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Traveller In Playtime - Xanadu Next


Xanadu Next is an action RPG made by Falcom and released in 2005 for the PC and N-Gage. The player plays the part of silent knight looking to find the Dragonslayer sword in order to reclaim his soul and find the secrets of the ancient kingdom of Xanadu.

Story & Lore

My overall thoughts on the story are a bit split. Not due to the quality of it, but the presentation. At the start, after getting a sword to the face and damaging your soul, the plot stops being told via proper cutscenes.

Instead, you find tablets and manuscripts out of chronological order which you then give to your sidekick Chara for translation. It works well with the exploration to try and piece together the history of Xanadu as you go along.

But I'll admit that I didn't care for these texts one bit. I think that was mostly me being hasty and wanting to get back to exploring, but you do at least get healing lunches out of the ordeal.

It provides you a way to puzzle out the main plot before it becomes relevant, which is always nice. And even with my cursory knowledge of Xanadu, I still managed to understand the last part of the story when it returns to cutscenes.

The whole thing is pretty nice. It's basically the plot of any Ys game, plus a bit of extra texture here and there.

World Design

The construction of the world is to be commended. I am contractually obligated to compare it to Dark Souls. The game consists of a semi-open world barring two areas. I don't think it makes complete sense spacially, but it's really fun to explore it. I'm pretty sure you're always presented with at least two places to explore at a time, which is welcome.

After making enough progress in an area, you'll probably unlock a shortcut back to the village where you began. It's paced rather well and the design doesn't break once you get access to teleporting.

They space out teleporters, let you make beelines through areas and the final dungeon is so big and compact that it only needs one teleporter, plus half a dozen shortcuts.

It all comes together to a compact world that is pretty easy to navigate, even if you forsake teleporting.


I really like what the game does to make the most out of itself. Once you set out from the village, the challenge is to get as much done as possible in a single rest.

Healing is limited for a long while, since potions are rare to find and gold is best spent elsewhere. Your spells and skills are limited as well, though you do get a fair amount of uses.

Then it's just a matter of mapping out the current area, finding treasure, fighting monsters and solving puzzles. You're not free to explore as you please though.

As is common in these sorts of games, there is a limiting mechanic to force you back to base. But instead a durability system, the game uses skeleton keys. They work in a similar fashion to small keys in Zelda, except you need to buy or make them. Early on, this is a bit of a money sink, but at that point, you can't get far without dying anyway, so it isn't as bad. As you get stronger and richer, you can get away with longer runs. There's also a half-interesting way of keeping the escalating prices of keys down by selling the the item merchant monster bones so he can make more.

I understand that they wanted to force people back to avoid them making too much progress without saving. And with a free teleport back to the village and the excellent world design, it isn't bothersome.

The game let's you return to the village if you die by losing some gold and assorted consumables. It really feels like Demon's Souls' (please tell me I spelled that correctly) bloodstain mechanic could just be slotted in here without issue. You can also respawn on the spot by using a rare elixir.

Puzzles & Dungeon Items

We can't have a game with some Zelda DNA in it without some puzzles, can we?

I can't say I enjoyed the puzzles presented that much. They are almost exclusively box pushing puzzles. A tad innovative, since you can attack boxes to make them into stepping stones, which makes them immovable. The game also expects you to do some tricky diagonal jumps that feel like I'm breaking some sort of unnamed video game rule.

But since I'm an idiot who can't think a few puzzle steps ahead, I had to resort to Gamefaqs guidance a few times, YMMV.

The dungeon items aren't that interesting. They're mostly there to remove obstacles in a boring fashion or reward backtracking with some shinies. It's good that the game rewards you for keeping an eye out for secrets to use dungeon items on though.

But since the game is more focused on combat and the item limit is rather generous, I'll give 'em a pass. Still, some fun puzzles for every item would've been nice.

Combat & Magic

Once I got into the combat system, I realised that it reminded me greatly of King's Field(plugplugplug), except not as bad. The atmosphere isn't far off either.

The fundamentals remain the same. You spot an enemy, run to their back, attack, back off and spam magic if you need it. It's tad monotous outside of boss fights, but I find it really satisfying.

