XBlaze Code: Embryo: Less fighting, more writing

July 10, 2014


Arc System Works is known, at least in the West, for its anime-style fighting games. With XBlaze Code: Embryo, though, it’s dipping into another side of one of the BlazBlue universe, straying away from intense combat and floating into the gentle waters of the visual novel. Despite the fresh (to us) approach, is XBlaze worth the journey?

XBlaze takes place 150 years before the events of the BlazBlue series. Although there are a couple of references and terms taken from the source material, playing the fighting series isn’t necessary to understand what’s going on here. You follow the story of Touya Kagari, a mild-mannered high school student working a part-time job at a curry restaurant to support himself. He has two roommates: Hinata and Yuki, two friends from his childhood at an orphanage.

Yokozaki City is slowly growing more dangerous by the day, as murders and disappearances become a common occurrence. With the police baffled at what’s going on, an influential company known as the Mitsurugi Agency steps in. Considering its ties to many government agencies, it has the power to solve the mystery of these occurrences. Our protagonist suddenly finds himself involved with this agency, after his curiosity gets the best of him after leaving work one day. Following a bell sound that wouldn’t stop nagging him, he’s suddenly attacked by monsters known as “unions” that possess immense power. Unions were once humans, but were infected by a rare crystal that causes the possessed to lose their humanity with repeated use of their powers.


Touya finds himself saved by a mysterious girl named Es who works for the agency as a soldier, and soon finds herself as his bodyguard. Upon learning that the tragic event that orphaned him is connected with his recent encounter, he decides to work with the Mitsurugi Agency to learn the truth.

Despite the overabundance of action, murder and well-drawn anime scenes, XBlaze remains a visual novel. This game is all story, with your choices ultimately influencing the ending, so there are no action sequences at all here. Unlike most visual novels that give you “choose your own adventure” prompts during certain points in the story, XBlaze changes it up a bit by introducing their “TOi” (Technology of Interest) system. The TOi provides the user with articles based on selected interests. In Touya’s case, it’s mainly current events and things related to the tragedy he survived. Articles you read trigger additional scenes within dialogue sequences, or change the direction of the story altogether. The game does have different endings, so multiple playthroughs are a must to achieve everything.


Aesthetically, the game’s of the high level of quality you’d expect from Arc System Works. Highly detailed characters are a standard for the developer, and it’s almost expected that a game it releases looks this good. Adding to the high production values are fully-voiced characters, though those looking to listen to this as an audiobook are out of luck, since only the subtitles have been translated from Japanese.

XBlaze Code: Embryo is definitely not your normal game. Those looking for continuous action would be wise to stay away, but if you want to immerse yourself in an intriguing story and learn a little bit more of the BlazBlue universe (and you wouldn’t mind doing a lot of reading), this could definitely be up your alley.

Pros: Great visuals, multiple endings, interesting choice system
Cons: Questionable material at times, niche-within-a-niche appeal

Score: 3/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.