They say that imitation is the purest form of flattery, and if that is the case Nihon Falcom has a love affair with the Persona series, specifically Persona 3. I was quite surprised when I began playing this game with just how many similarities hung in the air between Tokyo Xanadu EX+ and Persona 3. Nihon Falcom is mostly known for its fast-paced Ys and Legend of Heroes series on the PSP, Vita, and PS4 which surprised me that they’d take a slower tone in Xanadu. I welcome more Persona type games in my life, I’m a huge fan of 3 and 4, I’m yet to unwrap my copy of 5 and may have to wait to do so until I’ve exhausted myself on Xanadu.
The story isn’t too complex, you play as Kou and one night after work you see one your classmates in a spot of bother. You decide to follow and play hero but only find that there is a whole other world that exists around you. Instead of saving Asuka, you get pulled into the Eclipse and she ends up saving you from the Greed, inhabitants of the Eclipse. She also wipes your memory of the event and returns you to your home, you wake up the next day and rush to your lessons. When you get to your homeroom you find that your cousin is your teacher and that Asuka is watching over you in homeroom. Seeing her makes you remember some of your encounters, but it isn’t until after school that you are brought to the Eclipse knowingly. Here you learn that you can wield a Soul Device much to Asuka’s surprise. And so your story as a Greed destroyer begins, but don’t forget you still have to go to school, work and participate in some club activities.
The combat is quite simple in this game and can get a bit boring at times due to the simplicity. What I do like about the combat is that it isn’t turn-based, it is all real-time action. Basic attack is X and for most of the dungeons, that’s what you destroy the Greed with, as you level up and gain access to new powers you use other face buttons for a much bigger wallop to your attack for some boss Greeds. You can jump with Circle and attack while in midair, however, the most important button that they gave us is R2 which is dodge. This will save your life many times when fighting bosses with lots of little minions to destroy. Triangle helps too when you are running around a dungeon with friends, you can switch characters on the fly as the enemies change weaknesses. Each Soul Device has a special attribute that makes different enemies more susceptible to damage, keep an eye on that while in battle, you can save yourself some healing potions if you know who to battle against who.
When you aren’t battling in dungeons you have your teenage life to worry about. You have to go to school and in school, you can raise three attributes that will help you on your journey. Wisdom, Courage and Virtue are what will help you grow both as a Greed fighter and as a human being in general. You gain wisdom by reading books in the library and answering questions correctly in the classroom. Courage increases the better you do in dungeons, each dungeon is ranked and the higher the rank the quicker your Courage will increase. Virtue is increased by doing side-quests in you NiAR, which is basically your smartphone. Some of these side-quests are integral to the story, others are just to get your virtue up. Once you “level-up” one of the attributes you can go see your Grandfather at Kokonoe Shrine to receive your reward.
The game looks and sounds great, the voice-over is Japanese and you get to read the story in cutscenes and in a few overlays. I like the character designs of the protagonists, but the Greed’s designs seem kind of phoned in to me. They just looked like amped up demons to me, no real pizazz that I enjoyed. The dungeons also get pretty boring as you navigate them, but the constantly battling doesn’t really give you much time to enjoy the sites. The Falcom Sound Team took a lot of inspiration for the music in this game from Persona 4, so much so that I had to google who composed both soundtracks. I have the Persona 4 soundtrack on my media device and I listen to it quite frequently. The stark similarities really threw me for a loop when I heard the menu soundtrack, it sounded almost note-for-note the same as Persona 4. This isn’t a bad thing, both soundtracks are great; it just weirded me out a little bit.
This game is actually pretty great, I’m sure the developers hate me saying that it is a Persona clone, but it is and it is a great one. Team Persona probably enjoys this game in-between making Persona 5 and remaking Catherine. I really enjoyed this game, anyone who loves the Persona series or the Ys series will have to hop on this bandwagon. The story is deep, not super engaging, but fun nonetheless. The combat is simple and allows you to get through the dungeons without overthinking every little bit. And I enjoy my time in high school in the game because I miss going to school and wish I had the time and funds to go back and get another useless degree. Basically, if you’re looking to scratch an itch after beating Persona 5, this is game for you.
A PS4 Review Copy of Tokyo Xanadu EX+ was provided by Aksys Games for the Purpose of this Review.