Friday, July 7, 2017

Tokyo Xanadu (PS Vita) Review

A few days before I started playing Tokyo Xanadu, I finally cracked open my copy of Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel.  Why is this relevant?  Well, they are both made by the same company (Nihon Falcom), and had a few similarities, which I found kind of funny.

You play as Kou, a high school student who accidentally stumbles upon the hidden world of Eclipses.  These are doorways to another dimension brought about by strong emotions.  He quickly meets Asuka, a person who goes around fighting monsters to close the Eclipses, and decides to try and help her out.  As such, the game goes through a period of several months as new doors open, and Kou and his friends use their new powers to make sure the Eclipses get shut down.

Combat is very action-driven.  You have a normal attack, a jump, a projectile attack, and a dodge.  You can also hold down the projectile button for a powerful charge attack.  Both that and the projectile take SP, which fills over time, or from normal attacks.  Attacking is fun, but the SP can feel limiting when you are attacking enemies that are resistant to your physical attacks and need to be hit by your projectiles.  Plus, the dodge doesn't seem very good.  It's not an animation skip, so you can't cover for attack vulnerabilities, and it theoretically has invincibility frames.  I don't think I've ever hit them.  Considering how easy it is to get hit (there are a lot of cheap attacks), I would have liked a block, too, or at least a slightly better dodge.

A second meter you have in battle is for your X-Drive.  Using this will temporarily make all your attacks strike the enemy's elemental weakness, and give you infinite SP.  There's also a bonus effect depending on the element of your partner.  If that weren't enough, there is a third meter to fill, this time for your X-Strike.  These are basically super moves, which of course I save for boss fights.  they aren't quite as strong as I'd like, but they are useful.

Each Eclipse is a different dungeon.  They don't usually take that long to navigate, which is good because you are ranked on their completion.  Speed isn't the most important factor, though.  They also rate you on how many things you smash, enemies killed, and if you took advantage of an enemy's elemental weakness.  Sadly, it isn't always possible to get 100% for that, since you can only have three people with you at a time.  Switching to your partner is pretty easy, but switching to the "support" (third character) feels cumbersome.  You can always return to any completed Eclipse to grind or increase your rank.

Each character has an orbment soul device that represents their weapon.  There are several slots where you can equip crystals.  These crystals can give stat points, or even passive abilities like a percent chance to inflict a status ailment.  There are also spots that give extra combo damage and a couple of other effects once unlocked.  Monster parts randomly gained from loot drops are used to open and upgrade these slots.  There is also standard equipment, too.  Characters can equip an outfit (armor) and shoes, along with two accessories.

When you are not in a dungeon, you will run around and talk to people, advance the story, and maybe do some side quests.  Like Trails of Cold Steel, many of the people you talk to are tracked in your phone, and there are several pieces of information to learn about them as the story progresses.  You can also get side quests from an app.  Unfortunately, some are not shown in this way.  As a completionist, this bugs me.

The more important characters also have character episodes, where you can hang out with them, or help them out, and become closer friends.  As the game goes on, more people are added, and there are only a limited number of times you can spend with people per chapter.  If there is a free Eclipse, you will get an extra shard, but it's still nowhere near enough to spend time with everybody.  You are also at the mercy of who is available, so it's hard to focus on one or two special people.  I will give the game big props for being very clear about when the story is going to proceed, so it's hard to do so before you are ready.

My only real gripe with the game is that the localization feels a bit rushed, as there were several instances of typos.  The most glaring one was the shards used for the character episodes.  They are referred to as both affinity and infinity shards.  One time it's even called a Friendship shard.  Affinity makes more sense, but at the very least there shouldn't be two different names for the same thing.  Well, unless the character has a real name, but is always referred to as "mid-boss".

Tokyo Xanadu is a really fun action RPG that I enjoyed playing.  The difficulty felt about right (although it was a little too easy to get hit), and the length was good.  It is likely overshadowed by the enhanced version coming to PS4 later this year, but the Vita version is worth playing.

The Good:
I don't know if I could point to anything specific, but the game was just really fun.

The Bad:
Hidden side quests, and of course the typos.

The SaHD:
Wow, character models don't wear shoes in some indoor areas...nice touch!

(Review code for Tokyo Xanadu was provided by the publisher)

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