By: Ted Chow
As a note to readers, I never had the chance to play the original XBlaze Code: Embyro and went into the sequel with an open mind. As far as the series goes, XBlaze follows the same visual novel approach to storytelling as its predecessor, and it’s fine as a standalone story even if you haven’t checked out the first game. The game is a precursor to what happens within the Blazblue universe and is a nice addition to fans of the Blazblue mythos.
As indicative of most visual novels, you will be taking hands off approach to most of the gameplay. The difference from the first game is that in this XBlaze you can actually control your protagonist as she travels through the phantom field.
While the interaction is limited to moving across a pixilated world, it is far better to have some gameplay than none at all. As far as the controls are concerned, everything is self explanatory and much less of the focus than the story.
It will come as no surprise that the game is inspired by the Japanese Anime industry. As one who follows the industry closely, the visualization and animated work in XBlaze is to the quality that I have come to expect. The characters are crisp and the overall presentation is well received, although the expressions of our main protagonist can repeat more often than I would prefer.
The soundtrack is typical J-Pop, and the voice acting of all the characters are performed reasonably well, but character tropes are prevalent and some of the voice acting for certain characters can be off putting at times.
Compared to the first game, this iteration of XBlaze gives the player some participation in the visual novel, even if it is rather superfluous to the greater focus of the story. The player will get to move around the phantom field as the main protagonist and break up the constant bombardment of text.
Although minor on the surface, it proves to be a nice addition as it can get pretty exhaustive to have to be cognizant of having to move the text along and not enjoying the story as much as say watching an Anime.
While moving in the phantom field you will be collecting blue crystals called memory fragments that will move the character along to the next level. During the transition from level to level, the main visual story will play out.
Additional information and stories can be found via the main menu under the TIPS and memory sections. Side memories can also be collected in the form of colored stones that represent the memories of different characters. These stones are mainly collected by participating in Nobody’s riddle games, which occur before the end of each level.
Even though the phantom field acts as an intermission between story points, the story is the main draw of the game and of the XBlaze series. A good number of characters are back from the original such as Es and Toya, but a new cast in the form of the main protagonist offers a different perspective to what transpired in the first game.
The new cast is also established in a way to be more personal with the player as you can name your main character and such, but the underlining story plays out the same. As far as accessibility to the series goes, players can enjoy the game as a new experience without being forced to play the first, but an expanded context would be given if you did.
XBlaze Lost: Memories is a nice addition to those that enjoyed the first XBlaze and the BlazBlue universe. Expanding upon the first with added gameplay gives the game more interaction and immersion for the player to experience. Overall, if you enjoy visual novels and an interesting story that expands upon the BlazBlue franchise, XBlaze Lost: Memories is one game you should experience for yourself.