Tokyo Xanadu

Have you heard of a story where a bunch of high school students having special powers at their disposal are saving the world from a grave danger and who, at the same time, are trying to build their relationships, study and have as much fun as possible? Persona? Well, almost =)

Tokyo Xanadu in many aspects is similar to the famous Atlus’ game series and it’s really tempting to say that it’s a low budget clone. For a clone, though, it has some differences.

First and foremost, the combat system in Tokyo Xanadu is real time. In general, I prefer turn based games but there are so few of them that if I was picky I would get to play only one or two JRPGs on every console generation. Once you get used to the number of available moves, which might be a bit overwhelming at the beginning (I memorized the meaning of the countless gauges and indicators only after a few chapters) battles become quite pleasant and enjoyable. The game is really challenging during the first four or five labyrinths but it gets much easier later on, at least, on the normal difficulty.

The bonds you’re building with your friends don’t affect the gameplay as much as it could be. The same goes to parameters like “Wisdom”. The protagonist gets rewards as your stats grow but I don’t think that any quests or relationships depend on these stats.

Speaking of relationships — I like how female characters in this game are written. Whether it’s composed and strong Asuka (I started playing Tokyo Xanadu because of her) or a more classic tsundere Rion, or the mysterious president of the student council Mitsuki — they weren’t just a bunch of girls surrounding the main hero and patiently waiting when he’ll choose one of them. I mean, the romantic elements can definitely be found here but, after all, this game is more about friendship and support than about going out with one of your comrades.

I must admit, though, that I got a bit tired after 50 hours, partially because Tokyo Xanadu didn’t want to end. “Oh, you’ve finished the story?! Congratulations, now you can watch the epilogue, then if you watch it for the second time you’ll get have a chance to win your way to the good ending! Hahaha, but after that good ending you can also get the true ending if you invest 10 more hours” and so on.

Tokyo Xanadu turned out to be a pleasant surprise and a game that I’d easily recommend to anyone interested in JRPG. An okay story, well written characters and an opportunity to decorate your room with a cactus, I couldn’t even have asked for more =)

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There’s an Animate store in Tokyo Xanadu! Seeing that I kind of want to forget about everything, book a flight to Japan and spend more time on Akihabara. And yeah, buy something at this store =) Damn JRPGs and their realistic environments.

Steve showed yesterday something we’ve been working on recently — a new rendering engine =)

This full clip is here (unfortunately, I have no idea how to embed a twitch video here) and the shorter and compressed version is on Steve’s twitter:

So far it’s truly a hybrid of a renderer — clustered deferred + screen-space tiles classification a-la Uncharted 4 (and Frostbite I think and, I bet, others). Shadows are traditional stable cascaded shadowmaps with fallback to our existing aperture lightmaps.

In other news — saw a video of the latest installment of my favorite turn-based strategy game, Age of Wonders — and this is soo cool! Look forward to playing it!

https://www.aow-planetfall.com

I rarely feel something like “I wish I’d been a programmer on this project” playing a game, but now, when I returned back to the world of God of War after a year long break — I’m seriously envious. I’m even trying to find some flaws in the game’s visual, to silence my jealousy a bit — but can’t! I’m sooo looking forward to the GDC talks on GoW graphics this year!

Hearts Of Stone

This 10 hours long DLC feels and plays like a good full-price game. We got a lot of new stuff — new weapons, monsters but, most importantly, a brand new story based on a well known but not getting old tale about a deal with the devil. The writing is superb, hands down. I’d say that the plot is created in the best anime traditions. One moment it’s funny and entertaining and the next — you’re facing how ugly and horrible people might be. During the day you’re drinking with some random hillbillies and enjoying pastoral images of birches and running around goats, just to be pulled into a meaningless fight at night. Hearts of Stone is closer to one of short stories from the first book about Geralt and I always loved it much better the Big and Serious stuff we read in the following books.

Not everything is roses, of course — sometimes we pretend that Geralt didn’t master the axii sign and now has to elaborately solve a problem, which would’ve taken mere seconds using hypnosis. At some point, the plot requires you to perform a break in and despite careful preparation and having to wear a disguise your companions still call you aloud by name. Gwent was annoying in the main game and it’s similarly unnecessary in the DLC.

Anyway, Blood and Wine now looks tempting and frightening, because I’m almost positive it’s going to be great but it’s much longer and bigger and maybe it’s better to put it off a little? Heh, first world problems.