Welcome to New Koza.
Platform: Nintendo Switch (reviewed), PC, PS4, and Xbox One
Developer: Grayfax Software
tl;dr: Hardcore RPG
Price: £16 / $20
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Orangeblood is set in Okinawa during an alternate 20th Century; different from our current reality and tells the story of Vanilla, a foul-mouthed badass whose’s favourite things are killing and swearing. After being released from prison, she’s asked to do a job for the Feds which would split the town’s gangs. The Russians, Chinese, and Japanese Mafia are all patiently waiting for Vanilla to try and take them head-on.
The game features a turn-based combat mechanic. Given that instead of melee weapon your crew is equipped with some serious firepower, you have to keep an eye on your SP meter which is basically the reload meter. If you don’t time your reloading properly, your combo will end abruptly so the character can reload. Thankfully, if you feel underpowered and aren’t sure how to properly protect your crew, there’s an Auto-equip feature that will equip your team members with the optional, available, gear.
This game actually lets you see enemies on the map walking around allowing you to strategically avoid encounters if you are in a bad spot. Or try to creep up from behind to get the advantage. Much like seen in recent Persona entries, if you attack the enemy on the map, it will give you the advantage once combat begins.
The game feels a bit unbalanced. You’ll come across enemies that will wipe the floor with you; even same level enemy can kill your squad in one turn if they accumulate buffs. While in the same enemy party, you’ll have enemies that you can destroy in one turn. Feels like it would’ve been better to have fairly levelled opposition rather than either being too easy and too hard at the same time.
Once you die, you can either respawn at the closest checkpoint (yay checkpoints!) for a price… but with your team left with 1 HP, giving 0 chances to survive the next encounter. As with any RPGs, you can run from battle, but if you don’t move quickly on the overworld map after selecting Run, the battle will restart as the enemy remains on the map.
The overworld/city map is a multi-tier clusterfuck of confusion. Typical 16-bit RPGs’ overworld maps will have a single layer of navigation to ease finding your way. But in Orangeblood, there’s a few levels to navigate through and a lot (at first) of forbidden entries making it frustrating going from point A to point B. As with typical RPGs, you’ll come across NPCs that will give you requests to accomplish in order to progress forward.
The other problem with the overworld map is that some areas aren’t very well lit so it can lead to surprising encounters that can wipe your party in a matter of seconds depending on the enemy placement.
Another minor nuisance is that there’s no way to get a checklist of objectives to do. So if you quit playing in a different area than your objective, there’s no hint to remind you where to go meaning it’s easy to get lost and lose track of where you left things off a day, a week or a month ago.
Orangeblood features a dark, grey visual style that gives this RPG a unique feel unlike the traditional happy go lucky colourful 16bit RPGs; it’s a dark city where gangs run amock and it’s well designed here… aside from the clusterfuck of a map. Given the game was sold as a hip-hop RPG, the soundtrack features one of the best 90s hip-hop soundtrack/tracks I’ve heard in quite some time. Obviously, not everyone is a fan of the genre, but don’t let it deter you.
Orangeblood is an enjoyable and unique addition to the turn-based RPG genre. I can’t help but compare it a bit to the hard as nail Shin Megami Tensei series because it will require a bit of griding within the few hours so you don’t get run over and waste too much money.
- Great twist on turn-based combat
- Awesome soundtrack
- Feels a bit unbalanced
- Brutal right out the gate
Orangeblood is rated M for Mature and PEGI16 due to the presence of drug use, strong language and suggestive themes.
This review is based on a review copy of the game provided by the publisher