I finally, after almost a year, managed to finish Tokyo Xanadu eX+ and this is not going to be a very positive post so I’ll come out ahead of all the gripe that is to follow and say I did like the game, I really do think it’s a pretty decent JRPG.
This game has taken inspirations from an awful lot of sources and while the developer has a lot of experience making JRPGS I think this game was a first for them in many ways, and it shows.
This game tries to be a social management RPG inspired by the likes of Persona but doesn’t manage to capture the time and relationship management aspect of it. Instead of every day being split up into time segments where you chose what to do and who, if anyone, to engage with you instead get an allotment of currency items that you spend in order to trigger friendship scenarios with the available cast members. The game doles those items out so that you can’t engage with everyone but you can ‘max’ out about half the cast, if you largely ignore everyone else.
They’ve opted for creating a 3rd person brawler type combat system instead of going with the standard JRPG fair of ATB or turn based combat which I largely found enjoyable. But again it shows that this is not their usual territory, the controls are just slightly on the wrong side of clunky and you’re given maybe a few too many options.
Your characters have a melee attack, a ranged attack, a charged power melee attack and if you use your ranged attack in the air it will become a flying charge but your only defensive option is a dodge. Each of the character’s have their own variations on all these attacks some are faster some are stronger, some favour ranged over melee and so on. Your team is made up out of 3 characters you pick from the start of the dungeon, you control one at a time and can switch in any of the other two at any time. This gives you 12 different standard attacks to keep in mind.
In addition to all this you’re also given a special powerful attack which is charged up as you fight and a second even more special super attack as well as a third team attack. There is almost nothing in any level that requires or even encourages using these special attacks except the final boss monster. If you save all these attacks up for the final boss you’ll beat it near instantly every time.
The primary issue I’ve had with the game however is that the pacing is kind of off. The game generally runs in a cycle that gives you free time to run around town, talk to everyone, do your shopping, engage in friendship episodes and do all the side story bits and mini games. Then when you want to progress the main story something usually bad happens and a, or a series of, dungeons opens up and you’ll be spending the next hour or so fighting. More story happens and now you’re back in the social sim part of the game.
Some times the combat parts really drag out though and there were a good number of times I didn’t want to get back into the game because I had already exhausted all the social sim stuff for now but I didn’t feel like doing the fighting parts.
Much like this review, the game also just keeps going and really overstays it’s welcome. The original story is probably already 50h if you’re quick, 70 if you’re me and this part of the game already has at least 2 fake out big final boss battles. Then there’s an epilogue added to that which I rather liked. They do something few stories does and try to show life after the heroes prevents the end of the world and try to deal with fitting back into their daily lives. But it also throws in yet another big final boss battle for … spoilery reasons.
Then they made the eX+ version, PC port, which has YET another added afterstory and this one is longer and also has another great combat slog ending in yet another big bad super duper uber epic games evil boss fight. Although the story reasons does manage to not be awfully contrived I was kind of done with this game at 60h mark and now I’ve finally finished it at 101h.
You could of course replay it in NG+, see all the friendship events you missed out on first time around and each character has it’s own ending scene.
Safe to say I wont be bothering with that.
Finally I’d like to say that I did really rather enjoy all the little side stories going on everywhere in this game. There’s a huge number of NPCs in the city to talk to and most of them have things going on. As you keep talking to them day after day you get more information about them and their life. You start seeing the relationships between NPCs and how their stories intersect. None of this is masterfully written or anything, but I always enjoyed getting to run around and see what new developments had happened since last time.
If you made it all the way through this then thanks for reading. If you’re looking for a bit of a weird JRPG then I would actually recommend this game.