When it comes to games that allow people to enjoy a rather strong story while connecting with other characters and going through a day-to-day high school life, sometimes it can feel like the focus is on the interactions with other people. While the dungeon-crawling in Persona is enjoyable, especially in Persona 5, I found myself rushing through such segments so I could get back to the “mundane” life of a high schooler. With Tokyo Xanadu, it feels like there is this stark difference. While getting to know all of these unique students and associates is absolutely entertaining, I couldn’t help but find also looking forward to trips into Eclipse.
It wasn’t because the Eclipse areas were especially intricate. There isn’t the same depth to these dungeons as there are in the Persona series. They’re more similar to the places you would explore in The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel and Ys. They’re interesting for a trip or two and never have areas that leave you especially stumped. Rather, it is the whole way they are structured that makes Tokyo Xanadu stand out. Even when struck with a relatively simple structure, the combat system and handling of the affair makes things more interesting than I imagined.
There’s this sense of intensity and pressure. Tokyo Xanadu knows it is about putting people in an instance that can be cleared in a reasonable amount of time, rather than over the course of a few hours. It even ties growth of Kou’s Courage stat to the ratings you are able to achieve when going through a dungeon, encouraging you to dispatch enemies as efficiently and quickly as possible. (You also end up getting equipment like phone parts and clothing as rewards, driving you forward.) The satisfaction that comes from heading into Eclipse with the right partner to exploit the weaknesses of the creatures within is incredible, and very possible since the game makes sure to alert you to the kinds of Greed creatures that will be inside, their elements, and their numbers.
I guess I felt like Tokyo Xanadu wanted me to succeed. Combat flows so well. There’s no confusion about what to do and when. You can attack with X, chaining them together for perform combos or with a jump for aerial and chain attacks. There are dodges and double jumps available to avoid altercations and take advantages of weaknesses. Skills are easy to use, and since they recover over time or when you land standard physical attacks, it isn’t like there’s this fear that you should save these specials up for when you’ll really need them. Even X-Strikes, the powerful special you’ll need to accrue Strike Points for and use to defeat bosses, feel like something you don’t have to hold back. Just like the skills, you are always gradually earning Strike Points for your attacks, so it feels feasible to occasionally splurge and use this all-powerful attack that can attack all of the enemies within range, instead of saving it up to finish a weakened boss.
But what’s best about it is how often these Eclipse areas appear in Tokyo Xanadu. In addition to story Eclipses, of which there are usually two per chapter, you can sometimes use Eclipse Search to find an optional dungeon to traverse. Since sometimes these can give amazing rewards like the affinity fragments you need to increase the number of relationship events you could see. Between the rewards you get, ranks that lead to increased courage, and varying arrays of enemies to defeat, each area feels like a place you can’t wait to get to.
When I play Persona, there are times when I dread dungeons. Especially since the story will then make it so you are forced to sacrifice free time to focus entirely on this major event. In Tokyo Xanadu, they’re something to anticipate. A good player who picks the proper partners will find themselves speeding through these situations, perhaps regretting it since the battle system and fights are so entertaining. There’s this sense of balance, since these interactions don’t take you away from the more social elements for hours. Instead, you’re able to more equally enjoy every element and feature.
Tokyo Xanadu is available for the PlayStation Vita.