Stay a while and dungeon.
I actually had to do some research when getting ready for this review. I had heard of Xanadu, which was an old game on the NES, but Xanadu Next I had never heard of before. This could be because it was originally a Japanese only release for the N-Gage. Well, that and PC. I was actually taken back when I saw this information, but nevertheless, I was interested in seeing what the developers of one of my favorite new series (The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel) did back in 2005. Come to find out, they made a pretty decent dungeon crawler.
Players take control of a Knight who, after his entire regime was disbanded and marked as outlaws, decides to help out a young student who wants to discover the mysteries of an island. Rumor has it, on very foggy days a giant castle appears in the mist that, when people approach it, seems to disappear immediately. After arriving in town, the knight is gravely wounded in a battle with a mysterious swordsman, and must seek the disappearing castle because it holds a legendary weapon known as the Dragonslayer that wields the power to fully heal him. Until then he must rely on Guardians to keep his broken body together.
Price I’d pay: $19.99
Xanadu Next is an action RPG in the same vein as Diablo. Players will move the knight around using clicks and holds with the mouse, attack enemies by clicking, use abilities mapped to the F buttons, and the like. With the isometric view, I can’t help but think of Diablo while playing. At the same time, Xanadu Next is not as fast paced as Diablo. It feels more methodical in nature, with combat being a bit more strategic. Maneuvering the knight behind or to the side of an enemy will both protect the Knight as well as deal more damage with his strikes.
Players will level up after so much experience. When leveled, they can go to a priestess who will allow them the allocate points into the main stats of the knight. Depending on the stats, the knight’s class may change. This isn’t that big of a deal, but it is a nice reminder of how I had been specing my character. At the same time, I can “delevel” my character to reallocate the points at any time. So I was never stuck as a fighter/tank. I could easily go more magic-based if I wanted to.
Magic and other special abilities are handled a bit differently in Xanadu Next. Players will obtain scrolls that teach them magic abilities, but they can also learn new weapon abilities when using the same kind of weapon long enough, much like proficiencies. These can all be mapped to keys on the keyboard that can really help out in a pinch. All of these use magic to cast and must be refilled using either an item or resting in town.
While it feels like Diablo in a lot of ways, the loot aspect isn’t as abundant as it is in other dungeon crawling style games. Sure, I’ll find a new weapon here and there, but I’m never find things constantly to equip for the better stats. That is still reserved for leveling up.
Guardian cards/ Persona cards
Guardians play a big role in this game. Guardians come in the form of cards that can be equipped to the knight only one at a time. These give passive bonuses to the knight, like more hit points or magic points, or better loot/gold find and other things of that nature. What is great is that these Guardians can also level up the longer players have them equipped. Leveling these cards up increases their potency.
There are a few issues with the game. While I know this is a game from 2005, it really does look rather bland in some aspects. There were some times it was difficult to see exactly what I was looking at when multiple things were on the same floor. This then bleeds into the next issue – targeting enemies. Multiple times I would end up attacking the grass on the ground rather than the enemy next to it. It became an issue when surrounded by multiple enemies, and let’s not forget, Xanadu Next is not a very easy game. Regular dungeon enemies can be a major threat if players aren’t careful, and since gold can be limited, buying up a lot of health potions may not be an option.
Good tracks, as usual.
If there’s one thing Falcom can do it’s create an amazing soundtrack, and Xanadu Next is no exception. The score is really well done, and fits in fantastically with the fantasy setting of it all. It adds a lot to the presentation. While the story is there it is never overly driven into the player’s head. In fact, most of the story comes from tablets that can be found. Players looking for more information on the island and the past can look at these, while players wanting to get back into dungeoning can ignore them.
Xanadu Next is a pretty decently made RPG. I had no idea it existed, but after playing it, I think a lot of fans of the dungeon crawler genre will have a decent time with it. There are a few issues here and there which I mainly chalk up to it being an 11 year old game at this point, but for the most part, players looking for a decent action RPG with a little bit of loot thrown in will find a fun time with this Japanese dungeon crawler.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.