BlazBlue Entropy Effect Review: A Rogue-like Adventure with a Familiar Roster
Before I get into this review, let’s just be clear that BlazBlue Entropy Effect is not an official entry in the BlazBlue series. The anime fighter is known for its attractive roster of characters and exceptionally confusing narrative. On the other hand, BlazBlue Entropy Effect is a roguelike action game that has an equally as confusing story but only really uses the roster of BlazBlue for gameplay, leaving the narrative elements and worldbuilding to occur within this original adventure. With that preamble out of the way, regardless of whether BlazBlue Entropy Effect is a BlazBlue game or not, it’s a hell of fun.
Narrative Meets Gameplay: The Unique Storytelling Approach of BlazBlue Entropy Effect
BlazBlue Entropy Effect is an excellent showcase of the best aspects of the roguelike genre, expanding core features tenfold to deliver an addictive action experience.
BlazBlue Entropy Effect’s story focuses on a technological world controlled by robots. Through flashbacks and collected spheres, you can uncover what exactly happened to humanity and how to let it happen again. Bordering the themes of fantasy and sci-fi, the dialog can get pretty long-winded, as you’ll receive a nice dose of lore dumped on you at every milestone. Luckily, you can replay important scenes in case you missed anything. The story unfolds as you collect objects of interest through the roguelike stages. This creates a nice balance between narrative and gameplay, but as previously mentioned, this art is explicitly related. Given that you play as an adorable flying robot head between runs and BlazBlue characters during gameplay, it’s really tough to feel connected to the dialog.
I just felt like that roguelike nature leaves you way too tense to want to sit through lines of dialog and exposition. While conversations were happening, all I wanted to do was get back to the roguelike action. The characters were talking about something sci-fi-related, but I was too busy strategizing my next builds and how I could improve in my next run. So, at some point, you may have to decide which aspect of the experience to invest yourself in. For what it’s worth, there’s a decent amount of things to do outside of the roguelike portion as you interact with the world and assist other robots, but it does become tough to match the excitement that the action-centric gameplay leaves you with.
Mastering the Combat: Building and Defining Characters in BlazBlue Entropy Effect
So, let’s get into the gameplay. Once you enter the simulator, you can choose from a list of 10 playable characters. I would say choose wisely because you’ll unlock more slowly over the course of the game. I also mention this because each character has unique abilities that tie to what is known as “Potential.” These are the skills that really define each character and enhance their usage in fights with unique actions and stackable elemental properties to really define their playstyle. It’s through these unique abilities that you’ll want to define your approach to gameplay. Given that this is a roguelike, expect to die a few times, but don’t worry, your character’s core ability and level are retained to Fuse into other characters for future runs. This allows you to have access to a tree of abilities from up to two other characters to improve your runs and fine-tune your build. As you progress, more options and skills can be retained, making it necessary to explore all characters and see which works for you.
BlazBlue Entropy Effect stands up next to the best of the best within the genre, with a combat system that is incredibly responsive and varied.
So once you choose a character, you begin your run. Although there are some procedural elements found during each run, the themes of the game remain, so the early stages and enemies may become repetitive, especially if you aren’t making it to the later areas of the game. Normal gameplay plays out similar to an action side scroller where you only have to move to the right of the screen. However, level gimmicks and traps make traversal pretty fun as you navigate the stages and take down enemies. The requirement to progress to the next area is to take down all enemies, so let’s get into the action.
Combat Excellence: The Responsive and Diverse Gameplay of BlazBlue Entropy Effect
From an action gameplay standpoint, BlazBlue Entropy Effect stands up next to the best of the best within the genre. This game’s combat system, no matter which character you gravitate towards, is incredible. Every character showcases a unique playstyle that is further defined within each run. The character builds are fascinating as you can focus on adding extra damage to specific attacks, summing ice, fire, and even slime, or even triggering an attack after a dodge or special is used. Many of these traits are statable, meaning if you want to focus on an Ice build that Freezes enemies and causes multiplied damage along with the ability to summon homing ice spikes, you totally can. The same can be said for Shadow and Poison builds. I can’t think of a run where I was faced with the same choices to make, but thankfully, the game is sure to tell you which upgrades you haven’t used yet.
The result of all this is one of the most addictive roguelikes that I’ve played since Hades, but its combat systems are on a whole other level. The responsiveness of actions is commendable, where dodging and navigating the environments becomes an extension of your button presses. The more you play, the more muscle memory takes over as you take out groups of enemies and avoid getting hit. I still remember the time I was able to take down a boss in one cycle, which was mainly because the build I had that run was extremely powerful.
The character builds in BlazBlue Entropy Effect are fascinating, allowing players to focus on unique abilities and playstyles.
As you travel from room to room, you’re offered 1 – 3 optional routes that lead to either more training, resting, black markets, short roulette mini-games, or even special quests. As you travel, your character begins to suffer from Entropy sickness, which does have an effect on runs, but you can lower this by resting. Further, healing during a run is pretty limited, so be sure to collect HP or complete healing missions as often as possible to stay healthy. As you progress, you’re able to unlock more healing potions, but those are still limited in use.
Redefining Roguelikes: The Comprehensive and Addictive Experience of BlazBlue Entropy Effect
After a certain point in the game, you enter a Metroidvania-esque map with branching tunnels called the Space Omega. From here, the game really challenges the player. While early bosses may become repetitive, there are a few antagonist boss encounters with other avatars that up the difficulty in most situations. This portion of the game breaks up the repetitive nature of the early runs and makes it feel like you are actually making progress. As you complete stages, you’ll eventually progress the story, but each run opens up new means of base stat upgrades for you to choose from. So, regardless if the gameplay and story don’t directly connect, the progress made during gameplay consistently opens new means of upgrades to get further.
If you haven’t caught on by now, BlazBlue Entropy Effect is a packed game with systems that extend past the scope of this review. However, what I can say is that even after 20 hours, I was still discovering new gameplay systems and builds that I hadn’t played with before. The launch out of Early Access has also opened up new story chapters and even an online mode to show off your skills to others. If the presentation is something you were curious about, I never encountered framerate issues or lag; the experience overall has just been a huge positive.
BlazBlue Entropy Effect is an excellent showcase of the best aspects of the roguelike genre. It takes the core features and expands on them tenfold to deliver only an addictive action experience. Repetition should be expected, and although early boss battles overstay their welcome, they really find their footing after you progress past the opening chapters. So, even though this isn’t the BlazBlue we’re used it, Entropy Effect respects the series’ characters by retaining what makes them so beloved.
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