“XBlaze: Code Embryo” is the first real Japanese-style interactive novel I’ve ever played, and it’s well, okay. The main thrust of the gameplay is that you go through the scenes, but eventually things show up in your TOi (say that out loud as one word) and you can read them or not read them. What you read and don’t read has an impact on the scenes, and presumably on the path you end up taking through the visual novel, and thus on what ending you get.
Unfortunately for this game, I’m a voracious reader, and so will always read everything, which takes you down at least part of Hinata’s path, to an ending that’s a bit strange and that I’m not sure that I understand. But since Hinata was probably my favourite character anyway, that wasn’t really a problem for me.
The main issue is that while the “read articles to shape the story” approach is interesting, it doesn’t work for me. First, I’ll always want to read everything anyway. Second, because it encourages you to check the TOi as often as you can to make sure that you read what you need to read before the events come up, which takes you out of the story mode, as if you’re someone obsessed with checking your texts even while everyone is planning out what steps to take to stop the main issue. Third, it isn’t always clear before you read it what articles impact what people and events, and so focusing on a path is going to be hard unless you memorize the paths or use a guide. Fourth, the story itself isn’t fun enough to make it worth doing, at least for me, and the TOi mechanism itself isn’t fun. Thus, I find that I have absolutely nothing to do, and so all I’m really doing is reading a novel. If I wanted to just read a novel, I’d just read a novel.
Ultimately, the game is okay and was worth playing, and I might even try out some of the other paths later, but I found myself pushing through it just to finish it and see at least one of the endings, and don’t feel much incentive to try it again.