Ryu’s Musings: Tokyo Xanadu eX+ (PC)

boxartLanguage: Japanese (Audio), English (Subs)
Developer: Nihon Falcom
Publisher: Aksys Games
Format: Steam, PS4
Type: JRPG
Demo Box: PC
Synopsis: Tokyo Xanadu eX+; a massive action RPG from the masters of the genre, Nihon Falcom! When high school student Kou Tokisaka encounters the nightmare realm known as the Eclipse, his world is forever changed.

In this definitive version of Tokyo Xanadu, experience the game in 60 FPS along with new scenarios, new playable characters, new modes and more!

This game took me by surprise. While I knew it was coming out I hadn’t considered what type of game it was, as a result it wasn’t on my watch list. When it finally landed I was reluctant to pick it up, but seeing it was a ending of some of my favourite games; I took a gamble. Now lets explore it paid off!

Tokyo Xanadu eX+ is an enhanced version of Tokyo Xanadu which was released initially on the PS Vita back in 2015. This early version of the game was also released in NA in June 2017, so it was actually only out for mere 3 months before it was superseded by the new enhanced version. Though this version is not available on the PS Vita, and is only on the PS4 and PC.

What this means is that the Vita purchases were essentially taken advantage of (IMO) and given a lesser game than what was later released.

This game takes elements from my two favourite games, Persona (P3P and Golden) and Trails of Cold Steel. Which makes for an excellent game, mechanically. What elements does it take? The social and school life of Persona, building social links, working part time, making friends and romance. And the dungeon crawling mechanics of ToCS. Even the loot gathering of the game is ToCS, gems, chests etc etc.

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Let me be clear about this, this is not a bad thing, quite the opposite its a great thing! Since these are some of the best elements of their respective games, and Falcom have done an amazing job of transferring these to a new IP.

Before we go on lets quickly go over the new stuff for the eX+ version of the game. Supposedly they reworked the entire engine making it more stable and increasing performance. And on that aspect I can totally agree with it! I’ve been playing the game on PC and frankly it’s never once gone below 60FPS, even when I’ve been in intense fights with specials and effects flying all over the place. So I can’t praise Falcom enough for that!

Sadly the supposed upgrade to the graphics is almost unnoticeable, and frankly at time it jumps out that this is a upscaled Vita Port, with block cars without moving wheels driving down the road. I for one was greatly disappointed by this, not because the graphics are bad, but rather because at other time the graphics are pretty solid. In truth the only graphics that seem to have been updated are the character models, and they do look good, but it’s contrasted by how bad (at times) the rest of the game looks.

Another aspect that was changed, and the debate is raging over whether it was a good change or not, was the difficulty. When the PS Vita version was released it was really hard, it was equated with being dark souls level of difficulty. Only with the feed back as to why you died so often. So in this enhanced version the base game difficulty (normal) was tweaked to be more easy, and the easy mode was made a cake walk for those only interested in the story.

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Falcom also added a skip mode, so as you can skip the story mode, ideal for those that completed the vita version. However be careful as it does skip over some key points, namely the chances to upgrade your stats in the story mode (think the questions in P4G at school). But it’s still good that it’s there!

We also get entire new side stories at the end of each chapter. These basically flesh out the side characters and give extra story, which is never a bad thing! But it does nicely address the issues of the previous game where the side characters were rather lack lustre and had no substance to them. You also get an after story, which takes place….after the story 😀

While none of these change the core of the story they lend it more substance and make the wold you’re playing in more complete and alive.

Now lets talk story, sadly it’s nothing earth shattering. It is however a good and solid story. It follows Tokisaka Kou, a high school kid who lives on his own, and breaks school rules by having multiple jobs. Things take a turn for the worse and he ends up dragged into the world of Eclipse where he ends up running through dungeons. Initially to save his friends, and ultimately…well cause he’s the hero and it’s expected.

Of course he’s not along, he’s got multiple friends to help him out, along with a harem and the usual tropes you get in these games. While the story isn’t bad it’s not great either. That said I did find the story interesting enough to support my playing the game. Truth be told the only thing I found frustrating was that literally everyone you meet knows of the Eclipse bar you. For something that was supposed to be secret way to many people know about it.

Unlike the Persona games, which let you off the leash after the prologue, letting you do what you like and just reminding you that time is passing by and running out, bringing a sense of urgency and drama to your playthroughs. Tokyo Xanadu doesn’t do that, rather it leaves the leash firmly attached to you and drags you through the story.

While the time element is there, it’s nothing more than simply a clock. The game tells you directly when you’re on free time, when your on dungeon time and when it’s work time. You can’t change what your going to do and you have no control over the pacing of the story, unlike Persona games.

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On the one hand coming from Persona, this can feel restricting and stifling for a while. However as I played the game I found the pacing to be such that it wasn’t an issue. The restricting feeling never really left me, even after completeng the game, but ultimately it wasn’t game breaking. And I think it actually works well enough. Not every game should be open like Persona, as that style of game is harder to write for, and getting the pacing right is hard, something even Persona struggled with.

Now lets talk combat, I can’t sing it’s praises enough. The combat is both simple, but difficult. It very easy to fight initially, as it really is just button mashing. However as the game progresses it starts to become harder as it punishes button mashing. When you add in the specials it becomes a very satisfying event. One that does ultimately reward you becoming good at the game, which is something we don’t really see a lot of these days.

As you go up in the difficulties the spikes in difficulty make it impossible to button mash your way through, and you genuinely have to learn combos and timing.  I can’t praise this enough! Falcom made a good game, into a great game with this combat system.

In truth, the only thing I don’t like about the combat is that it’s single persona only. You go in as  party, but only one member is active at a time. Though, admittedly while I don’t like this personally, I have to admit that the way they incorporate it into the game, with your party members having different elemental affinity makes the combat more interesting. As the mobs you fight will have elemental weaknesses, and if you attack with those elements you get more loot and higher rating.

So after all that you’re probably sat there thinking I’m gonna tell you to go out nd buy the game now right? Wrong! As much as I love this game, and as much as it’s going to be my new Persona game, I honestly can’t recommend it. And thats due to Aksys Games (the publisher) going for price gouging on the game.

Currently the steam version, here in the UK, is £46.49, and also has a further £33.07 in DLC for a staggering £79.56 for the complete pack! The PS4 version is even worse with a base price of £54.99 and £52.97 in DLC…the exact same DLC as the PC version I might add. so buying everything on the PS4 will cost you £107.96.

if that’s not price gouging I don’t know what is! And yes I’ve heard all the arguments about how it’s just ‘fluff’ content, and my answer is SO WHAT. The fact that it’s content, regardless of what it is, doesn’t change. Paying more than £100 for a PS Vita game is frankly disgusting. PS4 is always over priced so I expected it there. But on PC I found this disgusting. The base game should have been around the £30-35 mark, with maybe a max of £15-20 for the DLC.

Bear in mind this is not new game, it’s a game from 2015. Just imaging if they had released Persona 4 Golden or Trails of the Cold Steel for £45, no one would have bought them!

So no, sadly, as much as I want to; I can not recommend this for an instant buy. Thankfully the steam Christmas sale starts in a day or so, if it hit 25% off then I’d say sure pick it up. But even then, I wouldn’t touch the DLC with a 10foot barge poll

Author: Ryu Sheng