The BlazBlue fighting game series has delivered flashy, frenetic action to anime fans for over a decade. Now, the beloved roster of pugilists enters a new battleground with BlazBlue: Entropy Effect. This fresh spinoff trades fists for swords, abandoning the fighter formula for roguelite dungeon crawling. For newcomers, that means procedurally-generated levels, permadeath runs, and incremental power gains through unlocks and upgrades.
Instead of combo chains, players hack, slash, and blast through hordes of enemies across a succession of biomes. Level layouts, items, and bosses shuffle into new configurations each run, keeping the challenge fresh. The action-platforming combat still captures BlazBlue’s signature style, with elemental effects and over-the-top special attacks straight from the source material.
While Entropy Effect merits praise for its kinetic gameplay, the setting and story fail to realize their potential. The BlazBlue characters feel divorced from the cyberpunk backdrop of the ACE program. Exposition-heavy visual novel elements stall the pacing outside actual runs. For fans hungry for more from Ragna, Lambda and crew, deeper ties to existing lore would surely satisfy. Still, with a compelling core combat loop and mountains of customization, Entropy Effect delivers a solid roguelite experience well worth the price of entry.
Hacking and Slashing Through Entropy
BlazBlue: Entropy Effect‘s bread and butter is its visceral, violently satisfying combat. Each of the ten launch characters wields their own unique moveset, bringing familiar fighting game archetypes like rushedown aggressors, zoning specialists, and stoic tanks into the fray. Players string together combos using weak and strong attacks, chaining hits with well-timed button presses to juggle foes. Special abilities add supernatural flare, with elemental and ethereal energy dancing around every exchange.
It’s an intuitive system of action and reaction, where familiarity with a chosen fighter’s repertoire of swords, guns, claws and more paves the path to mastery. Some characters focus on overwhelming offense while others set up calculated counters. Crunchy sound design and visual flourishes accentuate the impact of each blow during the fast-paced encounters.
While combat starts out simple, incremental upgrades build complexity run-over-run. Collected Potentials modify signature moves, augmenting speed, damage and utility. Talents add splash effects or bonus properties to attacks, rewarding skillful play with stacking damage multipliers. Quickly cycling between abilities to maximize these multipliers is crucial to surviving the onslaught of later levels.
Outside actual runs, a training room lets players test out fighters and abilities firsthand before committing to a build. Tailoring your hero to align with your own reflexes and style pays dividends. Experiment until you find a fun flow, then focus on refining timing and maximizing damage-per-second. With countless possible permutations for any one character, Entropy Effect offers bountiful customization for those chasing the optimum setup.
Of course, expect to fail a few times while seeking that perfect run. But with accessible lower difficulties and limited punishment for dying, Entropy Effect keeps the learning curve manageable for players of all skill levels.
Navigating a Glitchy Cyberpunk Dystopia
BlazBlue: Entropy Effect thrusts players into a far-future world ravaged by the mysterious “Entropy Effect” phenomenon. Little connects this sci-fi setting to the franchise’s main storyline. While series veterans will recognize the playable characters, any meaningful justification for their presence is absent.
As an artificial intelligence named ACER, players inhabit a robotic body and enroll in the ACE program, a virtual reality simulation that promises deliverance from Entropy’s wake of destruction. This mind training intends to develop resistance to Entropy’s corrupting effects so survivors might someday repopulate the decimated Earth.
Within ACE, ACER guides their assigned character, known as a Prototype, through randomized dungeon trials. Each successful run inches closer to unearthing ACE’s secrets – and unraveling the true purpose behind the mind training.
Peppered between expeditions, visual novel-esque dialogue scenes explore the last vestiges of civilization and wax philosophical about transhumanism. An initially sparse narrative gradually peels back one convoluted layer at a time leading up to the underwhelming endgame reveals.
While Entropy Effect teases an alluring cyberpunk mystery, most exposition lands flat. The BlazBlue fighters have no substantive role in events, existing only as playable avatars rather than actual characters. Side content expands their wardrobes but does little to ground them in this foreign setting or justify the naming convention. For all its style, Entropy Effect’s narrative leaves much to be desired.
Pixel Perfect Presentation
BlazBlue: Entropy Effect succeeds at evoking the style and energy of its namesake franchise through slick presentation. The 2.5D side-scrolling environments burst with color and effects, from neon-bathed cityscapes to lush virtual jungles. Clean textures and lighting sell the high-tech aesthetic of the ACE program visualization. Even mundane elements like menus and HUD elements mesh visually with the cyberpunk theme.
Character models reuse assets from BlazBlue: Central Fiction but remain as crisply detailed as ever at higher resolutions. Animations stay fluid even with countless enemies on-screen, and flashy particle effects accentuate the exaggerated special attacks. Playable fighters appear appropriately stoic or enthusiastic based on their trademark personalities. The smaller helper robots also brim with charm.
Crunchy, visceral sound design delivers all the necessary auditory cues for combat. Every clash of blades brings forceful feedback across a range of pitches. Voice acting only occurs sporadically outside of battle chatter, but bolsters the immersion when present. The synthesized, drum and bass-inspired soundtrack evokes the technological dystopia effectively, if somewhat repetitively. Menu themes would benefit greatly from more variance.
On the whole, Entropy Effect impresses visually and audibly. Presentation adheres closely to the established BlazBlue aesthetic with a fresh cyberpunk coat of paint. The style may not suit all tastes, but undoubtedly channels arcade-fighter pedigree into the roguelite genre. Both casual fans and veterans should appreciate the effort invested into Entropy Effect’s presentation.
Powering Up For the Endgame Grind
BlazBlue: Entropy Effect incentivizes repetition through robust metagame progression systems tied to currency rewards. Completing trials and challenges funds permanent upgrades to stats and abilities. Additional content also ungates over time by gathering rare Prototype Analyzers from elite enemies.
The main story mode cycles the player through various series of dungeon runs interspersed by plot. Each successful finish nets rewards to power up characters for the next, more difficult bout. Side quests also task players with achieving certain win conditions or hunting down specific bosses.
Maxing out a fighter’s level cap grants bonus perks for all characters, rewarding devotees who pour hours into individual movesets. Collectible outfits offer purely cosmetic flair once all other progression goals run dry.
The Omega Zones provide a welcomed change of pace from the core dungeon crawler with their sprawling, interconnect layouts. While the format mirrors a Metroidvania, negligible permanent unlocks diminish long-term incentives to explore every nook and cranny. Still, it’s a nice palate cleanser between traditional runs.
On the whole, while Entropy Effect’s incremental upgrades and new game+ elements enhance replay value substantially, the repetitive format still trends toward monotonous over longer play sessions. Outside of leaderboard chasing or self-imposed challenges, little persists to motivate players once the credit roll hits.
Of course, fans of fighting games and roguelikes should find plenty to enjoy in honing skills and optimizing builds long after. With ten unique characters boasting myriad ability combinations, the sheer amount of experimentation alone supplies hours upon hours of gameplay. For the more casual crowd, however, the post-game appeal may fizzle faster than the entropy effect itself.
Final Thoughts: A Strong Roguelike Debut
At $21.99, BlazBlue: Entropy Effect delivers sizable bang for your buck. The nuanced combat mechanics alone provide dozens of hours of replayable content thanks to varied fighters and customizable loadouts. Roguelike veterans rightfully expect deep build options and demanding skill ceilings from the genre, and on those fronts Entropy Effect checks all the boxes.
Yet more casual fans may bounce off the repetitive format once the story runs dry. Outside bragging rights for topping leaderboards, little persists to incentivize grinding beyond personal satisfaction. Then again, the focused dungeon crawling loop channels the arcade spirit of traditional fighting games – sharpening skills through repeated plays.
Comparatively, Entropy Effect sexualizes itself against contemporaries like Hades and Dead Cells with its more demanding combat and shorter individual run times. Less room for error places greater emphasis on mechanical mastery over lucky drops or meta progress to carry the player through. Whether this proves overwhelmingly frustrating or engagingly challenging comes down to taste.
In the end, BlazBlue: Entropy Effect best suits devoted fans eager to further explore the franchise’s lore and battle systems from a fresh angle. Newcomers may also discover plenty to enjoy from the sheer variety of abilities and tight platforming action, even if the narrative fails to resonate. For players craving a mechanically rich roguelike uncompromised by concessions to accessibility, dive right into the entropy.
BlazBlue: Entropy Effect
At its core, BlazBlue: Entropy Effect delivers a remarkably fun and addictive roguelite experience. The fine-tuned combat mechanics shine thanks to responsive controls and diverse fighter movesets. Customization options grant players the tools to tailor builds to their own reflexes and playstyles. Visually, the game pops with color, effects and a slick cyberpunk aesthetic even if the story fails to utilize its namesake cast meaningfully. Minor gripes aside, Entropy Effect gets far more right than wrong. Fans of the genre should find plenty to enjoy across dozens of hours of dungeon diving. For only $22, you'll more than get your money's worth out of this game if quick-hitting action platforming is your cup of tea. Despite a few glaring narrative missed opportunities, the gameplay itself gives a glowing recommendation.
- Satisfying, addictive combat system
- Great visual presentation and style
- Tons of customization and character options
- Accessible difficulty for roguelike genre
- Good replay value
- Story feels disconnected from BlazBlue lore
- Can get repetitive over long sessions
- Post-game content is limited
- Steep learning curve for complex systems