy who was a passenger on board the Eldridge, a spaceship that was being used to transport Deus, the core of an interplanetary invasion system created by a federation of space-faring humans, one that was deemed far too dangerous for use and was therefore dismantled and moved. Deus, however, had become self-aware and took over the Eldridge. Amidst the confusion, Abel was separated from his mother and accidentally made contact with the Wave Existence through the Zohar, Deus' power source. It gave him the power to one day destroy Deus and the Zohar in order to free itself. The Wave Existence also sensed Abel's longing for his mother and used the biological computer Kadomony to create a woman for a companion. When Deus gained full control over the Eldridge, the captain decided to initiate the self-destruct sequence in an attempt to destroy it. Both Deus and the Zohar survived the explosion and landed on a nearby planet along with Abel, under the protection of the Wave Existence. He was the sole survivor, but was soon united with the woman that the Wave Existence had created for him as a companion, Elly. Abel and Elly, at first, led a happy life, but Deus had also created Miang, Cain, and the Gazel Ministry to begin a human civilization on the planet, one which would be under their control to one day be turned into Wels and be absorbed into Deus to recover its strength. When the now-adult Abel and Elly discovered this, they openly challenged Cain and the Gazel Ministry, but lost. However, through the power of the Wave Existence, they are able to be reincarnated in later eras to combat Deus. One of these incarnations lived during an ancient technologically advanced era in Zeboim, where Abel's incarnation went by the name Kim and created Emeralda.
Fei sets out to destroy Deus and free the Wave Existence and Elly. In Merkaba, the party defeats Deus, but they realize that the energy released from the Wave Existence's shift will destroy the planet. Elly, inside Deus, tries to move it away from the planet and Fei, in his Xenogears, follows to save her, but both disappear in the rift. Krelian confronts them, telling Fei he only sought to end the pain and suffering that comes with human existence by reverting everything back to when it all began, when all was one, to ascend to the realm of God. Fei rejects Krelian's ideology with his love for Elly, but Krelian challenges Fei, telling him to prove this love that could make him independent of God, and calls forth Urobolus, a gigantic serpent-like incarnation of Miang. Xenogears appears and Fei uses it to defeat Urobolus. Krelian releases Elly and reveals to Fei that he had planned to become one with God along with Elly. During her time with Krelian, Elly had seen inside his heart and realized it was full of sadness and despair for all the atrocities he had committed. Despite everything, Elly says that Krelian truly loved people more than anyone else. Because no one will forgive his sins, he declines Fei's offer to return and ascends to a higher plane of existence along with the Wave Existence, telling Fei and Elly that he envies them because they can find love and purpose from each other instead of a higher being. Fei and Elly then return to their planet along with Xenogears and reunite with the rest of the party.
One of the most notable features of Xenogears is its large amount of plotlines; there are fourteen in total. While some praised this aspect, others criticised it for making the plot too complex or introducing irrelevant information to the narrative.
The subplots of Xenogears are:
- The creation of Deus and its attempts to fix itself.
- The rebellion against Solaris carried out by previous incarnations of Elly and Fei.
- Krelian's search for God and alliance with Miang.
- Solaris's control over the surface and use of the Soylent System.
- Ethos, specifically their relation to Billy and Jessiah.
- Ramsus's creation and position as the artificial -Contact-.
- Grahf's attempts to make Id into the dormant personality of Fei.
- Elly and Fei's constant reincarnation by the Wave Existence.
- Citan's birth and secret plot against Solaris with Emperor Cain.
- Bart's expulsion from Aveh, and temporary separation from his brother Sigurd.
- The mind of Maria's father being placed into a Gear, with her mother becoming another Gear in order to save her.
- Rico being disowned by his father, the Kaiser of Kislev, and made a prisoner.
- Hammer's feelings of inadequacy and subsequent betrayal of the party.
- The destruction of Zeboim, which led to Emeralda being cryogenically frozen.
