Review: Xblaze Code: Embryo – The Tale of the Grimoire Retold

A visual novel set in the Blazblue universe sounds like it would work considering how visual novel-ish the story mode in the games are. Xblaze Code: Embryo feels like a natural expansion of Arc System Works’ beloved fighting series, although it certainly does stand on its own merits.

The story focuses on Touya Kagari, a Japanese high school student who seems normal in the beginning but turns out to be anything but. Without spoiling anything, the story feels rich thanks to a large variety of villains and heroes, as well as the many different ways events can unfold.

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Xblaze plays out in a traditional visual novel way, lacking the interactivity of recent genre highlights like Danganronpa or the Zero Escape games. Players influence the outcome of the game by reading specific selections of articles from the game’s “TOi” device. Although this much is clearly explained at the beginning of the game, you’ll probably still end up simply searching for a route guide on the internet if you want to see everything.

Filling the story is a large cast of colorful characters, although several anime clichés are present throughout the game, not the least of which being the “ordinary Japanese high school student” bit. Arc System Works has a knack for crafting intricate and often complicated stories for their games and Xblaze is no different. The numerous factions, events, characters, objects and such can be difficult to keep up with as there are several, but the game makes an effort to assuage this with an easy to access glossary.

From a UI standpoint the game handles itself well on the Vita, when it isn’t bugging out (more on that later). A swipe down the screen pulls up the log, allowing you to read any text you may have missed.


Where the game really shines is with its alternate story paths. I say this because they’re more than just different endings, they really are different paths. Events played out so differently from one path to the next that I seldom felt like I was replaying a game (ignoring the first five chapters). Characters that were more or less meaningless to the plot in one path may be pivotal in the next path. In one path a character only hints at some sacred power they’re capable of, but in an alternate path we’re shown the power in full. This gave the characters a chance to really grow on me, even the likes of Mei.

Because of this, it also never seemed clear to me that there was any sort of true ending, and I came away unsure of what would be considered canon or what Xblaze 2‘s plot would look like but oh well.

As a huge Blazblue fan I could really appreciate the numerous references to items, weapons and even characters from the fighting series. In general I think any fan of shonen anime or manga will be able to easily enjoy the game’s story. There are several action scenes and the game remains mostly engaging.

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As I’m sure you’ve seen by now, Code: Embryo has beautiful artwork and I’m pleased to report that there’s no shortage of it in the game. The character designs are unique and distinct. There are tons of scenes and all the art you unlock can of course be viewed in a gallery. The game has a bit of harem thing going, making for plenty of gratuitous eating, bathing and swimming scenes.

I appreciate the effort that went into making the action scenes seem exciting and dramatic, but the lack of anime cutscenes really brought things down. Whenever things got really good and going I expected at least a brief cinematic (similar to those in the Blazblue series) but I never saw one.

The game has a great soundtrack, however. Much of it is ambient, especially the softer tune that plays whenever you’re relaxing and what not. It sounds like more an anime than a game and perhaps that’s appropriate. There are Japanese character voices and English subtitles, which I’m sure every fan of this sort of game was looking forward to.

The biggest complaints I can leverage against Xblaze are of a technical nature. Often I opened the TOi only to be greeted by scrambled text; some sort of glitch. There was also apparently an issue with a certain scene not playing. Finally, many times the touch screen controls all but ceased to function altogether, only returning to normal after a full reboot of the game. I played only the PS Vita version of the game so I don’t know if the issues persist on the PS3 version. Maybe the issues will be assuaged in a patch at some point.


I also had an issue with the speed of the skip function as it takes far too long. On my fourth time playing through the first few chapters (which can be avoided to a certain extent with careful saving on your first play-through) I don’t want to have to sit through sped up dialogue, I want to skip it. Even when being skipped it just takes too long to trek through previously read text.

You’ll definitely get your money’s worth out of Xblaze. Even without the backtracking, players can spend several hours unlocking all of the different story paths and after that, there are additional gag scenes and a gallery to keep you playing a bit longer. It offers about the amount of content you would expect from this sort of title, only with more meaningful alternate endings than I’m accustomed to. If you’re new to the genre, just recognize that you’ll do a lot less “playing” here than in other video games and a lot more reading.

