Review: Tokyo Xanadu (PlayStation Vita)
- Release Date (NA): June 30, 2017
- Release Date (JP): September 30, 2015
- Publisher: Aksys Games
- Developer: Nihon Falcom
- Genres: Action RPG
- ESRB Rating: Teen
- Also For: Computer, PlayStation 4
Single playerLocal MultiplayerOnline MultiplayerCo-operative
A Peculiar Neighborhood
Leaving his shift late one night, high schooler Kou notices some delinquents stalking Asuka Hiiragi, a classmate of his, who eventually gets ambushed by the former assailants. Being the gentleman that he is, Kou decides to go to her aid when, out of nowhere, a creepy-ass portal of sorts appears, engulfing the thugs (not T-Hug), Asuka and Kou, who passes out during the event.
As Kou gets back to his senses, he notices that he is in a totally different place. Is he dreaming? Or is he in the afterlife? He passed out on the rail tracks after all… Not wasting any more time over such trivialities, Kou decides to look for Asuka and try to find a way out of here.
In so doing, Kou discovers some disturbing facts about the place he’s in and… about Asuka herself! It turns out that she’s not much of a damsel in distress than she is a badass, sword-wielding demon slayer in this parallel plane. But of course this side of Asuka Hiiragi is meant to be a secret and so she promises to bring Kou back to his “normal life” and the latter wakes up after an agitated night on his bed, not recalling anything after leaving work the previous night…
As the story progresses, you’ll learn more about Kou and his friends, get dragged time and again into the “Eclipse” portal to that mysterious and lethal shadow world and come face to face to otherworldly creatures called “Greeds”. What’s going on?! Play on to find out…
A Not-So-Peculiar Vibe
The game has a very shōnen anime vibe to it, complete with weapon-wielding teens, a parallel plane inhabited by demons, your typical set of cute, cool, dorky and serious characters, who deal with typical teen issues, among other things. Persona, anyone?
Be warned that cutscenes can be long but being a fan of the Metal Gear series, this did not bother me much. What did bother me though was the time that the game takes to actually get into the gist of things. Tokyo Xanadu plays in chapters that each take about one hour to complete, and while these short bursts of play are fit for playing on the go, it takes the game 5 whole chapters to assemble all of the demon-slaying teens and unlock the whole map and finally stop getting tutorial prompts. And the formula is a rather repetitive one: someone gets sucked into the Eclipse and that person or one closely related to him/her happens to be a “wielder”, one who can see the Eclipse and use weapons to battle Greeds, and will eventually join the party. The slow progression and repetitive sequences could have easily been condensed into 2-3 chapters to improve the pacing and deliver a more captivating experience.
Additionally, for something that is supposed to be a secret, a large number of the inhabitants of Morimiya City (the fictional city where the game is set) are well aware of the Eclipse and its happenings and you’ll encounter them casually here and there. The premise is very promising but it has been clunkily executed.
Oh, and in Tokyo Xanadu, your phone, a Xiphone mind you, is your gateway to everything RPG-related via its numerous there's-an-app-for-that apps. Other than being used for trivial things like text, make calls, reading out voicemails, browse social media, save/load and keep tabs on fellow students (you creep), it can tune and upgrade your frickin’ weapons, show you locations of Eclipses, power up your abilities, customize your equipments and even cook (?!). I want that phone.
While these over the top features are often poked fun at in-game, some could have been polished to make for a smoother experience.
Where’s it at?
The gameplay is where it’s at;Tokyo Xanadu has a feature-rich one. Awkward jumps aside, the game features standard RPG customization of characters and their weapons and a dynamic combat system. Once sucked into the Eclipse and landing in a dungeon, you can take Greeds head-on, magic spell them from a distance or fricking fly at them for multiple hits. You’ll want to execute your attacks depending on which type is most effective against your opponent. Some Greeds are resistant to magic but vulnerable to physical attacks and vice versa.
Additionally, the elemental mechanic implemented means that some Greeds are more vulnerable to certain element attack and each party member has a specific element assigned to him/her. A helpful feature is that before entering a dungeon, you’ll get to view the elements of the Greeds within so that you can set up your party accordingly.
Battles are definitely the most fun part of the game; switching between characters, trying different attacks, teaming up for deadly combos; aiming to be the most effective version of your party every time.
That being said, the dungeons aren’t without issues. Most of them have a linear layout, require minimal exploration to find treasure chests and switches to unlock doors and aren’t much striking nor challenging, save for the later ones. They are also strinkingly short but you can come back to cleared dungeons if you crave for more action. The Greeds themselves barely vary except in their elemental weaknesses. So much for diversity. Nevertheless each dungeon boss has been uniquely designed and require different attack approaches to best them. Phew, at least!
When not battling, you’re in your “free time” during which you can wander anywhere around the map, talk to NPCs, complete “friendship episodes”, shop or even try skate boarding. Additional dungeons and previously cleared dungeons also open up later on so that you can get more swag. There’s a lot to do in this 50 hour+ game but some of the side quests were not compelling enough for me to bother completing.
I’ll have to note that the default button setup felt rather unintuitive to me, but thankfully these can easily be customized.
A Game of Magnificence and Beauty?
Tokyo Xanadu owes its name to the metropolis where the fictional Morimiya City is located and Xanadu, “ an idealised place of great or idyllic magnificence and beauty”. Surely, it’s a massive game, taking anywhere above 50 hours to complete, with lots to see and do but it’s not as majestic as the prophesied place.
+ Feature-rich gameplay
+ Fun combat sequences
+ Lots to do in your 'free time'
+ Chapters approach fit for short bursts of play on the go
- Slow initial progression
- Lacking enemy variety
- Short and unimpressive dungeons
While the graphics aren’t mind-blowing, they do the job for a PS Vita title. However, the story itself takes its sweet time to progress, and despite being promising it is clunkily executed. Dungeons don't offer much to write home about either.
The gameplay is Tokyo Xanadu’s forte and battling has been the most engrossing part of the game.
There’s lots to do in the game, main quest aside. You’ll easily sink a good chunk of your time should you want to.
out of 10
(not an average)
Tokyo Xanadu is a good fit for the PS Vita with its ease to play in short bursts. There’s also lots to do in this game aside from the main quest. It will undoubtedly be enjoyable to fans of action RPGs.