Chroma Squad Review
Before I played Chroma Squad, I imagined that the game would let you design the episodes for a Power Rangers inspired show: choose a boss, choose a setting, and maybe get to do some type of editing mini-game. Instead, Chroma Squad uses the TV show setting as part of the plot and as an abstraction of common strategy game elements: experience points are audience members, new skills are dished out every season, and the battles taking place are being filmed for the episodes within the game’s world. In some games, these sort of artistic abstractions serve as a thin mask stretched over common elements and tropes, and what seem to be fresh ideas are eventually revealed to be old hat. But Chroma Squad’s TV show setting is so well done that it makes the game feel fresh and different, despite the fact that almost all of the gameplay elements have been seen before in strategy games.
Chroma Squad’s Power Ranger television show setting permeates through all of the gameplay and story. The dialogue is playful and quick, the boss designs are as enjoyably stupid as they were in the real Power Rangers, and the secondary combat mode, where you fight your mech versus giant versions of the boss, is a really nice change-up from regular combat. The pixelated art style is complemented by a palette of bright colours and smooth animations with nice subtleties to them. Episodes serve as perfect frames for the short battles and seasons serve as nice partitions for the plot. You’ll get to choose who your actors are and Chroma Squad’s fourth-wall breaking is both funny and a reminder that the setting is a TV studio. All in all, the game’s art, writing, and gameplay are a jovial marriage of Power Ranger homage and a television studio setting.
The battle system isn’t revolutionary in Chroma Squad but it remains interesting for an entire playthrough of the game, which takes about 15 hours. Chroma Squad boasts a “teamwork” action for characters, a turn-ending move that allows characters to travel further on the map or team up for more damaging attacks. Certain tasks from the director will reward you with more audience members, especially if you can finish the boss character with a full five-person attack. As for skills, your five actors will get a choice of new skills at the start of each season and their roles can be further specialized by weapon and armor selection. The combat is more simple than it is complex, but you’ll get enough equipment and skills to play around with for at least one playthrough. Since skills can be changed at any time, you are never really locked into a role for a character. Additionally, a crafting system lets you create unique equipment for your team, furthering your ability to specialize a character since equipment will give boosts to stats such as critical chance or health.
Almost none of these elements are revolutionary or even unique when you compare Chroma Squad to other strategy games. But that’s okay. Chroma Squad is fun not because it plays with my expectations or because it surprises me. The game is fun because it delivers an enjoyable strategy game experience in an incredibly well put together and fun setting. Similar to the show that inspired it, Chroma Squad is ripping at the seams with personality. The game does not take steps forward for the strategy genre. Instead, it stands tall in a skin-tight neon suit, ready to kick some ass.