Review: Tokyo Xanadu (PSV/PSTV)

Review: Tokyo Xanadu (PSV/PSTV)

Formats:

  • PlayStation 4*
  • PlayStation Vita
  • PC*

* Late 2017 as Tokyo Xanadu eX+

Format/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS TV

Extras:

  • PlayStation TV Compatible Yes
  • Cross-Buy No
  • Cross-Save No
  • Cross-Play No
  • Cross-Chat No
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Title: Tokyo Xanadu
Format: Game Card / PSN (2.26 GB)
Release Date: June 30, 2017
Publisher: Aksys Games
Developer: Nihon Falcom
Original MSRP: $39.99
ESRB Rating: T
PEGI: 12
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Tokyo Xanadu follows the story of high school student Kou Tokisaka and a group of his new friends.

One night, after his part time job, he notices another student heading into a dark underpass.

As two thugs start harassing her, a strange door appears out of nowhere and sucks everyone in. Kou is then introduced to the mysterious dungeons of the Eclipse world.

Gameplay:
As far as what type of game Tokyo Xanadu is, I would say that it’s quite a lot like the Ys series with just a bit of the Shin Megami Tensei: Persona mixed in.

While I’ve played most of the Ys games that have been re-released on PlayStation in recent years, I really wasn’t aware of the Xanadu series.

Since all of the Ys games have a kind of medieval fantasy setting, it was sort of surprising to play a similar game set in a modern day Japanese high school.

While the core battle system is completely action-oriented instead of turn-based, like the Persona series, you go to school and have the social link aspect to the game.

Your main character also has personal attributes that get leveled up as the game progresses that extend his Wisdom, Courage, and Virtue. Enhancing these personal attributes will allow you to have special dialog with different characters among other things. But other than the social links and setting, that’s about the extent of the similarities to the Persona series.

A pretty big theme of the game centers around your mobile device called a Xiphone. The Xiphone has a main app on it called the NiAR that’s like a social networking system as well sort of a PDA. You can access the NiAR to check on quests, results of your dungeon exploration, recipes, the story so far, and more.

The game is divided into two main parts: The story portion, which involves regular school life, and dungeon exploration. Most of the time in the school life sections, you play as Kou, but in certain events, you’ll have access to the rest of the party members that get added over time.

Usually in between battle events, you’ll have free time where you’ll be granted two or more Affinity Shards that allow you to build your relationship with the different characters in your party and at school.

Increasing your affinity with your teammates allows them to unlock enhanced fighting abilities. At the beginning of the game, you’re normally granted two shards, but later you’ll have a chance to gain more during your free time.

While the city setting is fairly well detailed, you can’t really interact with much of the environment. Once in awhile, such as in the school library, there’ll be a shiny spot on the bookshelf that will allow you to read a book to enhance Kou’s Wisdom attribute, but that’s about it.

Every now and then there’ll be a door in the city that will have the dialog indicator on it, but all it usually does is describe the store or have some small blurb about what you’re looking at.

The city has about a dozen or less spots you can go to. Each of these locations have different shops and people to talk to. During the free time, you can also find people that will give you side quests. You can check on the status of these quests on the NiAR menu.

The game also has a fairly simple crafting system for weapon enhancements. Each of your party members has slots in their weapons, similar to the Materia system in Final Fantasy VII.

As you pick up materials in dungeons, you can use them at the various shops to craft stones that you can equip in the weapon slots. Some weapon slots are locked and must be taken to the blacksmith to be unlocked when you have the correct materials. Also, each slot can be upgraded three times to enhance the abilities within the slot.

Tokyo Xanadu also includes a cooking feature. You’ll be able to purchase different recipes in the various shops. You’ll also find ingredients in both dungeons and for purchase in the shops.

Once you have a recipe, you can access your NiAR menu and have the various team members cook the dishes at any time. Different team members will have different luck at making the dishes, and there are four variations for each recipe.

The top two cooking results will give you the exact recipe and an enhanced one. The bottom two are usually a crafting item and totally botched recipe that will either bring you near death or reward you high HP replenishment.

The battle system is similar to the Ys series, but the battle setting is quite different. While many of the Ys games have a sort of isometric view of the play fields and you go from screen to screen, Tokyo Xanadu is more of a third-person dungeon crawler.

The dungeons themselves are not very complicated and they’re not randomized. The first time you enter a dungeon, referred to as the Eclipse in the game, you’ll have to get to the end where you’ll fight a dungeon boss. On subsequent playthroughs, you’ll simply skip the end boss but still fight all the same enemies each time.

Each of your party members, as well as the enemies, have specific elemental properties and weaknesses. When Kou enters the very first Eclipse dungeon, he discovers that he has a Soul Device.

