Code Embryo: Nope.
Avaliado nos Estados Unidos em 15 de agosto de 2014
I purchased this game at the same time I purchased my PS Vita, excited for a new way to play on the go. Code Embryo is a visual novel, and I was hungry for a visual novel, as I hadn't gotten to play one in a while. For those who are unaware or unsure, a visual novel is like a choose your own adventure story with character images and voices. There is usually very little gameplay in visual novels, just decision making and reading. So let that be a warning to you. If you do not like reading and are not a fan of anime, you will not enjoy this game, and it is absolutely not worth forty dollars.
I, however, read a lot. I also really like anime, so visual novels are a lot of fun for me. But not Code Embryo. This game takes everything that is important to a visual novel and throws it right out the window. This type of game relies enormously on the quality of its characters and story, with music and voice actors following a little ways behind. It is with no small amount of disappointment that I say every last one of those things in this game are underwhelming at their best. To make things even worse, however, is that they take away the core feature of the visual novel, choice, and replace it with a stupid, unforgiving gimmick. I break it down in detail below, with only very minor spoilers to the introduction.
Story: The story is about a seemingly ordinary high school student who lives with his childhood friend and her cute older sister. This character happens to get attacked by a random villain and, subsequently, rescued by a pretty girl with awesome powers who then immediately starts living with him to protect him from these 'monsters' called Unions. The story then slowly begins to unfold, revealing more and more uninteresting plot points at a surprisingly stale clip. I sunk hours into this game (in an attempt to validate my spent money) trying to find some sort of connection or deepness to the story, but it was a wasted effort. Even at its peaks, this story is lower than the valleys of more interesting games/movies/books/any kind of media.
Characters: This category is so important for visual novels that I can't stress it enough. In any type of game it helps to have strong characters, but it doesn't HAVE to be make or break if the rest of the game is enjoyable. for a VN, though, you really need good characters. Code Embryo gives you a handful of rehashed stereotypes and forgettable cookie cutter personalities that (thankfully) vanish from the mind as soon as they leave the screen. The character designs, for the most part, are eye catching and interesting. Sadly, that is the only thing about these characters that is. The main character, especially, is so gratingly annoying that he detracts from almost everything around him. The story, it often felt, was driven by his incompetence and everyone else begrudgingly explaining to him what the heck was actually going on. It was like getting hit in the face with an information hammer over and over again when all I wanted was them to hit him with a real hammer. Looking past him, the rest of the cast was also stunningly plain and uninteresting. If you've watched even a handful of anime, you have met all of these characters in a VASTLY improved setting and with VASTLY improved personalities. I am not understating this.
Music and voice actors: With the exception of two or three (three being the definite ceiling), the voice actors are not all that good. Or maybe they are elsewhere, but certainly not here in Code Embryo. The language is all spoken Japanese with English subtitles. I often prefer the original Japanese to the English dubs (with a few notable exceptions), but this just wasn't very good. A couple were like nails on a chalkboard to me, which is extremely rare. You are given the option to disable the voices of your choice, but honestly that's just removing yet another feature in an already barren landscape. The music, too, is nothing more than background noise with little else to offer. Not one track is hum worthy, and as I sit here writing this I can't recall a single song. Oh, wait, I remember one. I hated it.
And now we come to the gameplay. As I wrote above, the gameplay to visual novels generally consists of making decisions in the game and then watching how the story unfolds in response to your decisions. But not in Code Embryo! They decided to try something different and introduced the Toi system, which is this new-age device that the main character has. It collects articles from the internet based on your previous readings and interests, and you read these articles as the story progresses. If you have read a particular article on a pudding sale, for example, you will witness a short scene where two of the characters are shopping for pudding. If you didn't read that article, you won't see that scene. Yep, that's how that works. Also, for some reason, not seeing that scene (or some other random conglomeration of viewed or missed scenes) will result in your death. It took a lot of intermittent saving and loading, indiscriminate article selection, and sheer luck to get anywhere. There is never a clear indication of what went wrong or where. If you died, it could have been because you did or did not read a particular article (often in conjunction with another article) hours ago. Good luck figuring it out. After a certain amount of time had been dumped into this fiasco I went online and found a walkthrough just so I could slog my way through and at least collect some trophies. Sad.
I normally don't buy games for full price unless they are awesome, but I let my desire for a new VN (and a desire to support the VN genre) blind me. I bought a game that I had read some pretty negative things about because I thought 'it can't be that bad, they just don't know what they're doing. It's just not the right game for them'. I was mistaken. The bad things you read about this game are true. I would not buy this game for half price, and neither should you. I want VNs to be successful here in America, but the truth is that it's this kind of game that makes that impossible. It is a disappointing smear on the genre, and a head-scratching port selection. I am literally the target audience for this game, and I assure you that it is better left on the shelf.
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