STAFF REVIEW of Chroma Squad (Xbox One)

Friday, June 16, 2017.
by Adam Dileva

Chroma Squad Box art I’m not going to lie. At first glance I expected Chroma Squad to be a cheap mobile-like game that was a clear knockoff of The Power Rangers. Granted, it does say it’s inspired by Power Rangers right on the title screen and doesn’t attempt to hide this fact by any means. I didn’t realize that it was actually funded by Kickstarter, almost doubling its asking goal too, so there was clearly some interest behind the concept when it was pitched to the masses. What I came away with was surprise. Chroma Squad impressed me with its mechanics, deep RPG elements, silly premise and writing. If Power Rangers was going to make a parody game of themselves, Chroma Squad would be that game.

The narrative revolves around a group of 5 stuntmen (and woman), the ones who play the Chroma Squad members in the TV show. Yes, in this game you’re playing as the stuntmen who act in a cheesy Power Rangers-like show. The actors get fed up with the terrible director and decide to not only quit on the spot, but create their own studio so that they can create the episodes they want, just how they want. With only access to a small and dingy warehouse, their company begins small, but as you amass a fan base and contracts, earning money in the process, their grand vision is your ultimate goal as you film from season to season.

You begin by choosing your actors, each with their own special abilities, specific play styles and pay grade. You need to fill each of the roles, like Leader, Techie, Scout, and more, just like how each Ranger in the show had their own specialized role. I was impressed with the vast options of characters to choose from, and once you make your choice you’re locked in, so choose wisely.

Once you have your crew hired and set you’re off to begin filming. You record episode to episode, each with its own plot and overarching narrative to the whole season. A season usually consists of two to four episodes, with each episode being a single set or even broke up into three mini sections, all of which revolve around battling a slew of minion monsters with a big boss battle at the end of every episode. It’ll bring you right back to your childhood if you’re in my age bracket, and the whole “we’re filming a TV show” twist was a welcome addition of humor, as the enemies are actors in costume as well.

What surprised me was the amount of text contained within, not that I’m complaining, as some of the writing is actually quite witty and funny, but after a handful of seasons, it feels like fluff to lengthen the gameplay. There’s a fast forward button you can hold if you wish to skip right to the fighting, but be sure to pay attention to the season finales, as there’s an overall arching storyline as well.

At its core, Chroma Squad feels like a watered down take on a Final Fantasy Tactics style of gameplay. You get to make your moves and actions with each of your characters, then the enemies get to react accordingly. Certain characters can move further than others, but there are also special acrobatic moves that allow one team member to be vaulted a few more spaces on the battlefield grid. You’re given multiple objectives per episode that will net you bonuses should you fill the requirements. Sometimes this ranges from killing X amount of enemies, or hitting a boss in the first turn, among others. I appreciated these small objectives, as it gave me a small goal to complete per episode, allowing me to try some different tactics that I wouldn’t’ have normally utilized.

After a certain amount of turns you’ll be able to morph into your power suits, er Chroma suits, allowing you to use special abilities, more of which unlock as you progress in your TV seasons. I ignored these abilities for the first while, but once I learned how useful they could be, I never looked back, using them whenever possible. The season will cumulate with the one thing the real show was best known for: giant robot battles. Sure it’s not technically a Megazord, but you’re robot fighting a giant monster, so we all know the truth. As seasons go on you’ll fight with it much more often which is always fun, doing massive damage in a timing skill based minigame.

Your main goal is to build up your audience, which in turn earns you more money. More money allows you to purchase better weapons, armor and robot parts. There’s even a crafting system built in from enemy drops that allow you to create upgrades for your squad as well which was quite unexpected, but welcome. You’ll eventually get tons of offers thrown your way from marketing firms, fans, directors, mysterious people and more. You’re also able to upgrade your studio, allowing for more earnings should you decide to spend your money that way instead.

I’m a sucker for anything Power Rangers related, and even though I unfairly expected the worst, I was more than pleasantly surprised. The small bite sized episodic format allows for quick gaming sessions, but the RPG elements make it deep enough to play for a longer stretch at a time if you desire as well. The whole ‘filming a TV show’ angle took me by surprise, but it works, as you can imagine some of these silly conversations actually taking place if you were to film your own Chroma Squad episodes. This homage to one of the classic kids’ shows was not only entertaining, but I wanted to keep 'filming' just one more episode to see what happens next in its retro representation.

Overall: 7.8 / 10
Gameplay: 8.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 6.0 / 10


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