Each Soul Device is a character’s main weapon and they only appear and are only usable in the Eclipse world. Each person’s Soul Device has its own major elemental property, but they will eventually be swappable later in the game.

The elemental properties are Fire, Wind, Steel, Spirit, and Shadow. Each is weak against one specific other element and strong against another. The strength/weaknesses go in a circular fashion and are Fire > Wind > Steel > Spirit > Fire. Shadow is stronger than the other four and is also weak to itself.

When you are about to enter a dungeon, you’ll be presented with a party screen where you can select up to three party members and also equip them. There’s also an option to see what kind of monsters, referred to as Greeds, are in the dungeon and what their weaknesses are.

You’ll want to optimize your party so you can do maximum damage to the monsters you’ll encounter. The first time you enter it won’t show the specific monster, but you will be shown what their elemental weaknesses are.

As you go through and complete the dungeon, you’ll be graded on how effectively you’ve traversed it. This is mainly how fast you completed the dungeon, how much damage you took, how effectively you exploited the elemental weaknesses of the monsters, among other things.

Each of these points have an associated score, and based on several ranges of points, you’ll be graded from F, the lowest, to S, the highest. These grades also give you bonus attributes for your characters.

Along with the various elemental properties, each team member has their own fighting style and special attack. The main controls of the game are a jump, attack, ranged attack, and special attack. Kou has sort of a chained blade that has a wide attack range, while other characters have rapiers, cestuses, battle hammers, etc., each with their own attack style.

Fairly early in the game, your characters unlock a charged special attack that’s triggered by holding down the same button that’s used for your ranged attack. Another pretty cool feature is that each of your characters can fly for short distances and can also double-jump.

It’s a bit tricky to pull off the flying ability since the same button for the ranged attack is used. The game didn’t seem to explain it well, but you need to jump, or double-jump, then quickly press the button and release it.

If you hold down on the button for too long, you’ll end up doing a ranged or charged attack instead of flying and it can be quite frustrating in certain dungeons where you need to fly to complete the stage.

All in all, I found the game to be a nice combination of Ys-style gameplay with a dungeon-crawling RPG. There are quite a few dungeons to explore, with a very minimal amount re-skinned. You’re allowed to replay any dungeon at any time you wish, which is great for grinding or farming special materials to upgrade your characters.

Visuals:
The visuals are fairly good for a PS Vita game. It does seem to look better on the actual Vita than on the PS TV, but I did play most of the game on PS TV.

The environments are fairly detailed with each shop filled with bottles and books, as well as other items, to make it more of a fully developed environment.

The character models are a bit dated looking, which is to be expected, and the monsters are pretty nicely detailed. There are a lot of palette-swapped monsters as you go to higher dungeons, but the bosses are quite unique and cool looking.

There’s also a feature to add costumes to your character using both DLC costumes as well as any you unlock in the game. A nice feature, that I always look for when characters have costumes, is whether or not the characters stay in costume in cutscenes, and yes, Tokyo Xanadu has this. It even goes so far as to updating the character’s icon with whatever item or costume they’re wearing.

For the most part, the game does run fairly well, but it does have some framerate slowdown in high action scenes. I did have the game crash on me once after I suspended it and went back into the scene I was watching. But overall, I didn’t have any other technical problems.

Audio:
The soundtrack is just great, which is pretty much a hallmark for Nihon Falcom games. Although the music is wonderful, the game does play the same music for just a bit too long during the free time and other times. It would have been nice if they could have switched it up a bit or added some more music to keep it from becoming too repetitive.

As far as the use of surround sound goes, I think the game does a good job. It made pretty good use of my back speakers for the music and other sounds.

The voice track is only in Japanese and the dialog is mostly in-engine, so the English dialogue is displayed in speech bubbles instead of subtitles.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is one player only with no online component.

Conclusion:
Tokyo Xanadu is a solid RPG with great combat and a good story. It took me about fifty or sixty hours to get to the last chapter, and that’s with doing all of the side quests and optional cutscenes.

There’s also a bonus chapter at the very end of the game that allows you to have the true ending, and then there’s a New Game Plus option to carry over specific items from your last playthrough – so plenty of content packed into a forty dollar Vita game.

The stock controls are a bit awkward, but it does have fully customizable controls that turned out to be a great addition.

I did notice quite a bit of misspelled dialog and various errors. While they don’t really have a major impact on the game, it does seem quite sloppy and was a minor disappointment. Overall though, I highly recommend the game to new and seasoned action RPG fans alike.

Score:
8.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Vita’s built in screen capture feature.

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