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XBlaze Lost: Memories review

Xblaze Lost Memories

A hero’s journey to the underworld is ubiquitous in narrative tradition. As far back as the third century B.C., the Argonautica detailed Orpheus’ decent to rescue Eurydice, returning his beloved wife to the world of the living. 2400 years later, protagonists continue to make downward pilgrimages to liberate their loved ones, as writers strive for new way to spin age-old yarns.

With the release of XBlaze Lost: Memories for the PlayStation 3 and PS Vita, the team at Arc System Works adopts the structure of the Greek epic into visual novel form. Players are sent exploring a mysterious abyss known as the Phantom Field, in search of color-coded, crystalized memory fragments which help reveal the backstories of two main characters, as well as a quartet of secondaries. Echoing the epic poems, the expedition is inundated with intrigue, saturated in the peculiar and the poignant as players make their way through this ten-hour trek.

XBlaze Lost Memories (5)

Wisely, Memories prologue takes its time with expositional elements, devoting a full hour to backstory. At first, we encounter a young girl sharing her last moments with a terminally ill mother. The youngster’s farewell is cut short when the women is taken into her father’s study, where a strange sapphire light seems to signal some type of nefarious pseudo-science. Following that scene, we jump forward where the girl (named “Me” as default, but mercifully changeable) is keeping an eye over her inquisitive but obedient little sister.

Me’s errands outside of the house are disrupted when she’s alerted to her sister’s departure. Hurrying home, she fears the worst- that the same fate that befell her mother has happened to her sibling. When she arrives, she enters her father’s abandoned workshop, and is subsequently transported to the Phantom Field. The desolation of this realm is disrupted by a character named Nobody, who explains that Me will have to collect memory fragments if she hopes to see her sister.

XBlaze Lost Memories (2)

It’s here that Memories’ plot dovetails with the original XBlaze, with players seeing a number of the plot points of the previous game from alternate perspectives, Rashomon-style. As such, the game delivers a low barrier of entry to newcomers, while rewarding returning players with fresh insights into characters like Touya and Es as well as the BlazBlue lore.

Much like a Greek epic, XBlaze Lost: Memories is rich in mythos, offering an intricately woven tapestry of character, conflict, and conspiracy. Whereas Code: Embryo employed the Technology of Interest system (or TOi) which forked the storyline based on what articles players read, Memories offers more of a straightforward approach, with elements that have a diminished impact on the end-game.

XBlaze Lost Memories (4)

The downside is the title’s linearity doesn’t offer the same type of replay-ability, finding additional playtime through the purchase of downloadable content. The upside is that Memories is more immediately accessible with the absence of the abstruse mechanic. Fortunately, support is only as far as a tap of the triangle button, with a press revealing a database of content on people, locations, objects, and even the world at large.

Memories’ expositional scenes are momentarily interrupted once Me enters the Phantom Field, as the visual novel gives way to a rudimentary dungeon crawl. Although monsters wander about, players are compelled to be avoidant rather than antagonistic, as they solve basic navigational puzzles in the pursuit of the crystals. Pleasingly, guidance is always a button press away, with Nobody offering her own brand of ambiguous assistance. Before moving onto the next floor, players must pass an informal multiple choice quiz to ensure they’re been paying attention to the plotline. Even for gamers with text anxiety, there’s little reason to worry, Memories’ examinations are consistently tranquil.

XBlaze Lost Memories (1)

Visually, Memories manages to outshine its already impressive predecessor. Visual novels traditionally offers sequences of static images, with the sporadic instance of animation. But with XBlaze, nearly every scene feels fluid, with the game exhibiting graphical flourishes like zooms, immersive camera angles, and a virtuous depth-of-field effect. Sonically, the game’s soundtrack isn’t quite as adept, with largely innocuous melodies that complement the on-screen activity. The game’s Japanese voice-acting offers non-compulsory subtitles, and while the intermittent localization hitch can be noticed(a double negative here, awkward font kerning there) the adaptation is largely admirable.

Much like its predecessor, XBlaze Lost: Memories is the rare visual novel that impeccably blends adept writing with a gorgeous, anime-like aesthetic. Whether your preference is portable or console, Memories will keep fans of the genre enthralled for at least ten hours, regardless of their familiarity with the source material.

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XBlaze Lost: Memories was played on the PS Vita with review code provided by the publisher.

XBlaze Lost: Memories
Platform:
 PlayStation 3, PS Vita
Developer: Arc System Works
Publisher: Aksys Games
Release date: August 11th, 2015
Price at release: $39.99 retail or via PSN
Language(s): Japanese with English subtitles

Tech-Gaming and Aksys Games are giving away two digital copies of XBlaze Lost: Memories, which give players the PlayStation 3, PS Vita iterations of the game, along with DLCTo win a copy, simple leave the name of your favorite Arc System Works game! Two random winners will be announced on Sunday, August 23rd, 2015 at 6:00 PM PST.

Xblaze-Lost-Memories

A hero’s journey to the underworld is ubiquitous in narrative tradition. As far back as the third century B.C., the Argonautica detailed Orpheus’ decent to rescue Eurydice, returning his beloved wife to the world of the living. 2400 years later, protagonists continue to make downward pilgrimages to liberate their loved ones, as writers strive for new way to spin age-old yarns. With the release of XBlaze Lost: Memories for the PlayStation 3 and PS Vita, the team at Arc System Works adopts the structure of the Greek epic into visual novel form. Players are sent exploring a mysterious abyss known…

Review Overview

Gameplay - 80%
Story - 85%
Aesthetics - 90%
Content - 80%
Accessibility - 85%

84%

VERY GOOD

Summary : Whether you’re a hardcore Blaz buff or just a budding visual novel fan, XBlaze Lost: Memories delivers. The game’s mix of returning and new characters, along with alterative viewpoints on events works as both continuation and inauguration.

