Review: Tokyo Xanadu eX + (PS4)
Tokyo Xanadu EX + is a much expanded jRPG port from PS Vity from Nihon Falcom, released in the West six months ago. This production, dealing with the topic of urban legends, combines elements of such series as Person, The Legend of Heroes and Ys, finally allowing even more fun on the big screen.
To begin with, I would like to commend Nihon Falcom, that by moving the game to PlayStation 4 They did not limit themselves only to increasing the resolution of the existing graphic design, but also expanded and improved a significant part of the gameplay elements. In fact, technically, one could safely say Tokyo Xanadu EX + for reboot, but if the developers talk about the port, let them be. Since the core of the fun has remained the same, I will use excerpts from the PS Vita version, supplementing them where necessary.
The action of the script takes place in modern times, and more precisely in 2015. We move to one of the fictional suburbs of the Japanese capital, formerly a separate city of Morimiya City. As often happens in this type of productions, the main character is a high school student who lives alone, here named Kou Tokisaka. Fortunately, this time it is not an exaggerated character, but a slightly gruff, but quite ordinary teenager who leads a normal social life, making money in the evenings with a modest pocket money. One day, returning from work, he sees his classmate Asuka Hiiragi walking through a mysterious gate into an alternate world full of demons. This phenomenon, called Eclipse, is visible only to the chosen few, and Hiiragi belongs to the Nemesis organization that investigates the mysteries of these dark dimensions. When Kou’s friends fall victim to Eclipse, he too, wielding a magical weapon, has to fight alongside the girl.
Compared to the version from Vita, the plot has been extended by the so-called side stories closing the holes in the script and explaining some understatements or simply discovering previously unknown secrets of our favorite characters. In addition, we received new playable characters, including the mysterious hooded person of White Shroud, as if taken alive from the series Assassin’s Creed. They extend the story made after anime episodes significantly and make it more coherent and interesting, and it has also been given an additional chapter. Still, despite a significant improvement, compared to other items Falcom the whole story is not very original. It’s just good artisanal work, full of borrowings from the Persona series and related titles. On the one hand, this is of course an advantage, but on the other hand, you can still feel the plot as if you don’t have your own identity – again, a group of high school students save the world from evil forces. Fortunately, the main characters and side characters can be liked, drawing us into quite an interesting and pleasant adventure, during which we will look into every nook and cranny of the “city”.
Visually, the game runs on the same engine as the PC version The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steelso we have Full HD resolution and 60 frames. It’s hard to hide that although the graphics look much better than on the small screen, it is still the level of the previous generation consoles, but surprisingly it has its charm. Morimiya offers a variety of richly detailed locations with equally well-designed 3D character models. Each of Morimiya’s districts has its own atmosphere, depicting Tokyo in miniature, from the representative shopping district to the relics of Western urbanism from the 1920s with quiet cafes and antique shops. There are also places with traditional wooden buildings. Of course, there is also a school building with a layout known from other titles on a similar theme. It is a bit worse visited dungeons, which are often monotonous and empty, but I understand graphic designers who focused on the smoothness of fights rather than visual sensations. The monster slash itself may not be spectacular, but the animations of special attacks and other abilities make up for it. Yes, I admit that although the tooth of time is clearly visible on the large console, the graphics are still defending and attracting the eye.
When it comes to the sound, it’s hard to fault anything here, apart from (again) lack of originality. All the melodies bring to mind series such as Person whether Legend of Heroes, but it’s hard to hear something characteristic only for Tokyo Xanadu. Even so, all the sounds are of high quality and are catchy, although JDK has created better pieces of music in their career. We hear the voices of the characters frequently and they are left in the Japanese original, but I still have some objections to the English translation. The provided patch corrected most of the bugs from the portable release, but unfortunately not all of them, but ultimately these are irrelevant details.
The game consists of two different parts. The first is the exploration of the school and the city, during which we establish and improve relations with numerous friends, we perform as in Cold Steel commissioned main and side missions, the number of which has been increased in the EX + version, and in the meantime we are getting ready for the upcoming battle. Then we also discover the most plot intricacies as well as the secrets and concerns of our friends. The second part is arcade fighting in the dungeons of the world known as “Underworld”. They are somewhat reminiscent of the struggles of the last installments Ys seriesso we run left and right, washing creatures from h**l. There is no big philosophy here – one button is for the normal attack, the other for the special attack. In addition, our characters can, after punching the appropriate stripes, use murderous combos or combined attacks. The PS4 version adds one more special attack, significantly increasing our combat capabilities. We were also blessed with new instances, monsters and bosses.
You need to know that the main character takes two people to fight (one of them acts as a support), between whom he quickly switches when needed. Anyway, the game forces such changes, because the opponents are always sensitive to one of the elements that use the weapons of our characters, so frequent changes of soldiers are more than recommended. The clashes are quick and make a lot of fun, but compared to the Vit edition, their difficulty level has increased so much that even on the normal level you can eat your teeth during fights with bosses, which can be a bit irritating. As for the development of the heroes, in addition to the usual advancement through experience points, a modified ARCUS system from LoHs has been implemented, i.e. we press special gems and other rubbish found in dungeons to the mobile phone to increase our statistics. Moreover, Kou, a model Persons 3, has three virtues developed thanks to his decisions during free time, for which we receive awards, and also has his own room added in this version, which we can freely furnish, which brings measurable benefits.
Tokyo Xanadu EX + on PlayStation 4Despite many changes for the better, this title is still intended mainly for fans of Falcom’s productions due to the multitude of references to their previous productions. However, unlike the PS Vita version, other jRPG fans will also find something for themselves, because the game has everything we love so much in this genre, in a pretty good execution and without unnecessary combinations.
The code for review was provided by the game publisher – Aksys Games.