Xenogears was produced by Hiromichi Tanaka, who previously worked on the SNES game Secret of Mana. The scenario of the game was written by director Tetsuya Takahashi and by Kaori Tanaka. Yasuyuki Honne served as art director, while Kunihiko Tanaka was responsible for the character designs. Tetsuo Mizuno, Tomoyuki Takechi, and Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi were executive producers for Xenogears. Koichi Mashimo, an animation director and his studio Bee Train, was in charge of the anime cut scenes. Xenogears started out as an early concept conceived by Tetsuya Takahashi and Kaori Tanaka for the Square game Final Fantasy VII. Their superior in the company deemed it "too dark and complicated for a fantasy", but Takahashi was allowed to develop it as a separate project. It is the fifth part of a six-part story detailed in Xenogears Perfect Works; at the end of the game's credits, "Episode V" appears on screen. The story of Xenogears is influenced by the ideas of Freud, Jung, and Nietzsche, and they are referenced numerous times within the game's narrative.
Due to a comination of the second disc contentbeing almost entirely composed of single boss battles surrounded by character narration and a large number of unused assets and fragments can be found included in the code on the second disc, there has long been speculation the game was rushed at the end of production. If this happened or why has never been confirmed by anyone involved in the game's While the game is considered 'finished', signs of this rushed development are found throughout both discs, and several story threads were left incomplete. 
Square had announced that Xenogears may not have come out in the United States due to "sensitive religious issues". However, Square soon after reversed this and, with a joint partnership with Electronic Arts, released the game in October 1998. The English translation of Xenogears was the first instance in which an English localization team worked directly with Square developers. It also was the first major project of Square translator Richard Honeywood. According to Honeywood, translating the game was a particularly difficult task due to it containing numerous scientific concepts and philosophies.
The music in Xenogears was composed by Yasunori Mitsuda, composer of the SNES title Chrono Trigger. The Xenogears Original Soundtrack was released on two discs and published by DigiCube in Japan. The score contains 41 instrumental tracks, in addition to a choral track and two songs. According to Mitsuda, the music of Xenogears belongs to the traditional music genre. Though he first described it as stemming from "a world of [his] own imagining" rather than any specific country, he has also claimed a strong Irish or Celtic music influence. There are two vocal tracks included on the OST, and both are sung by Joanne Hogg. One of the tracks, "Stars of Tears", did not appear in the final version of the game. It was originally intended to play in a cut scene at the start of the game along with the main staff credits. The scene, however, was removed for pacing issues, as it would have made the combined opening movie and introduction scenes last roughly ten minutes. The other, "Small Two of Pieces ~Screeching Shards~", was the first ending theme with sung lyrics to ever appear in a game developed by Square.
An arranged soundtrack of Xenogears also composed and arranged by Mitsuda was released as Creid. For Creid, he expanded on the theme from the original album of having Celtic influences in "easy-to-listen-to" pop tracks to create an album of arranged Xenogears music with a more prominent Celtic style. The album contains a mixture of vocal and instrumental tracks, and combines Japanese and Celtic music together in its pieces. The album features five vocal tracks and five instrumental tracks. The main lyricist, Junko Kudo, wrote the lyrics to four of the five vocal tracks, while Mitsuda wrote the lyrics to the titular track "Creid", which were then translated from Japanese to Gaelic for the recording. Celtic singer Joanne Hogg did not reprise her role in Creid. Instead, Tetsuko Honma sang the four tracks written by Kudo, while Eimear Quinn sang "Creid".
In October 2010, Mitsuda announced that he planned to work on Myth: The Xenogears Orchestral Album, a second arranged album of music from the game, in an orchestral style. He took suggestions from fans as to which tracks to include.
There have been several Japanese books and comics published concerning the Xenogears franchise. Xenogears God Slaying Story, a series by Masatoshi Kusakabe, was published by Shueisha in 1998. DigiCube published both Xenogears Perfect Works and a memorial album named Thousands of Daggers, which contains the entire script to the game in Japanese, along with screenshots. Two manga books, Xenogears Comic Anthology and Xenogears 4koma Comic, were released by Movic. Movic also released wallscrolls, notebooks, pins, keychains, stickers, and postcards depicting the Xenogears cast.
Xenogears was a commercial success in both Japan and North America. As of March 31, 2003, the game had shipped 1.19 million copies worldwide, with 910,000 of those copies being shipped in Japan and 280,000 abroad. As a result of these sales, it was re-released as a Greatest Hits title in December 2003. In Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu, Xenogears was voted the 16th best video game of all time by its readers in a poll held in 2006. On a similar poll at GameFAQs, users of the website voted Xenogears the 32nd "Best Game Ever" in 2005. It was placed in the same position in IGN's "Top 100 Games - Readers Choice" feature in 2006, and as number 28 in 2008.