User Rating: 3.6 ( 3 votes)

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert ‘DesertEagle’ Allen is Tech-Gaming’s resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

60 comments

  1. The art looks very cool. Like right out of any anime.

  2. Do any of the Blaz fighters make cameos? I wouldn’t mind seeing Noel Vermillion or Celica Mercury.

    • These games take place 150 years before the BlazBlue fighting games. I’d love to see a VN based on the later years, though.

  3. Ok, so I see a lot of female characters have a bit of hair that stands up and looks like an antennae. What is that called and what does it symbolize?

    • It’s called “Ahoge” which means idiot hair.

      Originally, the term came from hairdressers who used it to describe an uncooperative hair that wouldn’t stay down. But in manga, anime, and games it now symbolizes a person of lesser intelligence or that’s naive.

  4. Would have loved to see this as a cross buy. Is there cross-save at least?

  5. Added to my Amazon wish list. Forget the waifu, I need a Sugar Mama.

  6. Another site said 15 hours in their review. Hmmm….

  7. I think you need to Blaze more and write reviews that don’t sound like boring ass college lectures. Quit trying to show off how smart you are. No one cares.

  8. You should have reviewed Steins;Gate. Great Vita VN. One of the best.

    • It hasn’t been released in the US yet. Later this month. EU got it last month, those lucky dogs.

  9. I loved XBlaze Code Embryo, just platted it a couple weeks ago. Would love to play this one.

  10. BlazBlue is my favorite Arc System Works game.

  11. Looks sweet. The first one was really good. Wish they would make a Guilty gear VN as that’s probably my favorite arc system game.

  12. Guilty Gear is still my all time favorite fighter!

  13. There will always be a place in my heart for Hard Corps: Uprising.

  14. Persona 4 Arena and its sequel

  15. I really like Guilty Gear. Probably played 300 hours of XX Accent Core for the PS2.

  16. Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is my favorite Arc System Works game.

  17. Mt favorite is an old one….Cyber Spin. Anyone remember that?

  18. My fav game by Arc System Works is BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger!

  19. Favorite Arc System Works game is Guilty Gear!

  20. Joining in! Really loved a couple of games from Arc Sys. Hoshigami remix for DS is one of my all-time faves back then. Loved the Guilty Gear series as well as Blazblue, but Guilty Gear first. Recently I’ve been enjoying Skullgirls.

  21. My favorite is Guilty Gear Xrd.

  22. Guilty Gear is hands down the best fighting game ever. Thanks for the interview with Daisuke Ishiwatari.

  23. Persona 4 Arena is my favorite Arc System Works game.

    Thanks for the chance!

  24. Guilty Gear XX is by far my favorite, lots of good memories with that game.

  25. Guilty Gear Isuka is one of my favorite games from ASW.

  26. I loved XBlaze Code: Memory and have been looking forward to more sweet Arc Systems XBlaze goodness :-).

    Thanks for the review too, I think the interactive graphic novel approach to gaming is cool and its good to read it takes a little deviation from the former games.

  27. Awesome contest! Embryo is my favorite Arc System Works game.

  28. Yea all about BlazBlue

  29. Not much of a fan of interactive book games, but it looks cool enough. My favorite Arc System Works game is Suzuka 8 Hours!

  30. Xblaze Code:Embryo is my favorite Arc System Works game.

  31. Guilty Gear XX

  32. blazblue

  33. Guilty Gear X2 is my favorite.

  34. My favorite game from Arc System Works is Double Dragon.

  35. My favorite Arc System Works game so far is Blazblue Continuum Shift Extend edition. It came with a ton of cool extras, my favorite being the soundtrack!

  36. Hard Corps: Uprising is my favorite Arc System Works game, but I’ve liked almost all of them that I’ve played. Would love to try this one.

    • Good choice, though the original Sega Genesis HardCorps will always be my favorite Contra.

      • Original NES Contra was my introduction and because of that it’s my favorite. I know the arcade version is superior, but I love the quality of the port. They nailed the mechanics.

  37. I loved guilty gear xrd

  38. Thanks for the chance to win a copy- my favorite Arc System Works game is Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus. Big fan of pretty much all their fighters, though.

  39. My fav? It’s gotta be Persona 4 Arena Ultimax!

  40. The BlazBlue series is my favorite from Arc System Works

  41. BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger is my favourite 🙂

  42. Oh Persona 4 Arena is hands down my favorite Arc System Works game

  43. Blazblue is my favorite.

    Thanks for the opportunity.

  44. I like most of Arc System Works fighting games, but I would say my current favorite is Persona 4 Arena. I own BlazBlue: Chronophantasma and Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, but I haven’t gotten around to fully playing those yet. If I owned it, my favorite would probably be Guilty Gear Xrd.

  45. I gotta say BlazBlue. That game really taught me how much dedication and time it takes to get into a fighting game.

  46. The Arc System Works game I’ve spent the most time playing is undoubtably Double Dragon, so I guess that makes it my favourite. 😉

  47. omg i won but did not reply in time

    which sucks

  48. To get to the bottom of the Phantom Field, players will control Me directly in the one real interactive part of the game. The Phantom Field is represented as a two dimensional map that the player can walk around in. It is the player s goal to collect four separate memory fragments, so they can then proceed to the next floor.

  49. Favorite is Arc System Works is BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger!