It’s the end of the world as we know it: BlazBlue: Central Fiction Review

Posted in Kulturecade by - April 18, 2017

BlazBlue: Central Fiction is the distillation of all the usual Arc System Works hallmarks into a single package. The fighting is complex, the visual design is breathtaking, and the game is packed to the brim with content. How much you get out of said content is largely dependent on whether or not you’re a preexisting fan of the series, but either way, the amount of effort on display is staggering.

The story in Central Fiction is both straightforward and utterly convoluted. Obviously, sequels can only be so welcoming to newcomers, but the tale told here is especially obtuse. The basic plot is that a giant black sphere in the sky might be signaling the end of the world, but there are so many characters and lore details that the game assumes are already known to players that even that simple premise unravels fairly quickly. There is an optional 30-minute plot summary that players new to the series can sit through at the beginning of the story mode, but even that only gives the bare minimum of context necessary to understand proceedings. For what it’s worth, characters act as if certain events are revelatory, and it’s been said by others who are more well-informed than I am that this game could function as the end of the series, so long-time fans will likely enjoy this chapter of the BlazBlue story.

Whether or not the story means anything to you, the actual fighting mechanics in Central Fiction are certainly engaging. There are two methods of control to choose from: the standard control scheme, which grants full control of the various systems at work, and a “stylish” mode, a much-appreciated way to ease new players into the game without demanding complex inputs. There’s a lot to learn here, and between the various tutorials, story, arcade, versus, and survival modes, there is ample opportunity to learn each character’s unique quirks and strategies. Newbies can wade in with only a modicum of effort, but for fighting game enthusiasts, the sky’s the limit.

The final aspect of the game worthy of praise is the impeccable presentation. Even the menus in BlazBlue: Central Fiction are oddly beautiful, and every character has a unique style that instantly sets them apart from the others (there are also a few references to a certain anime-styled web series in the color palette options that did not go unappreciated by this writer). The animated cutscenes are also gorgeous, rivaling some actual anime in terms of quality. The visuals aren’t quite as crisp here as they are in the Persona Arena series, also made by Arc System Works, but that’s like saying that an “A” isn’t as good as an “A+.” Ultimately, strong art direction and a bold style eclipse the occasional low-resolution close-up of a character’s face.

BlazBlue: Central Fiction is a deep, visually striking fighting game that probably appeals to a core audience more than a general one. Anybody can pick up this game and appreciate its unique design sensibilities and mechanics, but newcomers shouldn’t expect to get anything out of the story (the lack of an English dub certainly doesn’t help). Still, BlazBlue: Central Fiction is a great game only held back by a copious amount of lore and a few nitpicks; if you like anime, fighting games, or both, it’s definitely worth checking out.

  • Release Date: 11/19/2015
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