Xblaze is targeted at a very specific gamer – one who not only enjoys Arc’s own Blazblue series, but also Japanese games in general, as well as shonen manga and action heavy anime. If that sounds like you then the gorgeous art, catchy soundtrack and layered story should be right up your alley. It’s not without some notable flaws, but there’s certainly a lot to enjoy here.

Join the Discussion

  • Budgiecat


    • PrinceHeir


      • Bugdiecat


        • Ari The Developer®

          Hi again.

  • Kuro-Law

    Day 1!

    • InfinityAge11

      Day 1 in the past, right? This has been out for a few weeks already.
      Unless you mean EU? I dont know the date for it there.

      • Kuro-Law

        I had no idea it was out. Haven’t seen it on the eu ps store. I thought it was coming 24th july like it says at the bottom.

        • InfinityAge11

          Unless thats an EU date, thats definitely a typo. The game came out *June* 24th, I got my copy in the mail on that day, too.

  • Alter
    Fantasy Hero (from Arc System Works too), I tried the demo, quite good. PSN only though. The full version also already out on PSN for around 2000 yen.

  • Porcu Peth

    dat second pic

    • erMonezza

      Ah, you like ‘girly’ looking boys, don’t ‘cha?

      But if you mean the 3rd picture, the bath scene, then I understand.

      Do you guys think that any ‘normal high school boy’, possibly a new transfer has all these freaky, supernatural adventures. There must be havok in Japan that we’re not aware of. Girls fighting with huge ass swords, wearing dresses with generous cleavage.

      • Black Heaven

        In anime logic, all “normal high school boys” are almost always guaranteed a supernatural encounter, followed by a quick rescue by a seemingly normal girl wielding giant sword / gun / magic.

        • Nicholas

          Sounds great lol

        • DevilMayCry898

          Now that I think about it: Its rare to hear: “Normal Highschool Girl” Followed by supernatural encounter, followed by a quick rescue by a seemingly normal guy with everything else you said.(I wanna see reverse harems for once!!! And I’m a guy but I’m tired of seeing dull guys!!! Any suggestions?)

          • Black Heaven

            There has to be one out there in the sea of anime.

            Also, there may be a reason why those kind of anime are scarce. It may be more of the boys’ fantasy (particularly japanese teens) to hope for something like this to happen in their lives.
            Just like girls’ fantasies likely involve vampires and werewolves. (Not speaking for all girls of course, just my perceived popular opinion) I don’t think guys would just like to have a staring contest all day with lady vampires. 🙂

            You. You look… familiar. 🙂

  • SaiyanJedi_Trunks

    I don’t play too much BlazeBlue but I love the way this VN sounds. The only negative to me is the glitches of course. The skipping is no big deal as I have dealt with that in almost every VN I have played. Sounds like a fun ride…especially with the branching paths.

    • Black Heaven

      A word of advice, if you’re aiming for platinum. I recommend saving in *every* chapter in *every* branch, and not just in the pre-branch key chapters. One trophy requires you to load from *every single* chapter 3 ~ 6 times in order to unlock all of the “Previously, on Xembryo!” portions.

      • SaiyanJedi_Trunks

        Thanks for the advice. I love to save often in these branching games. 3-6 times? lol

        • Black Heaven

          That’s what I did, and I regret that.
          I finished all major branches before knowing that I need to load from every chapter to get the platinum, and I feel too lazy to repeat everything again just to do that.

  • Mr0303

    I can see it is very plot heavy.

    • Black Heaven

      If you mean *those* things I am sorry to tell but there isn’t very much.

      The game isn’t much heavy on the fanservice so rest assured that they really are focusing on the actual plot (or at least, give them effort for trying).

      • Mr0303

        Nah, I believe you. I just made a joke.

  • jennifertdahlen

    Jacqueline implied I’m taken by surprise that a mom can earn $8130 in 1 month
    on the computer . see post C­a­s­h­f­i­g­.­C­O­M­

  • Joshua M

    Have completed the whole game, yes with guide lol
    I must say, the story is above average, not dissapointing indeed for a BlazBlue prequel.
    I wonder if there will be sequel tho’ , starting to like this more than BlazBlue.

  • Kazu171

    For your information. The true route for Xblaze: Code Embryo is the Es route. This is according to the actual Blazblue Wiki.

  • nonscpo

    That damm Toei system really did me in sadly I’ll have to replay the whole game 🙁