Xenogears was met with critical acclaim. Allgame pointed out in a positive light that the character battles are "unlike most role-playing games from this company". GameSpot wrote that the story becomes "a little preachy at times", but went on to say that the religious and existential themes "enhance the story and [our] understanding of the game's deep characterizations". Edge commented that although it is "considered by some to be a multimillion-yen, convoluted science-fiction vanity project, Xenogears nevertheless remains one of the most keenly eulogized PlayStation RPGs." The magazine also noted that it was Takahashi's "most challenging and pure work" and that the Xenosaga series never quite matched up to Xenogears.
The game was criticized for having too many cut scenes, especially on the second disc, where the use of the world map is restricted for an extended period and the amount of cut scenes increases. IGN, however, stated that despite all the cut scenes and the confusing plot, "immersion is a key factor in Xenogears and the questions you may have about the storyline are all answered at some point in the game." Edge criticized its "flawed" script and "muddied" translation. Years after the game's release, Electronic Gaming Monthly called the game's plot "one of the wackiest game plotlines ever", saying that it "actually makes sense" if the player ignores all of the sideplots. However, Game Informer and Next Generation Magazine agreed that the plot was one of the game's highlights, the former making the claim that it draws from Star Wars, Star Blazers, the Old Testament, and many other Square games, making it "a game every RPG fanatic must play."
Reviewers largely praised Xenogears' gameplay. Next Generation praised Square's Active Time Battle gauge and said that inclusion of the AP meter and combo attacks "is not only refreshing in a turn-based RPG, but gives players a higher level of interaction during battle." IGN claimed that "the most impressive feature in combat is the ability to use massive "Gears" or mechs", noting that Square's attention to programming these battles is made evident by how "visually satisfying" they are. IGN praised the game's exploration, saying that the ability to jump and climb "adds even more depth to exploration of different environments and distances Xenogears from being too straightforward of a traditional RPG", the only complaint being that the rotating camera is sometimes "clumsy".
However, the game's audio received a more mixed reception. GameSpot noted that many of the games' tracks "include voice or chanting and all are appropriately uppity or low with the game's mood", but complained that there were too many areas with silence or ambience. Xenogears was the first Square game to feature voice overs and anime cut scenes. These aspects were criticized by reviewers, like Game Revolution, who stated that they were poorly synched and too sparse, respectively.
Shortly after Xenogears was released, there was speculation of a sequel being released, although this never occurred. While Xenogears has never had an official sequel or prequel, there was wide speculation that Namco and Monolith Soft's Xenosaga was a prequel when it was first announced. Tetsuya Takahashi was the director and writer for both Xenogears and Xenosaga and has noted that "with our relation between Square, I think it is difficult for us to say it is a direct sequel or prequel". Approximately twenty members of the Xenosaga development staff had previously worked on Xenogears.
On the connection between Xenogears and Xenosaga, Takahashi has stated:
It's probably more suitable to say that it follows the direction and style of Xenogears. [...] Now that we are under a different company, we figured we should start everything from scratch all over again. Though there are familiar faces that serve as important characters in Xenosaga, others are more like self-parodies, so we don't really want Xenogears fans to overreact. Like movies, sometimes you have the director of the movie or friend of the leading actor appearing as cameos, so it's similar to that.
Several members of the Xenogears staff came together in 2008 to work on Sands of Destruction, a role-playing game for the Nintendo DS, published by Sega. These staff members include Masato Kato, Kunihiko Tanaka, and Yasunori Mitsuda.
A patch made by fans was released in 2008. It aims to improve the quality of localization including Japanese voice replacement, but there is no change on the script.
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- Krelian: A nanomachine... a molecular machine... Until recently, we were only able to produce... materials which were several times the size of this. Thanks to that girl, the one we obtained from the ruins of the Zeboim civilization, we are now able to make it this compact and elaborate. Square Enix (2008-08-17). Xenogears. PlayStation. Square Enix.
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- Citan:And Fei... it may be a good idea for you to leave this place. There is no guarantee that reinforcements from yesterday's units are not going to come.Square Company, Ltd. (1998-08-21). Xenogears. PlayStation. Square Electronic Arts.
- Citan: The Yggdrasil was badly damaged and sank...I jumped in an escape-pod. Square Company, Ltd. (1998-08-21). Xenogears. PlayStation. Square Electronic Arts.
