A massive earthquake occurred in the middle of Tokyo ten years ago, on March 15, 2005 to be exact. The sky consumed by a scarlet red, there wasn’t a single thing anyone could do to avoid it, as it resulted in 22,000 deaths and over 7000 others reported missing. Little did the residents of Tokyo, and more specifically Morimiya City, realize at the time, but this disaster also was the beginning of something far more sinister and evil, known as the Eclipse. A phenomenon that occurs when another world forces itself upon reality for unknown reasons. And that’s exactly where our adventures begin. Read on for our full Tokyo Xanadu eX+ review!
Title: Tokyo Xanadu eX+
Publisher: Aksys Games
Developer: Nihon Falcom
Available On: PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, PC
Reviewed On: PlayStation 4 Pro
Release Date: December 8, 2017
Game Provided by the Publisher for the Sake of This Review
First things first. Tokyo Xanadu is extremely similar to both Trails of Cold Steel games and Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana. Falcom has clearly established a formula, one that enables them to continuously pump out great roleplaying games at a surprisingly high rate of at least one per year. This is undeniably Falcom’s answer to Persona 4, as a lot of the terminology and events taking place are clearly inspired by what happened in ATLUS’ wildly successful game.
The setting is Morimiya City, a central business district located on the outskirts of Tokyo, Japan. Throughout the game, you’ll get to explore and get to know the residents, most of them with unique names and characteristics, of areas such as Brick Alley, Morimiya Shopping Street, Station Square, Morimiya Academy, the Kokonoe Shrine, Nanahoshi Mall. Your party members consist of a mix between First Year, Second Year, and Third Year (Sophomore, Junior, and Senior.. respectively) students at Morimiya Academy. The main character is Kou Tokisaka, a Second Year that randomly finds himself mixed up in the events of the Eclipse.. but maybe it isn’t so random after all.
One day, Kou unexpectedly finds himself coming to the rescue, or so he thinks, of Asuka Hiiragi, a fellow Second Year and classmate as she is being bullied by a local group of delinquents. It is here that he is introduced to the Eclipse, as he witnesses Asuka step through the void and into a different reality. It’s also here that Kou awakens to the power of being able to see this dimension, and is granted his unique Soul Device by the Child of the Eclipse. What’s a Soul Device, you ask? It’s this game’s take on a weapons system, as each character in your party will utilize something specific that can be further expanded on and customized as the story and chapters progress.
Let’s get back to the cast of characters for a moment. We felt that the party members were extremely interesting, each with a complete story that is able to be fleshed out if players choose to do so through Bonding Events, which veterans of Falcom games and those who have played Persona games will be familiar with. Besides Kou and Asuka, there is also Sora Ikushima, Yuuki Shinomiya, Shio Takahata, Mitsuki Hokuto, Rion Kugayama, Gorou Saeki, Shiori Kurashiki, Ryouta Ibuki, Jun Kohinata, and Towa Kokonoe. And yes, Towa is basically the same version of herself found within the Trails of Cold Steel games. Falcom hints it at enough throughout the dialogue and story as well. Not every character mentioned is playable as a party member, but a good majority of them are by the end of the game.
Now, back to Soul Devices. As you continue to level up and acquire items from within the dungeons, you’ll be able to expand upon and customize your weapons. This is done in a similar fashion to Trails of Cold Steel I and II, utilizing elements to increase specific stats and powering up your individual attacks. Like the Quartz system. I was glad to see this mechanic in the game, as it is one that I felt was extremely fun and rewarding with Cold Steel. You definitely are going to want to pick specific characters to focus on, especially early on, as resources are indeed limited throughout the game. By the final dungeons, you should be able to get close to a complete party fully equipped and upgraded, especially if you grind through the dungeons several times like we did.
