Chroma Squad for PC
Pixellated games in retro styles are one thing. Power Rangers homages are another. Mashing them together, however, creates something so new, so fantastic, you can’t help but chuckle and cackle with glee like the ooze.
When Chroma Squad graces your screen for the first time, you will laugh. Then you’ll curse. Then you’ll laugh and curse at the same time. This tactical RPG takes the genre for a crazy spin wrapped up in a super-sentai package, and it works beautifully.
Chroma Squad is developed and published by Behold Studios. Originally a Kickstarter project, it was swiftly Greenlit for Steam and now, almost two years after the project was launched, the game has seen its golden release. And the verdict is in: Chroma Squad was well worth the wait.
The premise of the game is simple: 5 stunt actors on the set of a Power Rangers-esque TV show get fed up with their director. They storm off and start their own indie studio in a warehouse owned by one of their uncles, and then the fun really starts. The player selects their cast of heroes from the available actors for each “class” – a permanent decision – and the road to stardom begins.
Players guide their merry band of action heroes through “episodes” of the TV Show with the goal not being to defeat the big bad. In Chroma Squad, the goal is: audience ratings! That, and profit. Each mission equates to the filming and broadcast of an episode, with performance in battle and completion of “Director’s Instructions” – special objectives – earning audience ratings. Audience ratings directly convert to cold, hard cash, so just beating the baddies is rarely enough to keep the studio afloat.
Battles are fought by the Chroma Squad with tons of the usual objectives: save the VIP, defeat all enemies, and such. Things get shaken up by Director’s Instructions: bonus objectives that are usually difficult to achieve but always grant huge rewards. Combat itself is standard tactical fare; however, the Chroma Squad gets to use Teamwork to make things a little more interesting.
Being based on the Power Rangers, and superhero shows of Japanese yore, Chroma Squad utilizes a Teamwork system. Members of the squad can boost each other’s movement, team up on enemies, and even heal each other. Better yet, they can also Chromatize. This equips their awesomely recognizable super suits and unlocks their skills for use, as well as adds the Finishing Move to Teamwork – great for flashy ends to episodes (and massive damage).
Back at the studio, the Chroma Squad rests up in between episodes and upgrades their studio and equipment with profits from the audience. Managing the studio is pretty hard work, overall. The actors need equipment and skill training, marketing for the show won’t run itself, and crafting supplies whilst balancing the budget for studio enhancements is a game in and of itself. Chroma Squad makes sure the player faces challenges both on and off camera.
Though managing the studio can get a little tiresome, the one thing that Chroma Squad ensures is that the player is always having fun. The writing and dialogue are deliberately campy, tongue-in-cheek, and humorous with no punches pulled. The game’s catchphrases and names can all be customized; players can have their superheroes shouting whatever they please when that Finishing Move fires off.
And with a groovy, funky soundtrack to match, the game’s visuals are simply wonderful. In glorious retro style, all the minicutscenes and story segments are well done; even combat feels like watching a Power Rangers episode (from an isometric perspective). The story itself is no pushover either, with branching narrative paths and a surprisingly intricate plot.
Chroma Squad can hiccup here and there with pacing, though. Having to go back to the studio and manage everything actually creates a bit of a break from the fun of shooting episodes. Though the game is a tactical RPG at its heart, those elements, like party management, almost seem out of place from the fun of navigating the story and fulfilling episodic objectives.
But at the end of the day, Chroma Squad is terrifically enjoyable. Fans of tactical RPGs will have oodles of fun, and those who also look fondly upon the youthful days of the Power Rangers will get an extra kick. Chroma Squad is definitely one of the better tactical games to come out recently,
Lights, camera, CHROMATIZE!