Tokyo Xanadu Review

Posted July 5, 2017 by Josh Brant in Video Games

Developer: Falcom

Publisher: Aksys Games

Release Date: June 30, 2017

Platforms: PS Vita (reviewed), PS4 (at a later date)

When we think of great modern JRPG’s one title immediately comes to mind and that is the Persona series, or more namely Persona 5. Something about controlling the life of an everyday student who is suddenly thrust into extraordinary circumstances while also juggling school activities is a gratifying endeavor. Tokyo Xanadu is the most recent JRPG from Nihon Falcom and the comparisons to the Persona series in general are quite appropriate. You will raise attributes in class during the day, and outside of class fight monsters and other demons from a strange dimension. The premise sounds cool, but can it possibly live up to the Persona series?

Strangely Familiar

The story takes place in 2005 and unfortunately a massive earthquake has destroyed much of Tokyo. Fast forward a decade later and now the city has been returned to its previous glory. This is where our protagonist Kou Tokisaka comes in. After going to his classes and working a part-time job, Kou ends up seeing one of his classmates, Asuka Hiirage being pursued by some shady strangers. When Kou attempts to intervene he is suddenly transported to a new dimension, along with Asuka, and he must find a way to get back.

While the premise does not feel unique as other story driven JRPG’s, it’s presented in a way for you to actually care about the characters and their interactions in and out of class. Kou is your typical independent main protagonist, while Hiiragi is a mysterious/brave companion and Ikushima is the tomboy of the group. Tokyo Xanadu does in excellent job of always having main characters stay engaged and, much like high school, communicate through cell phones (or as the game refers to as “Xiphones”), even when walking to certain destinations on the main map. Also, the voice-over work is fantastic, even if you unfortunately can’t use English VO.

Gifted Teenagers

Tokyo Xanadu is broken down into two gameplay experiences: fighting in dungeons, called Eclipses, and roaming the world/regional map. Right off the bat you can fast travel to any location, and this is extremely helpful as objective markers point you in the right direction. When you are roaming there are a variety of NPC’s to communicate with, stores to buy/sell from, get involved in mini-quests and, most importantly, build the bonds of your comrades. Much like another JRPG which is surprisingly similar to Tokyo Xanadu, Trails of Cold Steel, it is important to balance your time with certain characters, as you won’t have the time to spend for improving bonds with everyone.

It’s important to always explore these areas as some stores only sell rare materials or having certain blacksmithing capabilities only at specific times. The optional quests in the game may sound mundane, but can lead to optional dungeons which can grant affinity shards. These shards are important to earn if you want to learn more about your companions and the world in general. One appreciated addition is being prompted that the story will continue if you go through a certain area, and then you are given the option of not going on. This saved me numerous times from accidentally continuing the story and missing out on other quests.

The other gameplay experience is, of course, the combat and fortunately for us is where Tokyo Xanadu truly shines. The battle system, while complex enough to appeal to micromanagers, is also easy to navigate without giving much thought. All characters have ranged and melee attacks and you can also switch between party members on the fly, which is very useful when juggling between different elemental weaknesses for enemies. You are forced to think fast mixing in ranged and melee skills while dodging attacks occasionally. Speaking of dodging, my main complaint with the combat sections in particular is how easy it is to dodge enemy attacks. Most attacks are slow enough to gauge how and when you should dodge. If you want more of a challenge it is advised to skip right to Hard mode as Normal may be too easy for some.

Class Is Back In Session

There is no doubt Tokyo Xanadu takes inspiration from many JRPG’s before it, like stated before, mainly the Persona and Trails of Cold Steel series’. While this isn’t a bad thing, it can become a little tedious, especially when many of the character models and visuals are so similar to the other game series’. Luckily, everything runs smoothly and is a great looking game on the PS Vita screen, though maybe a bit outdated in the aesthetics.

Overall, Tokyo Xanadu manages to accomplish what it set out to do, delivering a compelling high school drama with a great combat system and RPG mechanics/exploration. More variety in quest structure and interesting areas to explore would have been ideal, but the action is smooth and the enemy variety, from small beasts to hulking bosses, make the setting interesting. While it is a logical conclusion to wonder if you should pick up the impending PS4 expanded edition, this is still a worthy JRPG to support the PS Vita with.

About the Author

Josh Brant

I love God, my family, friends, sports, and the greatest hobby of all: video games! You can reach me on twitter @minusthebrant.