Visual Novels

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Aksys Games and Arc System Works had previously released XBlaze Code: Embryo on the Playstation 3 and Vita to the delight of visual novel fans in the gaming community. The game received mixed reviews and a modest reception as it suffered from a steep difficulty curve due to the trial and error approach of its mandatory TOi interface. As such, the developers have taken the feedback to heart and gone back to the drawing board with XBlaze Lost: Memories and released the next instalment that is a vast improvement over the original XBlaze visual novel.

The story follows the tale of the protagonist named “Me”, an overprotective girl who lives with her younger sister in the city of Ishana. As “Me”, you do everything in your power to guard and care for the younger sister as a result of a traumatic childhood of losing your mother and harboring hatred towards your estranged father. After a sudden disappearance, you are transported to a strange world known as the “Phantom Field” where you befriend a spunky girl named “Nobody” as your memories have been taken from you. You embark on a quest to find your sister as you search for answers as to who “Nobody” really is, the origins of the Phantom Field and the truth behind your mother’s untimely death.

The original XBlaze Code: Embryo relied on an interface known as the TOi system where you were required to read articles and browse news articles that determined the turn of events throughout the game. This time around, you wander as the “Me” protagonist in the parallel world known as the “Phantom Field” searching for scattered memory fragments. The more you collect, the more you learn about the truth and the quicker you progress to the deeper levels of the maze-like world. You also will find traps that will ensnare you if you are not careful as the world is full of shifting pathways and surprises. After collecting a certain number of memory fragments, you will be quizzed by “Nobody” on what you have learned with riddles being thrown at you in a question and answer format in multiple choice fashion. Gameplay is more streamlined in this sequel with a refresher and recap of the key events that took place in the original with its cast of characters. This is great to bring players up to speed if they missed out on the original or for those wishing to dive into the game with no prior knowledge of its predecessor.

There are few choices in the game to be made that make the game far less punishing than its predecessor in terms of difficulty. While XBlaze Code: Embryo had multiple endings, there is one ending to strive for and the developer’s decision to make Lost Memories more linear should appease fans of the original who found themselves overwhelmed by the TOi system. Exploration across different floor to find memory fragments isn’t terribly exciting but a welcome break from the long stretch of reading that most visual novels require. The tone of this game is more comical and laid-back with lots of cheesy humor thrown in which stands in contrast to the serious and deep themes of the first XBlaze game. There does seem to be a a lot of “tsundere” behavior amongst the protagonist and other characters that makes it hard to take the story seriously at select moments. Nobody is skimpily dressed when you first meet her and her childish and carefree behavior is amusing at first but quickly outwears its welcome. 

Visually, the game’s character designs and environments are fitting for the story. The 2D map and sprites will no doubt appeal to fans of retro gaming that grew up with many titles in the 80s and 90s. Special effects and animations are excellent as Arc System Works, the developers behind the BlazBlue and Guilty Gear series, has handled the artwork with much polish and care. Those who missed out on XBlaze Code: Embryo will have an opportunity to see the developer’s previous work throughout the flashbacks and story events retold.

XBlaze Lost: Memories is an improvement upon the original as the visual novel is more accessible to both XBlaze fans and newcomers. Though the links to the BlazBlue universe are limited, the game is a great title for those looking for a fun and enjoyable visual novel on the Playstation 3 and Vita. Aksys Games has once again stepped up to fill the void of visual novels on gaming consoles as the majority of them are exclusive to Steam. XBlaze Lost: Memories is a short title but an entertaining one while it lasts that hopefully paves the way for another XBlaze visual novel in the near future.

 

PROS – Intriguing plot, Polished Visuals, Comical Dialogue

CONS – Repetitive Exploration, Low Replay Value

SCORE – 75%

This review is based on a digital copy of XBlaze Lost: Memories on the Playstation 3 provided by Aksys Games 

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