The speed of things is the big factor here. There's no stamina system, so the only limit to attacking is your greed and SP for skills and magic. There's a really good rhythm to the whole thing and using spacing to dodge and select targets works well.

I didn't use skills much, but the magic was a blast. Quite literally, as it's very powerful. I love it when magic systems aren't garbage. Do you hear that, King's Field 4!?

It isn't always useful due to elemental resistance, but you are allowed to spam certain spells at incredible speeds. And AoE spells are really good for escaping when you're surrounded by enemies.

The fact that you can swap out spells at any time means that you'll always have some spells to stun enemies at a distance, even if they don't deal much damage.

Progression Systems

Xanadu Next uses systems similar to Ys, except with a few extras. Leveling is a rare event, and once you get one, you earn a few stat points to distribute. (It's like the Dark Souls of dungeon crawlers!)

These stats are then used to buff yourself up a tad and make it possible to wear better equipment. Just like in Ys, there aren't that many things to equip, but every new thing is usually a decent upgrade.

By using a weapon, your skill with it increases. This makes it stronger and let's you learn its skill for use with other weapons. Everyone one of these is unique, so you're rewarded for leveling every weapon. It isn't as bad as it sounds, since the first area is loaded with grass that also increases weapon skill.

It's a fun little system, especially since you can get some passive support abilities to pair up with active ones and magic as you please. Combined with the Guardians, the game succeeds pretty well at providing options.

Guardians are spirits you find across your journey. Each gives an unique stat boost and can be leveled via killing enemies or the rare ancient statue. They make for some ok choices, but as often happens, there are a few that are much more useful than others. What would you use, an EXP booster or some status effect protection?

Tiny Annoyances

All right, let's end with a list of some small things that got to me.

  • There are a bit too many reused enemies for my taste, Goblins especially. Since you fight all enemies the same way, it is a bit disappointing that there aren't at least more types to look at. I could forgive the game if this was only an issue in the bonus dungeon.
  • The game crashed on me twice when I tried to teleport, which made teleporting a bit scary and made me walk instead in a few instances.
  • The GUI takes a bit from Diablo, so there isn't complete controller support. You have to use the mouse to manage your inventory.
  • There are mages that can STEAL YOUR LEVELS. EN MASSE. Demon's Souls was at least kind enough to space out such nonsense and probably kill you when it landed.
  • Triggering a jump takes a little run, which is easy to forget and led to a few unwarranted falls.

Final Judgement


- Welcome to my world, Enjoy your stay, But always remember, There is no return.

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About Kerrik52one of us since 3:12 AM on 02.28.2016

Greetings, one and all. I'm known as Kerrik52 around these parts and I'm Swedish dude with a bachelor's degree in computer science.

I play a lot of games, even the bad ones if they have something interesting to offer. I then write about them on this site for you all to read. I've written stuff about about a lot of genres, but if you need recommendations, I suggest my From Software Retrospective and my "Let's Bitch" series about the Souls-games. At present, I am writing weekly reviews, which is a fun exercise.

I also have a little Youtube channel bearing my name that mostly contains videos related to my blogs.

I'm mostly a character action game and JRPG player, but I try to keep my gaming diet varied. Here are some games/series I love:

Souls Games
God Hand
Resident Evil 4
Tales of
Ratchet & Clank
King's Field
Devil May Cry
Legacy of Kain
Spyro the Dragon
Shin Megami Tensei
Legend of Heroes
Ape Escape

I have a very low standard for movies, but I have some favorites. These include:

The Secret Life of Walter Witty
Pooh's Grand Adventure
Scott Pilgrim VS the World

The last TV shows I watched were House, Mythbusters and Fringe.

Anime on the other hand, is something I watch a decent amount of. I like:

Black Rock Shooter
Fist of the Northstar

I don't read very much anymore, but I like Asimov and Lovecraft.

Music-wise I'm an apostle of Dio and the German power metal scene. Other favorites include:

Gamma Ray
Iron Savior
Freedom Call
Axel Rudi Pell

Go ahead and share a piece of your world with me and I'll pay back in kind. Don't be deterred if I answer you in a wall of text though. I just can't help it sometimes.