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Published May 16, 2015

All ratings are out of ten unless stated otherwise. Final rating is my personal feeling of a game, not a combination of the ratings I gave the other parts of the game.

This is my spoiler-free review of Chroma Squad, an indie tactical RPG based on sentai hits like Power Rangers and Samurai Flamenco. Strap in, cause it’s gonna get dirty.

STORY
I was never a huge fan of Power Rangers as a kid and didn’t care much for Samurai Flamenco when I watched it as a teenager; so, when I saw that this game was based on a sentai premise, I was wary of it. However, I had been looking for a good tactical RPG since I had played Divinity: Original Sin, and man did this game deliver. The story is about a group of friends who work at a Power Rangers sort of show who are fed up with their treatment at the hands of their director. They leave the studio and make their own studio in a storage warehouse. They begin their show and they are happy being their own bosses. After a while, they struggle with what you would expect: money issues, the lead actor being an entitled asshole, and deciding whether or not to sell out to sponsors. Eventually, the TV show takes a back seat to the true threat, which I will leave unnamed. This is the only part of the story that bothered me. It becomes a bit convoluted and muddied after the true threat comes in because your characters continue to talk about recording their show when there are much more dire issues afoot. That being said, the story isn’t anything special; it is a typical sentai anime style “friendship is power” story, but it was interesting and the characters drew me in. Story rating: 6.5

GAMEPLAY
There are basically two parts of this game that fall under gameplay: combat and non-combat. That seems obvious, but they’re equally represented, so I need to go over them both. For non-combat, there are a lot of things to go over, but I will try to keep it brief. When you aren’t in combat, you are using the money you earned to upgrade your studio or buy new armor for your characters. Now, keep in mind that this is an indie RPG; so, it won’t be as in-depth as a triple A title. There is a decent amount of customization. You can change your squad’s colors and names, as well as the names of your transformation and your mech. You can even change what they yell when they transform or get into the mech. That is the kind of nice touch that is appreciated in an indie title. Unfortunately, the list of skills you get to choose from is a bit small. Each character has about twelve skills as the game progresses. There are usually six new costume options and four or five new weapons after each season finishes that you can buy in the shop. There are also a few new options that you can craft using materials that you buy or get in combat. This adds some depth to the game, and allows you to customize your characters a bit further in how they look. You get to pick from four different choices per part of your mech. Each choice leads to buffs or skills for your mech. You can make it offensive or defensive, depending on what you prefer. Now for the combat.

The combat is great if you are a fan of tactical RPGs. You have to plan around your party and each character’s abilities. The scout can’t hit very hard; but, he can move more than other characters and he is good at dodging. The assault character is slow but hits hard. These differences cause you to really think about where you are placing your characters because, if you put them in the wrong spot, it can cause them to be knocked out. This will lose you fans. There were only a few battles that seemed unfair. Unfortunately, one of those battles is the final battle. I had to restart countless times and it took me close to an hour.

Mech combat is fun, if somewhat simple. You have an attack button and a defense button as well as buttons for the skills you have assigned. You and the enemy take turns attacking each other until you beat the enemy. It gets a little repetitive considering every battle goes pretty much the same way, but it’s still cool to see your giant robot fighting the enemy. Combat: 8

GRAPHICS
There isn’t much to be said for the graphics, but what can be said is mostly positive. There are plenty of terrible games out there that use 8-bit graphics as an excuse to be lazy. This is not one of those games. There is clearly a lot of work put into each sprite and pixel that makes up the game. It is 8-bit, but it is also high-detail. You can clearly tell what everything is supposed to be and any ambiguity left is usually a stylistic choice for suspense. I will knock it a bit for the use of the same sprites for enemies over and over, but being an indie game, I can’t fault it too hard. After all, graphics are expensive, and there are enough enemy variations to keep you entertained. The bosses all look superb and they are usually references to other shows or pop culture icons. Graphics: 8

WRITING/DIALOG
The writing in this game is nothing fantastic. But, if you’re expecting it to be Power Rangers-esque, that is exactly what you will get. It is predictable, but sometimes it’ll throw in a joke or two that makes you smile. The fourth wall is broken multiple times, and there are a few interactions with people (usually through letters or in game NPCs), who backed the game as a special shoutout. There are a few memes thrown in here and there which will make you groan, but the characters seem to know this and groan along with you. I’ve seen worse writing in bigger games, so, all in all, it’s not bad. Writing/Dialogue: 7

SOUND/MUSIC
The music in this game is fantastic. I immediately bought the soundtrack because I enjoyed it so much. Maybe I’m just a sucker for a good retro soundtrack, but this places among my favorite video game music of all time. Sound design is pretty good as well. Almost everything in the game has a unique sound to go with it, and they are all interesting and clear. Sound/Music: 10

LENGTH/REPLAYABILITY
The game took me around twenty-four hours to complete on the normal difficulty. I would say on easy it would be around twenty, and on hard it might be twenty-six or twenty-eight, depending on your skill level. Unfortunately, the replayability is fairly low, as there is only one linear story. Unless you really enjoyed it enough to try it on a harder difficulty, you’ll be hard pressed to squeeze much more out of the game. As far as an RPG goes, twenty-four hours is a bit on the short side; but, for an indie game, I would say that it’s an adequate length. Length: 8 Replayability: 5

Now with all the criticism I’ve given this game, you have to keep in mind that I still played it all the way through in a matter of three days. That’s eight hours a day. I really enjoyed this game, and I don’t like Power Rangers at all. You know a game is great when it convinces you to play it even if you don’t care about the setting. Overall I would give this game a 7.5/10. If you are a fan of tactical RPGs, Power Rangers, or both, this game is for you.
-Henry Schrader

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