BlazBlue Entropy Effect Review
BlazBlue Entropy Effect is the latest standalone installment in the BlazBlue franchise. It strays from the guidelines of previous entries by being neither a fighting game nor a visual novel. Instead, it puts the iconic cast of BlazBlue into a cyberpunk roguelite. The result has some striking highs and equally striking lows.
The game takes place in a cyberspace called ACE, the last resort of a dying world. A user known as an ACER struggles to train their mind, uncover records of the past, and unlock a hidden truth. These goals are accomplished by playing as Prototypes–i.e. the BlazBlue cast–and battling your way through Mind Training sessions.
In true BlazBlue fashion, the story is very present but also very obtuse. The franchise’s plot has been notoriously difficult to understand since the original Calamity Trigger. Fortunately for newcomers, Entropy Effect is a standalone spinoff entry. Unfortunately, it has its own heaping helping of convoluted lore. The mysterious Entropy Particles, a fight against human extinction, and a dead scientist all play a key role in the mysteries of ACE.
Fast-Paced, Addicting Combat
The main star of BlazBlue Entropy Effect is the combat. And believe me, it deserves the accolades. Each character has a distinct playstyle, there are tons of moves to unlock, and everything is customizable. It combines the joy of learning a fighting games mechanics inside and out with the unpredictable thrill of a roguelite. Needless to say, I’m a fan.
Easy and Normal combat difficulties are available. You play through a selection of environments, fighting enemies and avoid traps, and overcome a boss at the end. Each run is fast-paced, intense, and plays out differently based on the upgrades you choose. Some combinations are far more potent than others. The runs are also just regular fast, generally topping out around 20 minutes. Perfect for bite-sized chunks of action. The fast pace encourages players to take risks and experiment.
This game has an incredible amount of replay value. I really enjoy the ability to borrow skills from previous runs with different characters. This is good, because advancing the story means replaying the same levels over and over. It would get repetitive without the sheer mechanical variety. You can also add additional difficulty before the run and apply or remove further debuffs through events. The result is an experience that can be customized to your liking. No matter how tough you like your roguelites, BlazBlue Entropy Effect has you covered.
The game also requires to do almost as much reading and combo memorization as the average fighting game does. And that is a surprisingly cerebral genre. If you’re not good at memorizing very specific button inputs and hitting them perfectly, this game is going to be frustrating. That said, the sheer amount of skills and tactics to unlock is delightful.
BlazBlue Entropy Effect is a Standalone Spinoff
I’m going to be very blunt here: this game is confusing. Knowing the lore of the main BlazBlue series is unlikely to help you understand BlazBlue Entropy Effect. The confusion comes less from the actual lore being overly convoluted and more from the intentionally obtuse presentation. The game begins with the tutorial for using ACE. What ACE actually is and the state of the real world outside its digital environment are revealed slowly as you progress.
As you proceed through the Mind Training, you gather Phenomena, visions of a world being choked by dangerous Entropy Particles. It slowly becomes clear that ACE and its Mind Training were created as a way to protect the human brain from the Entropy Particles flooding the Earth. But the world of ACE is full of secrets, and some people are willing to do anything to reveal them.
The game was definitely trying to lull me into a false sense of security along with the ACER. Unfortunately, the sluggish was often hard to tell what horrors I was supposed to be being distracted from. Also, despite having the BlazBlue cast be playable, this game is completely standalone. This removes the need to know all of the franchise’s complex lore.
However, it’s also disappointing. BlazBlue might be confusing, but it’s a fascinating story with a deeply dysfunctional cast. It’s a shame to see them reduced to set dressing.
A Glitch in the Matrix
BlazBlue has always been stylish, and BlazBlue Entropy Effect is no exception. The sound design is incredibly slick. The voice acting is solid and adds to the cyberpunk atmosphere. The character design reuses the franchise’s tried and tested cast with little to no changes. They’re very anime, but they fit nicely into the game’s gorgeous environments and the combat is genuinely stunning.
The little robots in ACE were absolutely adorable. I had a lot of fun zooming around as a little hoverbot. And there are a lot of visual effects designed to make the game’s environments feel virtual. They contrast sharply with the more realistic but still stylized graphics used during Phenomena sequences. I did miss the more orchestral sound of older BlazBlue games. This game has more of a modern cyberpunk techno feel. It’s not bad, but it is lacking some of the fantastical grandeur.
When I played BlazBlue Entropy Effect for review, I knew it was still in development. The 12-player multiplayer mode was still under construction, so I couldn’t try it out. I also noticed a number of bugs. Sometimes tutorial text would overlap with menus, making it hard to read. I had an NPC’s voice suddenly switch languages on me. Also, a few conversations with NPCs were still using placeholder dialog. All of these errors made the story harder to understand, but they didn’t impact gameplay at all.
All in all, BlazBlue Entropy Effect is a fun experience with slick combat. I just wish it felt like the BlazBlue title meant something. Right now, it seems like an unrelated game got put under the BlazBlue umbrella for marketing purposes. Oh well, at least Taokaka is still fun to play.
***PC code provided by the publisher***
- Great combat
- Tons of replay value
- Endless customization
- Slick visuals
- Incredibly fast-paced action
- Lots of small bugs
- Confusing story
- No real connection to BlazBlue