When Aksys announced that they were releasing Tokyo Xanadu on both Vita and PS4, I knew I had to have the PS4 version with its extra eX+ content. That did mean waiting a few more months to get my hands on it, but you know what they say – good things come to those who wait!
Kou Takisaka is on his way home from his part-time job when he sees his classmate, Asuka Hiiragi, being accosted by two delinquents, and he decides to follow them in case she needs help. He gets more than he bargained for though when a gate to another world, Eclipse, opens up and he finds himself thrust into battle against otherworldly beings. Asuka has been fighting alone for a long time, and so Kou decides to work with her to defeat any threats and to save innocent people who are sucked in through the gates.
It goes without saying that Nihon Falcom are highly regarded JRPG developers, and they have a niche – but dedicated – fanbase who are always eager to eat up their work. I’ve always been a bit iffy with their works in recent years, mostly due to plot pacing and a visual style which fails to differentiate between their many IP, but I’ve found Tokyo Xanadu eX+ to be one of their more enticing works. Whereas Trails of Cold Steel stumbles over itself with its slow progression and awkward gameplay mechanics, Tokyo Xanadu eX+ is simple but engaging, and it provides a hearty challenge where good reaction times can make all the difference.
Tokyo Xanadu eX+ is an action-RPG so if you don’t like turn-based battles then you’re in luck! If you do like them then, well, you can live without them for a game, can’t you? You’ll be mixing close-ranged and melee attacks as you slay your enemies and, whilst there is a dodge, there’s no guard button. It’s fast-paced and enemies hit hard, but you can switch between various characters on the fly. Each character has different strengths, and enemies have different weaknesses, so you’ll learn how to play each character rather than becoming too attached to a single one — bye bye money, as everyone needs equipment!
As many RPGs now have, Tokyo Xanadu eX+ has addictive social mechanics. I love getting to know more about characters, and I’d always make sure to hang out with people before progressing the story. You can’t just hang out with people all willy nilly though – you need fragments to progress your relationship. Tokyo Xanadu eX+ doesn’t feature the same depth, detail and polish that the likes of Persona 5 has, but it’s a solid effort all the same.
A common complaint I have with Nihon Falcom games is that their IP all feature the same art style, and that their games look pretty dated. Tokyo Xanadu eX+ may mostly run smooth and be a pleasure to play, but the same complaints remain. Stiff character models struggle to portray expression in the way that it’s needed, and areas are generally lacking many people — there’s a conversation about how busy it is, but good luck spotting more than 10 or so people in that entire area.
It’s a shame because I really like the character designs and cities, but they deserve far better than Nihon Falcom’s current engine. I understand that this was initially a Vita game though, and the port certainly looks much nicer, so there’s no real fault here. But one day, I hope to see a notable improvement in visuals – same as I do with the Tales games.
There’s no English dub here, sadly, but there’s plenty of fantastically voiced Japanese dialogue. I’m happy to have so much of the dialogue voiced, and the soundtrack is no slouch either. There are some lovely, chill tunes to relax with, and suitably energetic ones for battle.
Nihon Falcom have always emphasised narrative and world-building, but Tokyo Xanadu eX+ proves that they can achieve the same results without taking several hours to get there. It’s a damn good RPG for PS4, and it’s one I’ve enjoyed sinking my teeth into. Quick combat, gorgeous 2D artwork and a brilliant localisation makes Tokyo Xanadu eX+ a joy to play, and it’s the most fun I’ve ever had with a Nihon Falcom game.