Are you new to the new BlazBlue universe and want to indulge yourself into its world? Or are you an old time fan that is looking for answers to BlazBlue's confusing timeline? XBlaze is now out in the North American PSN store for both Vita and PS3, a physical copy is also available for purchase. There is no word for a European localization but Xblaze is import friendly unless you don’t know how to read English all that well. Now let’s jump into the review.
XBlaze’s events take place 150 years before the events of BlazBlue, so it is safe to assume that the Xblaze is within the same universe as Blazblue’s. There are terminology references to BlazBlue in XBlaze but XBlaze is its own contained story and has no relation to Blazblue whatsoever.
XBlaze centers on Toya Kagari, a survivor of a disaster that wiped out everyone that happened to be in the vicinity of the epicenter of the explosion. One day after leaving his part time job, he happens to hear a ringing noise, the ringing noise peaks his interest and as he tries to find the source of the sound, Toya then finds that the noise is coming from the area that the disaster took place 10 years ago. With the blast area being gated, he finds a way in and sees a man that appears to be severely injured. Toya rushes to the man and the man then attacks Toya injuring him and as death seemed apparent, a small cute girl named Es comes to Toya’s rescue. Es then explains that she works for the Misturugi Agency and that there people being “infected” by an element that causes the victim gain special powers while causing them to go insane. Now Toya must rely on his childhood friends, Es and the Mitsurugi Agency.
There are multiple endings that the player might receive, in total there nine endings to achieve. All in all, XBlaze’s story is very interesting and it makes it really hard to go into more detail without spoiling the game.
With XBlaze being a visual novel, the developers have to do whatever they can to draw in an audience and give them a reason to enjoy the story the developers created. Despite XBlaze having an excellent plot, the game is very barebones. The story flows by itself with little to no interaction from the player. The system that dictates what ending you get is called TOi, which is short for Technology of Interest. The TOi is the place that works like a news application, where the player is able to read news updates on events take place within the game. The player is also able to read the biographies of important characters in the game.
Whenever there is a new article to read on the TOi, a light blue flashes on the top right of the screen that reads TOi. Depending on what articles you may read on the TOi, the ending the player receives will change. The player is able to read all the articles at once or choose to read only one specific article to change the ending that the player will receive. This adds decent replay value to XBlaze but it isn’t necessarily that good. The TOi makes for a very hallow experience, while the developers came up with a decent path system, the TOi system is not flourished enough and with a sequel already in the works, my only wish is for a better thought out path ending system.
A warning that there is a game breaking bug in the game that isn’t fixed unless you patch the game by connecting to the PSN network. The bug is easy to come across and happens fairly early in the game, the bug is what caused the delay of my review. I’m fairly content that Aksys was able to patch the game as fast they could but the bug should have easily been found by Aksys and fixed before they shipped the game. This issue can also be an issue for any Europeans that may consider importing XBlaze, unless you are connected the North American PSN, I strongly advise against importing Xblaze. Hopefully these type of issues are addressed by Aksys more quickly before shipping out a broken game.
XBlaze is a very nice looking game and appears to be very crisp on the Vita’s screen. XBlaze may or not be running at native resolution but it really does appear to be so. There really isn’t much to say about the art or graphics part of XBlaze as there is no exploration option like in Danganronpa or Virtue’s Last Reward. The character designs are also good and seem to be done by the same character designer from the mainline BlazBlue games. XBlaze features a neat dynamic view that makes the game more like an anime episode rather than a Visual Novel. I really want that little feature to be implemented in the future by Arc Systems. Overall Xblaze is an average looking game but I can only imagine Arc Systems could only do so much on small budgets.
XBlaze overall is a fairly average Visual Novel but with its great SciFi like setting and story it’s hard for a BlazBlue fan to pass this game up. XBlaze can be easily picked up by anyone not familiar with the BlazBlue universe, because of the games self-contained story. Some may be put off by the fact that the endings may be achieved with little to no interaction by the player. I advise to anyone who is looking for a deep experience to stay away from XBlaze as you will feel like the game is way too shallow for you.
Who should play this?
· Hardcore BlazBlue fans that are looking for anything that may take place in the BlazBlue universe
· Visual Novel fans that don’t mind an experience that requires little to no player interaction
Who should avoid this?
· BlazBlue fans looking for a game that directly involves BlazBlue as Xblaze is a self-contained game
· Anyone looking for another Visual Novel masterpiece like Danganronpa and Virtues Last Reward
· European importers as the game is broken without the patch that is available only on the North American PSN network.