- Bart:Rah hah hah!! That's the power of the Bart Missiles!! Even Kislev's prototype can't stand up to it!! ...Uh, hey... S-stay back... Keep away!Square Company, Ltd. (1998-08-21). Xenogears. PlayStation. Square Electronic Arts.
- Ramsus: Right. I've got him! I have been looking for you! My arch rival! Square Company, Ltd. (1998-08-21). Xenogears. PlayStation. Square Electronic Arts.
- Stone: You believed that you were saving wandering souls weren't you? That's why you carried out your cleansing of the 'Reapers', -Wels- from the earth, right? In fact it was all just another control system put in place by Solaris. But what's more, your 'saving' work... that very activity you believed in so much, was in reality...Square Company, Ltd. (1998-08-21). Xenogears. PlayStation. Square Electronic Arts.
- Id: To you, it is just a used-up toy. So give it back. It belongs to me... Square Company, Ltd. (1998-08-21). Xenogears. PlayStation. Square Electronic Arts.
- Fei: I don't know what I'm doing here myself... I don't have a clear head yet. Square Company, Ltd. (1998-08-21). Xenogears. PlayStation. Square Electronic Arts.
- Rattan: With that, excuse me. I must report the results. Oh yes, go ahead and take the girl. Use her anyway you like. After all, she is your daughter... Square Company, Ltd. (1998-08-21). Xenogears. PlayStation. Square Electronic Arts.
- Citan: Soylent System. The organism experiment lab and its disposal facility in Solaris. And the production facility for food and medicine to maintain the Limiter seal. Square Company, Ltd. (1998-08-21). Xenogears. PlayStation. Square Electronic Arts.
- Citan: Yes, if it were only Id and Fei. But that does not seem to be the case. Id only manifests when Fei's mental energy is in a weakened state. It is a mystery in itself that the lower level personality of Fei...has any control over the upper level personality of Id. It is obvious that there exists a third personality. Id calls this existence the coward. In my observation, this coward may be the fundamental personality of Fei. Square Company, Ltd. (1998-08-21). Xenogears. PlayStation. Square Electronic Arts.
- Elly as Miang: Yes, but there is more... The core that was detached from Zohar, the 'Biological Computer Kadomony' crashed onto this primitive planet. It activated -Persona-, its lifesupport plant, that can generate organic material. Square Company, Ltd. (1998-08-21). Xenogears. PlayStation. Square Electronic Arts.
- Elly: I also learned that I really do need you... It's not because I need you as a sanctuary for my problems. I need you because I truly love you. Square Company, Ltd. (1998-08-21). Xenogears. PlayStation. Square Electronic Arts.
- Grahf: I hear you Fei... You see, He and I are one. I am Khan, Khan is me. He has become one with me, so you too should open your heart and unite with me. Then we can go on to eliminate everything! Square Company, Ltd. (1998-08-21). Xenogears. PlayStation. Square Electronic Arts.
- Wave Existence: As a contact, being but only a child, you defined my existence with your desire to return to your mother. Thus I came to prepare the mother's will... that will is Elhaym.Square Company, Ltd. (1998-08-21). Xenogears. PlayStation. Square Electronic Arts.
- Citan: It is like a shock wave that is induced by the dimensional displacement. But... so much energy!? If this much energy is unleashed here now...Square Company, Ltd. (1998-08-21). Xenogears. PlayStation. Square Electronic Arts.
- Elly: Yes. I came to understand after becoming one with Krelian... His heart was so full of sadness. That is why he desired for he and I to become one with god... Because that would be the return to the beginning of everything... He told me... "You should be with him..." That is what he said... You see... He already knew! Yes, he already knew... how I felt, how you felt... But there was nothing we or he could do... He had no choice but to go forward... even if it meant he lost all feelings, lost everything that was human! For all humankind's sake... There was no going back... Even looking back held too many memories... And he would have... just wanted to go back... Even though he couldn't... So please forgive him... Krelian loved people more than anyone else...Square Company, Ltd. (1998-08-21). Xenogears. PlayStation. Square Electronic Arts.
- Krelian: Since that time, I have stopped being human. I have committed so many sins that any attempt at living as a human is impossible. The only one who could have forgiven me is god. Square Company, Ltd. (1998-08-21). Xenogears. PlayStation. Square Electronic Arts.
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