Tokyo Xanadu eX+ (PlayStation 4) Review

By Eric Ace 07.12.2017 1

Review for Tokyo Xanadu eX+ on PlayStation 4

For modern JRPG players in the West, developer Falcom came mostly from nowhere, but delivered some major hits, mostly with the Trails series, which blew gamers away. Unlike the others, Tokyo Xanadu eX+ takes place in an alternate modern timeline of 2015 after a major earthquake in Japan. Borrowing heavily from Persona-like games, the flow alternates between high school and dungeon crawls, while students try to figure out where demons are coming from.

Playing Tokyo Xanadu eX+ is an odd experience. On one hand, it hits many of the right JRPG notes, but more often than not, the largest feeling is "Get on with it already." Not to say the game is bad - it actually is pretty good on many points - but the absolute drag of pacing is most similar to another recent JRPG, The Caligula Effect, which likewise would have been infinitely better served at a faster pace.

In a recent trend of many JRPGs, Tokyo Xanadu eX+ follows a typical high school slice of life, followed by a small dungeon crawl, then rinse and repeat. The game starts off with the main guy Kou, who sees a cute classmate get chased by some thugs. Not far down the road, a demon portal opens up and everyone is sucked in.

Screenshot for Tokyo Xanadu eX+ on PlayStation 4

As far as beginnings go, it's okay, but there won't be any fighting for quite a while, which starts to point towards the pacing problem. This opening sets up the idea cool enough of a hidden world beyond our perception, with only a few people (including the cute girl) that can perceive it. As soon as it starts, though, we are back in the real world and subject to an unnaturally long grind before combat is ever experienced.

Tokyo Xanadu eX+ is part social game, and for better or worse, it takes a very long time. In between dungeons, Kou will walk around the huge school, work part-time jobs, visit entertainment districts, and so on, with a huge cast of characters to talk to. The side characters are typical Falcom in that there is a surprising characterization in all the NPCs. Doing minor tasks and talking to them advances their stories, and many of them are legitimately interesting.

Screenshot for Tokyo Xanadu eX+ on PlayStation 4

For the main characters, arguably the story for them is a weak point. The narratives are much more meandering, which serve to detract. The story never reaches some sort of dazzling height to justify an otherwise lengthy exposition of getting there. Kou is your typical "too cool for this" guy - neither a great hit, nor someone you come to hate. The main girl, Asuka, flirts dangerously close to Mary Sue land, but is competent for a female lead, which is a nice change of pace, as many JRPG female leads tend to be insufferable. A lot of archetypes are here - the childhood friend, the tomboy, the smart guy. It is a little strange the NPCs have good characterization, but the mains fall a little flat. This is sad, as many of them look cool without being crazy.

Between the fairly boring school sections are the dungeon parts. Combat, to be brief, is great fun. Tokyo Xanadu eX+ an action RPG where button mashing isn't the best option. Each enemy has different stats, and depending on which character you are controlling will deal bonus damage. Combat is fast and fluid, and while simple, it is fairly fun. There is the standard combo, an aerial combo, and lastly a ranged move. These never change, but depending on the character, each is different. It is not that complex, but the enemies fall fast, and most of it revolves around simply moving forward quickly rather than long fights with a single creature.

Screenshot for Tokyo Xanadu eX+ on PlayStation 4

A major missed opportunity is not having multiple characters attacking at once (or bigger dungeons). There are a lot of characters that join, and they all fight differently, but it is very odd that only one person fights at a time. This mixed with the tight quarters lends itself to burnout faster. It would have been much more fun and epic if the entire crew was fighting creatures, and given how simple battle is, would have gone a long way to improving the overall package.

In the end, Tokyo Xanadu eX+ has enough good points that it ticks off the necessary JRPG boxes, but it will not blow anyone away. There are simply too many flaws that get in the way of preventing a thoroughly enjoyable experience. With the bar set at an average level, the game will deliver, but it is not going to be setting any records beyond that.

Screenshot for Tokyo Xanadu eX+ on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

There are legitimate moments of fun and almost a harkening back to major JRPG classics in Tokyo Xanadu eX+, but all too often the pacing detracts from being truly great. The battle system is excellent, with a single but significant flaw of fighting with only one character, despite the large crew acquired. The entire game would be better served immensely by being about half its length, as nothing truly gets kicking before it burns out on itself.

Developer

Nihon Falcom

Publisher

Aksys

Genre

Real Time RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

The Drunkard Kid (guest) 20.10.2020#1

A few points:

A) Sora's not a tomboy, she's a former tomboy, with Kou not originally recognizing her because she was so boyish when they were little and so feminine now.  While she is depicted as being a savant at stuff like martial arts and skateboarding, the former is not considered necessarily masculine in Japanese culture (what with her being the heir to her family's traditional martial arts school and a member of the women's Karate Club at their school, even discounting the fact that the very girly Towa is also an extremely skilled practitioner of Kou's family's own martial arts style who is depicted as being able to manhandle Kou himself under normal circumstances) and the latter was something she possibly just found out if you had the right bonding event with her and was done as a way of hanging out with her beloved big brother figure.

B) The battle system is basically a 3D version of Ys Origin's, with character swapping replacing the weapon swapping of that system.  It should also be noted that the dungeons encourage (but doesn't mandate) speed running, maintaining high combos, killing all enemies, breaking all objects, exploiting enemy weaknesses, and finding all treasures in order to get a higher rank, which in turn is used to boost Kou's social stats, which in turn gets you bonus items from his grandpa and goes towards getting the best ending in the game.  The corridor design of the battle is to help exploring the dungeon without breaking your combo since it makes it easy to bounce from enemy to breakable object and back again as you try and explore the various branches without losing the bonuses that a high combo gives you, and you wouldn't want multiple characters out at once because getting the best rank involves making sure that you use the right character/element to kill each enemy and even leaving some enemies alive so that you have something to keep the combo-meter up on your return trip after exploring a side-branch. 

C) Additionally, while the basic moveset stays the same, I would note that as the game goes on, not only do you get the ability to swap the basic elemental affinity of all your characters, you also find enemy drops and NPCs that you can use expand your party's Soul Devices, giving them either new permanent passive abilities (like being able to auto-revive the player charcter if they are in the support slot), permanent boosts to your main abilities (like making Asuka's ranged attack have more beams), or opening up orbal slots which you can equip with a variety of Elements which can give you a wide variety of passive abilities (like having your attacks have a chance of doing status effects, making that character run faster, increase the range that enemy loot gets picked up from, etc...  So theoretically, Asuka can go from a Spirit/Ice elemental who fires two beams as her ranged attack to a Shadow elemental who fires around 10 beams as her ranged attack that does 30% bonus damage, and all her attacks have an increased chance of making the enemy drop gems and a set chance of setting the target on fire, and she is absorbing 3% of all damage she causes as HP. 

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