Back when the Tokyo Xanadu released on Vita last summer, our reviewer wasn't very impressed. His main complaints with the game centered around the story's slow pacing, unlikable characters, and a simplistic combat system. Tokyo Xanadu eX+ is more or less the same game at its core but ported to PS4 with a large number of additions and enhancements. Namely, the game features much more story content, including a new "After Story" chapter that fleshes out the story's ending, and new side stories following (almost) every chapter's conclusion. Combat has also been slightly overhauled with the addition of new EX Skills - special attacks that almost fill the screen without pausing the action - and the inclusion of a "perfect dodge" function that will slightly fill the player's X-Drive gauge. Alongside a visual upgrade to 1080p/60fps it's good stuff, but Tokyo Xanadu is still fundamentally the same game as it was on Vita, and it's hard for me to shake the feeling that it won't do much to convince anyone that isn't already a Falcom fan to pick it up.
Unlike Ys VIII, another Falcom PS4/Vita release, Tokyo Xanadu eX+'s history as a Vita title is much more obvious. Dungeons are small corridors even on the PS4 and don't have much in the way of branching paths. Even with the PS4 exclusive dungeons, you can't help but feel cramped. Combat might be a little more technical with the introduction of the new mechanics, but if anything you'll be spending less time in boss fights as the new abilities allow you to steamroll bosses even more efficiently than in the Vita original. There is a new difficulty mode exclusive to the PS4 release, but it's hard to recommend to most players and it doesn't necessarily make the combat any more interesting, rather it makes the enemies more of a pain to fight.
With the exception of the Side Stories and the After Story, Tokyo Xanadu's narrative remains unchanged. I actually enjoyed some of the character development seen in the Side Story chapters themselves, but none of the main stories were actually re-written to take this development into account. As it stands, while an attempt was certainly made to make characters more likable, it feels like the narrative is fighting itself when its own development contradicts itself along the way. While I don't feel that any of these characters specifically are bad (with one exception), I can see why our original reviewer thought they were bland, as almost all of them feel like they have been done before. This is especially obvious if you've played some of Falcom's other titles. One character, in particular, is literally lifted straight from Falcom's own Trails series, with no explanation. There is potential for most of these characters, and I trust that with time - and the inevitable sequel - Falcom will be able to give them the time that they need to develop, but as it stands the cast doesn't do much to stand out from other, better jRPG casts from 2017.
Speaking of "having been done before", this just might be Tokyo Xanadu eX+'s biggest fault, though it's really only something that longtime Falcom fans will key in on. You see, both the original Tokyo Xanadu as well as eX+ are chock full of references to Falcom's other games and media. Ys, Zwei, other Xanadu titles, Vantage Master, Trails - you name it. Some of them are minor references, while others are larger. Towa is basically one giant reference in of herself, but the bigger picture I'm trying to get at here is how much Tokyo Xanadu - and especially eX+'s - plot feel like downright retreads of Falcom's previous games. Specifically, Trails in the Sky: the 3rd kept popping into my head near the end.
Now, I'm fully aware that this really doesn't mean anything if you're new to Falcom games. Hell, in a vacuum, the story is perfectly fine... but I can't lie and say that it didn't rub me the wrong way. I enjoyed Tokyo Xanadu eX+, the gameplay itself was fine, the music is good, the graphics were serviceable for a Vita port. However, I can't help but feel a bit used. As if my own love of other Falcom games was bait to make me enjoy Tokyo Xanadu more. I really can't say if my impressions of the game would be closer to our original Vita review if I didn't already have that knowledge and experience of other games in Falcom's repertoire. Which is to say, I really can't outright recommend the game to anyone other than Falcom fans. It's not bad, but there isn't anything remarkable about it that would justify me recommending it over other great JRPGs on PlayStation 4 and PC.
While by no means a bad game, Tokyo Xanadu eX+ certainly isn't a remarkable one. Falcom fans might find some things to like here, but there's little to court anyone else.
- Great Soundtrack
- Enjoyable Battle System
- Derivative Story
- Boring Dungeons