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Xanadu Next

Score: 85%
ESRB: Not Rated
Publisher: XSEED Games
Developer: Nihon Falcom Corporation
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: RPG/ Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

Xanadu Next is actually an older game, first released a bit over ten years ago, in Japan only. It has been released in English before, for the N-Gage. Yes, you can stop laughing now. I am quite sure you didnít play it then. This means that this is the first English release for a popular Japanese game that is now available to the majority of us.

Considering the game is over ten years old, the graphics are nice. They are super-ultra detailed like some of the newer games, but that also means that you donít have to have a brand new video card just to play. The characters are well done. Even your NPCs can be easily distinguished from one another. Also, when you change your armor, it actually shows up on the screen. I know thatís a little thing to add, but I always liked seeing armor changes on-screen. They also did a really good job of having several different types of terrain. Considering the game is all centered around one coastal town, I didnít expect to see open woods, mountains complete with lava, and underground ruins. With the way they made everything twist and turn around, the landscape worked rather well and didnít get boring.

All of your text is on-screen only. There is no voicework in Xanadu Next. Since there isnít any text during battle, this works out fine. You can read the text at your leisure. There are a few typos, but nothing that I couldn't figure out what it was supposed to say. The background music is pleasant instrumental music. Personally I liked it, but you could mute the sound if you want. You can also use the game configuration tool to adjust or turn off the volume of the background music. You also have sound effects that you can adjust the volume of as well. These can be quite handy to leave turned on since you can hear your weapon strikes and such.


Gameplay:

Xanadu Next is the story of a scholar, Char, who is determined to investigate the mysterious Castle Strangerock. While it might sound easy to investigate a castle, there is a bit of a problem with this one. It is located somewhere in Lake Orwell. Where isnít exactly known as it only appears when it is foggy out, but it disappears when anyone gets close. The Dragonslayer Sword is rumored to be hidden in the castle as well. Char is escorted by a knight, your character. Three years ago, there was a war between the knights. He was a part of that war as a member of the NorthSea Chevaliers, and it didnít end well. Char invites you to join her on this mission to basically get you out and doing something again. When the knights were disbanded, your honor was lost and life was meaningless. Char thinks of you as a brother, as you grew up together in the orphanage. She wants to explore Castle Strangerock, so you are there to help.

You are the only playable character in Xanadu Next, so get used to exploring alone. Youíll have to rely on healing potions for health since you donít have a healing character to drag around with you. Basically, this is an RPG heavy on exploring. It is a matter of figuring out where you need to go, how to get there, and what to do once you get there. You will need to talk to people, but really only to buy stuff and for a very few actions. These will mostly be people in town.

You can rest (and save) at your room in the inn to heal. You can also store stuff there with Char. Sandra is a troubadour at the inn and sheís there to make epic songs. Lazarus is a mercenary at the Weaponís Shop, who can help you learn how to fight. You will buy and sell weapons and armor from Merchant Baggins. As you progress further in the game, you will unlock better armor and weapons. Shopkeeper Spence sells potions, keys, and other stuff. Keys will be very important to get you into locked doors. They can only be used once, so make sure to keep them handy! You can use your bonus points to raise various levels by talking to Liese in the sanctum. Agnes is a treasure hunter who will decide that youíre her partner once you get to the ruins. Visit with the people for as much help as you can get. There will be lots of trials for you to go through, including near death, but if you keep going, you will eventually uncover the secrets of Castle Strangerock.


Difficulty:

There is no way to change the difficulty in Xanadu Next, but overall, I did not find it to be particularly difficult, with the exception of some of the bosses. At the beginning, you might need to run around and level up a bit to survive. If you have no sense of direction (like me) and are always lost (even with a map), youíll be plenty fine on levels for the normal enemies. As for bosses, well those can be a problem. The first few werenít too bad, especially when it was easy to save right before them. Some, like the Chimera Zombie, are a true pain in the rear! When you level up, you are fully restored in health and skill, so that can be quite helpful.

There are a variety of weapons available, but they all have conditions. You canít find the best weapon in the game at level one and expect that you can swing it. There are also many magic spells available. You can find some of them to learn, but you can also purchase some from Spence.

Before you get too far into the game, you will gain the ability to use Guardians, like the people of the town. You are unique with yours though, as you can change Guardians. Your Guardians can be leveled up just like a character. When you switch Guardians, they will not lose that level and you can switch back to the other one at any time. I found it beneficial to level up the Guardians as I got them so that when I needed a specific one, it would be stronger. Selecting the proper Guardian can get your through a difficult boss battle.


Game Mechanics:

In Xanadu Next, by default, Left Mouse Click makes you go places and Right click will let you select on things like Talk. You also use it to open chests. The arrow keys will turn the camera left and right and you can also use the mouse wheel to turn the camera. You canít change the tilt. Left Click will attack enemies with your stronger skills, while Right Click attacks enemies when you are close to them. There are a lot more keystrokes that will activate potions and such and these can all easily be changed in the game configuration to be whatever you like to use. You can also use a controller to play Xanadu Next. Those buttons are also completely configurable, which is nice. Personally, I still found the keyboard/mouse easier to use, but thatís up to you.

You will need to make sure to equip your skills in the slots on the top of the screen. You can click on Menu in the top right corner to find your stats and stuff. The only other thing I should mention is jumping. You will automatically jump across gaps if you run at them. If you go too slowly though, you will fall. Be careful on jumping! There are some spots that you just canít jump, so you will have to wait until you get the winged boots to cross them. You can save at the glowing pillars found in various places. I recommend saving when you can because if you die, you either start from the last save point or you lose 50% of your gold warping back to town.

Overall, I have quite enjoying playing Xanadu Next. Itís a great old school RPG with an interesting story. You can probably play through the game in 30 hours or so, which means itís not the worldís longest RPG, but it will keep you entertained. If you want to relive a nostalgic RPG, check out Xanadu Next on Steam.


-Cyn, GameVortex Communications
AKA Sara Earl

Minimum System Requirements:



OS: Windows XP, Processor: Pentium III 866 MHz, Memory: 1 GB RAM, Graphics: 32 MB VRAM, 3D accelerator compatible w/ DirectX 9.0c, DirectX: Version 9.0c, Storage: 2 GB available space, Sound Card: Compatible with DirectX 9.0c
 

Test System:



OS: Windows 10, CPU: Intel Core i7-3630QM 2.4 GHz, RAM: 16 GB, Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GT 730M, Hard Drive: 400 GB free

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