Protagonist Kou Tokisaka stumbles into a parallel world, The Eclipse, while trying to rescue fellow classmate Asuka Hiiragi. From there, he joins Asuka’s quest to eliminate the evil lurking in The Eclipse, while working several part-time jobs at once and attending school. Kou seems to have an overwhelming need to help out everyone around him, whether that’s the various small business owners who monopolise his free time or his classmates, who can’t seem to do basic tasks without help. This is Tokyo Xanadu EX+.
The plot is one massive Japanese role-playing game trope. Negative personality traits get out of hand and rip a portal to a new dimension, dragging bystanders in and forcing the protagonist and his group to run a rescue mission. Alongside this you’ve also got the ‘free-time’ element, where you can have Kou spend his free time exploring his hometown of Morimiya and catching up with his classmates, increasing their social bond. It’s something we’ve seen executed better plenty of times before, but it works fine. Certainly, it’s nothing special, but it’s not a total car crash either, with a diverse mix of characters preventing it from being completely one-dimensional.
Visually, the game feels a bit lacking, with nothing that stands out aesthetically. Character design is nice, but quite plain, and not much can be said for the environments that are, as a whole, pretty drab and nondescript. Considering the game's set in one of the most vibrant and bustling cities in the world, it does Tokyo little justice with the city scenes sporting bland backgrounds with hardly any NPCs filling the area. It’s inoffensively boring, but the feeling that things could be so much better lingers.
Fortunately, the action combat element of the game is its star feature -- it’s interesting, and ultimately really fun. Once you start adding party members, you can have up to three active members in your formation at a time. Enemies have type weaknesses, and each character has a correlating type and strong fighting style. Before entering a dungeon you’ll be asked to select the party members you want to take with you, and will be presented with an overview of the types of enemies that are in the dungeon allowing you to formulate a tactical approach. This forces you to be more logical as you pick characters that are better suited to each dungeon, rather than whoever is higher levelled.
Though the dungeons themselves are pretty linear, the battles are challenging, and at times a real struggle. You really have to think tactically, especially with the bosses. Each boss has a different fighting style and weak point, and each battle feels different which stops the whole thing from blending into itself. At times combat can feel like a hack and slash game with endless button mashing, but as time goes on a lot more mechanics are introduced which have RPG elements, causing you to more carefully consider your actions.
Tokyo Xanadu eX+ is a wonderful way to spend several hours thanks to a delightfully fun combat system. The standard JRPG storyline means everything feels very familiar, but it's not all bad. Overall, the game's nothing special -- certainly not to look at -- but there's at least plenty of content here, and the title does a decent job of keeping things fresh.