Lately, I’ve been sticking to games that I’ve played before – Football Manager on the PC, PES2017 and GTA San Andreas on the PS4 have taken up a significant amount of my time lately. I’m not sure if this is just because I’ve not really been inspired enough to play the games, or, more likely, I’ve been too lazy to try something new. However, after my PC decided to break, I went through my Steam library and queued up a few games that I absolutely must play, and Chroma Squad was at the top of that list.
Power Rangers meets Final Fantasy Tactics
The tactical RPG genre is a tragically underused genre. Games like Final Fantasy Tactics and the XCom series have utilised it to perfection, creating some absolutely fantastic games, but beyond these, there haven’t been enough attempts at the genre. That is, until recently, of course, with plenty of indie devs seeing value where the big developers can’t, and producing some top notch tactical experiences. Chroma Squad combines this great genre with a parody of everyone’s favourite childhood superheroes – the Power Rangers. Combining these two things is an absolute masterstroke, but a good idea still needs a bit of work to turn it into a winner. There needs to be solid visuals, great writing and very strong gameplay to make it all come together, and, fortunately for Behold Studios, Chroma Squad has all three. The game’s appearance is the best place to start, as it is absolutely stunning. Channelling a strong Super Nintendo vibe, Chroma Squad looks phenomenal with gorgeous 16 bit visuals throughout. The scenes and characters have so much charm to them, it’s impossible to not fall in love with the game just from how it looks.
“You should never judge a book by it’s cover”, as the saying goes, and even though the artwork is incredible, the gameplay and writing are also very strong. You’re put in charge of a team of five stuntmen who quit their previous job to create a whole new TV show, doing almost exactly what they did in their old job, but without the dictator-like director. You get to pick exactly who is in your squad from a selection of around twenty different characters, from beavers to basketball players to robots, each who come with their own benefits and talents. The battle mechanics are really fun, and very simple to get to grips with, but the best part of it is that it plays out how you’d want an episode of power rangers to go. You can battle in your civilian clothes until you feel the need to go chromatic, at which point you’ll morph into your various colourful uniforms and beat the custard out of the villains you face. When it comes to upgrading your rainbow warriors, you can do so in a number of ways. You can buy them new props to use on their outings, upgrade your television studio to provide background buffs or even use marketing teams to boost your audience rating and fans.
Although the writing is let down by a few typos or broken English, it is still great. Having a story to fit in with owning and running a power rangers-esque television show is one that probably writes itself, but it’s really well done here. Overblown in the best ways, with top humour throughout, Chroma Squad really delivers on it’s premise. Each ‘phase’ of the game are set out in the form of television seasons, with each having a number of solid episodes that are all wonderfully penned.
It’s difficult to come up with a downside for Chroma Squad, but if there was one, it’s that it spreads itself a little too thin at times. Tactical elements are a bit light, RPG elements are fairly non-existent but the worst bit is the mecha battles. While the standard battling is good fun, the mecha battles are ridiculously anticlimactic. After a stunning, hard fought battle with a bunch of felonious hams, you want the climax to be epic. When you climb into the massive megatron-looking robot, you get the impression that it definitely will be, and fighting enormous monsters while trying to minimise damage to the town seems like an epic conclusion to any battle. If that was implemented, then it certainly would be amazing. Unfortunately, what we’re treated to is a timing based battle where you have to click at appropriate times to attack and minimise damage received. Instead of being a legendary battle between two godly beings, you’ve got the most dull and mundane way to finish the episode off.
The Final Word
Almost everything in Chroma Squad hits the mark perfectly. Some bits are a little off, but they definitely don’t detract from this glorious, addictive and incredible experience. If you’re a fan of tactical RPGs or Power Rangers, this is definitely a game you need to pick up. Definitely one of my favourite games I’ve played this year, and it’s definitely inspired me to try and get through a bit more of my back catalogue on Steam! Hopefully the rest will be as wonderful as this game!