Few games at E3 can trace their lineage as far back as Tokyo Xanadu. The game is a distant descendant of Faxanadu, the late '80s NES classic that I dearly love, itself a spin-off of the even older Dragon Slayer. However, this is not a remake or late-to-the-party sequel. Instead, this marks Falcom's reimagining of the brand entirely, with Aksys Games tapped to publish a localized version. Small wonder, then, that what I played at E3 had nothing at all in common with those other titles. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
The title is receiving a dual-version release on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita, with the PlayStation 4's Tokyo Xanadu eX+ — the one I played — featuring some additonal side content as well as a bonus epilogue and character. The story setup is somewhat familiar. After a mysterious earthquake, the real world merges with a shadow world called Eclipse, which brings forth creatures called The Greed. Using weapons called Soul Devices, players engage in fast-paced action combat while exploring the game's dungeons, with some city exploration sprinkled in for good measure.
As the game begins, Kou gets sucked into Eclipse trying to save Mori, a friend of his, from some thugs harassing her. Little does he know that, in Eclipse, he's the one that needs help, which comes to him in the form of Hiiragi, a girl who is herself well versed in combat. Only one character is ever in play at a time, though players can switch between characters instantly with the press of a button.
As I played up to and just past the first boss, solving a few switch puzzles along the way, I couldn't help but appreciate the easy-to-learn combat system. Apart from a normal weapon strike — Kou was wielding a sword while Hiiragi was equipped with a scythe — each character has a projectile Skill Attack and a dodge roll. That's was it, until finishing the first boss also gave me access to the X Strike, a super-powered special ability. It was refreshingly simple to get the hang of, meaning I could really enjoy my all-too-short playtime to its fullest. That's not to call it easy; in fact, the first boss proved a hefty challenge, and I only bested him by the skin of my teeth.
There are also five elements in play during combat: flame, spirit, steel, wind, and shadow. Each enemy, unless they're neutral, is vulnerable to an element, and each party member has an affinity to a specific element, which all of their attacks are automatically infused with. This doesn't require any extra magic meter or anything like that, it simply offers a tactical reason to switch between characters; element weaknesses are displayed right next to its name when locked on in combat.
I chose to end my demo after defeating that first boss, partly because I don't want to spoil what happens next in the narrative for myself just yet. Tokyo Xanadu seems like it'll offer some easily-digestible action RPG goodness without over-complicating its combat engine, which I appreciate. The PlayStation Vita version will be releasing shortly, on June 30, 2017, while PlayStation 4 owners waiting for the expanded game will need to wait until fall of this year.