By Skip Zepeda / April 7th, 2020
|RELEASE DATE||October 17th, 2019|
ORANGEBLOOD is the weirdest RPG I have ever played, and I’ve played a ton of them. The game takes place on an overcrowded man-made island of debauchery and sleaze called New Koza. This game is two parts gang war, one part cyberpunk. You play as Vanilla, a foul mouthed badass with a penchant for swearing and killing. She begins the game being released from a government detaining facility and is tasked with taking on a job for the “feds” to disperse the various mobs in New Koza. The Russians, Chinese,and Japanese mafia are all out here in various capacities just waiting for you to slaughter them and steal their cash. ORANGEBLOOD is developed by Grayfax Software and published by PLAYISM. Is ORANGEBLOOD your new favorite indie RPG darling, or something very neat that could have used slightly more polish? Let’s find out.
Firstly, let’s talk about the design. This game oozes style and has a hell of a time with a muted color palette. The girls all have bright anime hair and the hallways and buildings of debauchery glow red and purple and blue with fluorescence. The floors and combat areas are all paced well, optimally filled with scenery and background objects. Not too much is interactive but that is okay, the meat of the game isn’t hidden secrets. The enemies vary in style, from demons, to robots, to your usual thugs. I got a bit of a River City Ransom vibe at times from some of the enemies, which is always a welcome surprise. The screen can get pretty crowded especially when it comes to the maps. With buildings and areas so cramped together it became a chore to navigate in-between missions. I had a hard time finding out where to go at times and got turned around quite often. The music has this 90s hip hop vibe that is surprisingly good. It fits in well with the seedy and scummy style of the game overall.
The combat is a mixed bag. Combat is initiated by shooting or walking through icons on the map. Once in combat, the girls each have Hit point, Ammo point, and Special point bars that display the usual stats you will use. Some guns are single target and others are multi target so you will need to be careful depending on the enemy spread. Firing weapons depletes its AP, running out means you need to wait to fire again. The girls also have ammo personally and if it hits zero, you will be extremely vulnerable to enemy attack unless you spend your turn reloading. The SP bar is used for each of the girls support skills and fills as you take actions. Some skills have an effect and count as a free action, allowing you to act again, but others perform an action directly and take your turn. Most of the skills can’t be used again for quite a few turns after, so you should really save them for when things start to hurt. While I do appreciate the streamlined skill system, each character doesn’t have much to do in battle besides basic gun attacks, reloading, and their skills. There just simply isn’t enough here to get creative with your party and I would have really liked to dive deep into a system of gun customization. It’s a shame ORANGEBLOOD doesn’t have that many choices in regards to combat.
While combat doesn’t offer a lot of choice, the gear does, thankfully. Various items can change your skills and gear can offer crazy good combos at times, weapons can fire off more damage if your AP is full, or can fire at multiple targets at once. Some targets can take more elemental damage with the right gear equipped. Altogether though, enemies can be taken out with relative ease and your guns and gear are very randomized, which means your efficiency is at the mercy of RNG. There are some truly powerful weapon and gear combinations available if you can get lucky enough, but the game isn’t so difficult that you need to grind cash to buy something overpowered just to progress. You can progress well enough with practically anything of a certain quality. Gear is rather hard to come by though, I couldn’t quite figure out how to upgrade my stuff at level 10 and after a few drops from enemies, I discovered I had fragments I could use to unlock chests around New Koza, which lead to a chance at good equipment. Yes that’s right, chests lead to a game of chance and not explicitly quality gear every time. I ended up sinking almost all of my fragments for nothing, which was really frustrating.
The game is stocked to the brim with fetch quests from the various locals that act as an intermediary between the standard missions you will be sent on. I didn’t get a huge sense of a larger narrative other than the standard “we need cash, these guys are bad, let’s kill and rob them for money” loop. There isn’t an overall narrative to be had, you are just out here as four anime girls, fighting and looting and staying alive. ORANGEBLOOD does have a lot of mature things to talk about in between dialogue and missions. Mature themes such as violence, prostitution, and drug use are talked about, so this definitely isn’t a game for kids.
I enjoyed my time with ORANGEBLOOD. It is very rough around the edges and while the story is not a very optimistic one, the style and flavor that the world of hardened criminals and punk city aesthetic has going for it, is something I had a lot of fun with. I would like to see what the developers can come up with again though, maybe with a more cohesive story, a more likeable protagonist, or strictly speaking, more resources to make a bigger game in this style. I got plenty of hours out of ORANGEBLOOD. It took me about 12-15 hours to finish and 20 to complete those pesky chests and extra items to search for. With an asking price of $19.99 you will get your money’s worth in my opinion. This game was so close to being something really special, I urge you to give it a try if you’re intrigued by the setting or need an RPG with a different style going for it.
A review copy was provided by the publisher.