Chroma Squad has been on my ‘to-play’ radar for a while, purely because of the exciting blending of genres and premises that it promised. You essentially play as the Power Rangers, in a turn based tactical blend of the likes of X-COM or The Banner Saga, the unique thing here is that the titular squad aren’t real heroes, they’re stunt actors in cardboard suits. That’s where the game gets really unique, because you’re not controlling the squad to protect the world from evil, you’re controlling them to maximise TV ratings, get sponsorships, and grow your fanbase.
Such a mishmash of concepts could be muddled and confusing, but it’s executed to near perfection here. The combat is deceptively deep, with each new season offering new abilities and new items to equip to switch up your strategies. It also offers interesting ways to use the team work of your Chroma Squad. Each squad member can use a teamwork ability, which ends their turn, but renders them ripe to join in on a teamwork action with another member of the team.
Your support member will heal any adjacent team member when team work is active, and your other members can either be used as a launching board to throw another member to far away enemies. Or, they can team up for team attacks that do bonus damage. Every team mate adjacent to an enemy with teamwork active will join in on a group attack, and having all members nearby will active a special Chroma attack which does massive damage. Perfect for finishing off the boss in classic Power Rangers style.
Each episode also has different bonus objectives in the form of director’s instructions. These will net you extra audience members and income if you can manage to do them. They’re a great way help mix up the battles, as they’re often fiendishly difficult, and there’s a surprising range of them too. Some missions might call for you to not hit the boss until all other enemies or defeated, others might call for you to perform three team attacks, or finish the boss with your special move. They add extra variety to a combat system that’s already a lot of fun.
Chroma Squad doesn’t get tied up in hit percentages or action points, and it’s all the better for it. Each squad member can move a certain amount of spaces and attack, and you can use your team abilities to get you further. Each role can equip different weapons and get new abilities as they move through the seasons, and these all recharge on turn by turn cool downs. Armour and weapons can be crafted from items dropped by enemies or bought from the shop, and it’s a lot of fun to recycle old material and upgrade your materials between episodes.
The studio management between seasons is a lot of fun as well. Upgrading the studio will cost you money up front, and a little extra moolah between each episode, but they provide extra perks in battle, and you can see your studio improve as you buy each new feature. Once you unlock marketing, you can hire an agency to provide you with certain perks in and out of episodes that will boost your audience, your income, or your battle prowess. You also get a kick ass mech, which you can upgrade too.
Chroma Squad also has a great sense of humour, with hilariously low quality bosses and enemies cobbled together from household items. Even your first armour and mech components are just cardboard boxes. The dialogue in episodes and in between is a lot of fun, with tongue in cheek pastiches of the best Power Rangers tropes, and some hilarious forth wall breaking. Between episodes, you see tweets about your show from fans that change depending on how you performed, and you’ll also receive random emails in your inbox running from threatening messages from your old producer to bizarre exchanges from fans.
Chroma Squad has a great art style and a central concept that is so original, it’s a miracle nobody else thought of it first. All of that wouldn’t matter, however, if the game itself was lacklustre. As it stands, there’s a surprising level of depth to the combat and the systems around the studio management that make everything about the game immensely fun. Upgrading your set up is great, powering up your gear is exciting, and each new episode offers hilarious dialogue, situations, and increasingly complex battles and abilities that are just a sheer joy to get to grips with. I can’t recommend it enough.