By Steve Baltimore / September 11th, 2015
|Title||XBlaze: Lost Memories|
|Developer||Arc System Works|
|Release Date||August 11, 2015|
|Platform||PlayStation 3, Vita|
|Age Rating||ESRB – Mature|
BlazBlue has always been a franchise that interested me. I had played a couple of the fighting games and found that, while the story was quite convoluted, I still enjoyed it. So, when Aksys Games announced they were localizing the prequel visual novels, the XBlaze series, I knew I wanted to to check them out at some point. So, when the chance game came to review XBlaze: Lost Memories, I thought it would be a good chance to jump into these.
The story begins with a young girl at her mother’s bedside. The mother is very ill and doesn’t have much time left. She instructs the girl to take care of her sister as she passes away. The girl’s father enters and carries her body away. The girl blames him for her mother’s death since he had experimented on her with magic. She chases him to his workshop door, pounding it telling him to stop experimenting on her mother when everything is enveloped with blue light.
Some years pass and you see that young girl once again, taking care of her little sister. She is very protective of her since she has a very special magical ability that would make her a valuable target for kidnappers, including her father, she believes. One day, the little sister vanishes without a trace. After searching frantically for her, the girl realizes she has entered their father’s old workshop where a machine has created a mysterious portal. Without much thought, she goes into the portal to find her sister.
She is teleported to a strange place called the Phantom Field. She soon meets an eccentric girl named Nobody. Nobody says the girl’s sister had just passed through there and was waiting on the lowest levels of the Phantom Field. To descend deeper into the field, she will have to collect memory fragments and unlock the mysteries of the strange place in order to be reunited with her sister.
Aksys did a fantastic job with the writing in both of the XBlaze games. I was sucked into the story right off the bat. What I thought was great this time around is that the memory fragments you collect are the memories of the characters from the previous game. So, in a way, they completely retell the story of XBlaze: Embryo, but you get to see it from the different viewpoints of each character. Some memories also contain bits of what happened after the previous game ended — this will be important later. In addition to that, the story of the girl and Nobody as they clear the Phantom Field is fantastic. The reason I keep referring to the girl and her sister in this way is because she is an unnamed protagonist. You will supply her name at the beginning of the story, and the sister is, in fact, called Little Sister.
Graphically speaking, the artwork is simply amazing. These character portraits are highly detailed, colorful, and just pop right off the screen at you. I was really impressed at the different expressions they drew for each character and just how wide a range of emotions they conveyed. There is very little in the way of animation — they basically move the still art around to give the illusion of motion, but this works and, honestly, adds quite a bit to certain scenes. The environment art is very impressive, as well, and really brings you into to the story.
A good visual novel has to have good music in order to really bring the story life. Thankfully, this game delivers in this department, as well. There is a wide range of music here from upbeat happy tunes for fun times to dark, more somber tunes to drag you to depths of despair as the characters see Hell firsthand. My only real problem in this area is that they reused a lot music from the first game, which, since they were retelling the story, I can forgive somewhat, but I would like to have heard some more new ones, as well. The game is completely voiced in Japanese, and the actors do a fantastic job bringing out the characters personalities. There is no English dub for this for this one.
I mentioned you would have to navigate the Phantom Field and collect memory fragments to reach your little sister on the lowest level. Here is where some some gameplay comes in. Each floor of the Phantom Field is a simple 2D top-down dungeon with four memory fragments on each floor. These are pretty straightforward, and you will complete them very easily. You can ask Nobody how many crystals are left on each floor or to return to the floor starting point, which I used to go down the branching paths faster. You will also notice these little creatures you can click on throughout each floor. These creatures will give you TIPs. This is basically your glossary of key terms, characters, places, and events in the story. It will be much more important for you to fill this out if you didn’t play the previous game than if you did. Though you do get a trophy for finding them all. Once you have collected three of the four fragments on each floor, you can move on. Nobody will give you a quiz at the end of each floor right before you descend. These questions will consist of things you’ve learned in the story so far, or sometimes even a riddle. You have to get all four correct without missing one. If you miss one, you can take the quiz over, so it’s not a huge deal.
In the end, I really enjoyed XBlaze: Lost Memories. While I played the previous title, it’s not necessary for you to understand what is going on in this game, but I would still suggest picking it up if for nothing else the additional endings. It was great to see the story of the XBlaze: Code Embryo told from a different perspective and find out what happened to these characters after that story’s conclusion. You get around 20 hours of gameplay for the $39.99 price tag. You can probably get a bit more if you watch all the extra characters episodes that unlock when you complete the main story. I have no problem recommending this one to series fans, BlazBlue fans, or fans of visual novels in general. From the great story to the fantastic art, this one has a lot to offer.
Game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
Aksys Games. Visual NovelArc System WorksBlazblueEmbryoLost MemoriesXblaze