Speaking of dungeons, they are more or less labyrinths found within the Eclipse where a bunch of nasty monsters known as Greed live. Taking another page of the ATLUS playbook with the Persona series, the labyrinths felt extremely nostalgic and fun to explore. There are dead ends spread out throughout them to encourage exploration, but no end is truly a dead end, as there usually is a treasure chest waiting in rooms before you need to turn around, or stronger enemies that reward higher experience. We also mentioned grinding out dungeons a little early. This is due to the ranking system found within Tokyo Xanadu. At the end of the dungeon (well, right before each end boss, to be exact), the game will award you with a Rank based on a number of factors, including how fast it took you to make it to that point from the start, how many enemies you defeated, how much damage you took, and how many smashable items you actually destroyed. This ultimately ends up in a ranking of S, A, B, and so on. Without trying too hard and on normal difficulty, I was able to successfully S rank 90% of the dungeons on my first time through, with the remaining 10% being an A rank. You can go back and re-run the labyrinths as often as you want during the individual chapters, and this is actually encouraged as it’ll help you to level up, and get more items to power up your Soul Devices. Plus, you can always shoot for a higher rank!
Chapters are segmented much in the same way that Trails of Cold Steel handled things. You begin each chapter with some dialogue or an event scene, and then your Free Time begins. It’s here that you’re free to wander around Morimiya City and talk to NPC’s, partake in mini-games like Magical Girl Alisa and Skateboarding, and do Side Quests which are picked up through your Xiphone. When you’re ready to progress the story, you either go to work or go to the spot marked with a red exclamation point. Falcom is very good about letting players know when the story is about to progress, as the game will clearly tell you. So if you feel like you have more to do when you see that dialogue box pop up, just decline it and continue exploring to your heart’s content until you’re ready to go.
There was a lot of content already found within the base Tokyo Xanadu game, but the version we are specifically reviewing and talking about is the eX+ version that was later released over in Japan, and the version that was most recently released in the west on PlayStation 4 and PC. The base game included seven main chapters, an intermission chapter, and a final chapter. The eX+ version of the game introduces Side Chapters in between the nine other chapters in the game, each one being anywhere from an hour to two hours in length, which is a considerable amount of content. On top of that, there’s a True Ending which is fairly simple to achieve. Going back and doing this after watching the credits for the first time, and the game will alert you when it’s time, will be basically like playing an additional chapter, as the True Ending has it’s own unique side quests and stuff that can be done, with new labyrinths. Finally, after completing that, the eX+ version also includes an After Story that can be accessed through the Extra Menu on the Main Screen, and this is another ten hour block of content set months after the initial game concludes. It’s seriously awesome how Falcom did this, and my final play time after everything was said and done was 73 hours and 3 minutes, which is perfect in my opinion for a game like this.
Then we have the soundtrack, composed by the wonderful and talented crew, Falcom JDK Sound Team. Not once have they done a bad soundtrack for one of their games, and Tokyo Xanadu eX+ is no different. Featuring a nice blend of rocking tunes, to melodic pieces, to full Japanese Idol productions, this is another killer album from Falcom, and one that will be on repeat on Spotify for me for weeks to come.
All of this praise for the game doesn’t mean we can ignore the shortcomings, even if there’s only one major one to speak of. Aksys Games did a great job localizing the game for western audiences… for the first half of the game. Around the time the intermission chapter begins, things start to fall apart. There are consistent spelling and grammatical errors, with them even leaving a whole word or words out of sentences at times. The game definitely needed a bit more polish in this area, and it could have maybe used until after the new year to ensure that the translation and localization were top notch.
Tokyo Xanadu is clearly the start of a brand new franchise arc for Falcom. The Xanadu series in name has been around for quite some time, but this is the first time we’re seeing something on this level and scale for it. It is honestly my second favorite original roleplaying game released in 2017, second only to Persona 5 earlier this year. The lore found within the game and the premise that they have developed with these different organizations and factions, each with their own unique way to deal with the Eclipse and things surrounding it.. we could easily see something on the scale of The Legend of Heroes with some proper care and management. We know Falcom has their hands busy over in Japan currently with Sen no Kiseki IV, and we’re positive they’re eager to work on Ys IX… but after that.. maybe we’ll end up seeing Tokyo Xanadu 2. We can only hope, right?