Terror has gripped the people of Japan. Gruesome murders and mass disappearances plague the streets of Shin Yokozaki City, and there appear to be no indications of who could be behind it or why. Though the police department has spared no expense in looking for answers, their efforts have yielded no results. Now, rumors are beginning to spread that some humans are able to manifest and utilize unspeakable powers. Strange, unexplainable sightings are occurring all over town, but this only leaves the city in more confusion. One young man, Touya Kagari, has unfortunately found himself in the midst of all these bizarre events. Though his memory is unclear, Touya may hold the answer to these mysteries all the while possessing an even darker secret that could save the world or set it ablaze.

Xblaze Code: Embryo is a visual novel set 150 years prior to the events of the popular fighting series, BlazBlue. While it is a wonderfully unique and beautiful game that serves as the origin story for the magnificent world that Arc System Works has created, it should not be confused with the developer’s related titles. While there are many visual similarities, Xblaze has its own identity and style. While many people may be excited to check out this new title, it is important to set gamer’s expectation for this visual adventure so they will not feel misled or disappointed.

XBlaze_Code_Embryo_(Illustration,_45)

Es is as charming and entertaning as she is deadly.

Though many Japanese video game enthusiasts may be familiar with visual novel-style games, Xblaze Code: Embryo has a distinctive approach all its own. While other games in this genre may lean heavily on making choices that affect the outcome, Xbalze focuses almost completely on the story while minimizing the choice elements. There are aspects that affect the ending, but they are not as obvious as you would expect. Try to think of Xbalze as more of a manually operated anime than a visual novel game.  This will be the factor that makes or breaks this game for fans or those interested in trying out this new title.

The gameplay features in Xblaze Code: Embryo are minimal. As you progress through the story, you will be able to access TOi, a smart device that acts as a news and interests aggregate for the main character, Touya. During most of the game, you will have the ability to open your TOi device and view articles that it has compiled for you. These brief reports will contain information on anything from murder commentary to cream puff ads. It is up to the player to decide what to read or what not to read. There is no right or wrong answer, and there are no good or bad articles. Your fate rests simply on whether or not you read or didn’t read some vague, trivial articles. Whether you like it or not, each news piece will affect your fate in some manner that will lead you to one of several various game endings.

unnamed (2)

Your smart device, TOi, is the central gameplay feature that affects your fate in Xblaze.

My issue with this feature is that there is no reason as to how the articles will change the outcome of the game or, logically speaking, why they would even matter. How does reading or not reading an article affect whether or not I will have a good ending? I have no idea. Wouldn’t the most logical approach be to read every article? Apparently not. This is a very frustrating mechanic for Xblaze unless you just accept that it makes no sense, and take your best guess as to which stories to read. But don’t forget, it is just as important to not read articles as it is to read them. Confused? Me too.

There are some funny and rather amusing aspects to this mechanic as well. While the most important articles will be centered on the more serious events, some stories about indoor pools or sunflower body wash can lead to a more light-hearted side of the narrative with fan-service galore, which is always appreciated in these types of games. When constantly being surrounded by murder and chaos, a little bit of levity can go a long way.

unnamed (3)

Xblaze may or may not meet your expectations in gameplay features, but the art, story, and audio will definitely please the senses. This is a visually stunning game. The high-definition animations with bright, vivid colors really explode off the PlayStation Vita’s gorgeous screen. The striking art that the BlazBlue series is known for really shines in Xblaze. Also, the extra animations added to the game really help it to stand out in this genre.

The audio and voice acting are also wonderfully entertaining.  The music is your usual, anime-style soundtrack, but it always sets the perfect tone and mood for the story. Likewise, the Japanese cast is fantastic and never fails to amuse with all of its over-the-top characters. I found the latter particularly exceptional in Xblaze. Nothing pulls me into a story more than extraordinary actors conveying an intriguing story. One issue that many Western fans may have is the lack of English dubbing. For me this is not an issue because I prefer the original Japanese language, but there are some who may have a problem with this.

1372415218-xblaze-code-embryo-2

The story and characters in Xblaze Code: Embryo are the main reason to pick up this title. I love fighting games, but I love fighting games with a deep narrative, history, and lore even more. Xblaze is great for anyone who wants to explore the roots of this incredible series or for anyone who might be interested in jumping in. The characters are fun, distinctive, and charming, and the story is mysterious, comical, and engrossing. While all your typical anime tropes are present, the writers have done a great job in making sure the storyline is fresh and enjoyable.

In the end, Xblaze Code Embryo is a fun experience that may be polarizing for players. While the story and characters are sure to satisfy, the gameplay is still quite underwhelming, and this can make it rather difficult to accept the $39.99 price tag. Again, the key will be to play this game with the right perspective. Try to think of Xblaze as a prologue to the BlazBlue series rather than an in-depth, video game prequel. There is a lot of fun to be had, but don’t expect a wildly interactive visual novel like other games in the genre. This is a beautiful game with an exciting story, but sadly, almost no gameplay. This will be a great game for BlazBlue fans or anime connoisseurs, but may not have much of an audience outside of that.

[A review copy of Xblaze Code: Embryo was provided by Aksys Games]
XBLAZE CODE: EMBRYO REVIEW
Xblaze Code Embryo is fun, beautiful game with a lot of heart and character. Unfortunately, it just doesn't have a lot of gameplay. The one interactive feature in the game can also be rather dissatisfying as it doesn't really give any interesting information and somehow manages to affect your fate and the games endings. If you love BlazBlue and anime, then you might really enjoy this game, but if you want complex gameplay or a deep, choice-based visual novel, then this is probably not the game for you. [PlayStation 3, PS Vita]
Story8
Audio8
Gameplay5
Art Style/Graphics9
PROS
  • Gorgeous animations and art.
  • Fun story and characters.
  • Great voice acting and music.
CONS
  • Negligible and uninspiring gameplay.
  • High price for experience.
7.5Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)
0.0

About The Author

Derrick D
Editorial/Reviews Writer

Derrick has been an avid gamer since before he even started kindergarten. He is a video games enthusiast first and foremost and has a unconditional love for the gaming industry. His fun-loving personality, wide array of experiences, as well as his background in gaming and the film industry have helped him to develop a unique perspective that is always thoughtful and invariably entertaining.