Slang And Swearing Only
HIGH Pixel Neo Noir looks great.
LOW Lackluster and inconsistent combat.
WTF The number of memes.
What do you get if you mix gangster rap, neon lights, and Japanese girls with gun fetishes? Probably something very similar to Orangeblood.
In the city of New Koza, we find Vanilla — a former gunslinger released from prison and wanting to get out of the mercenary life for good, but of course it won’t be that easy. She soon gets mixed up with Russians, Yakuza, lackluster combat, and dialogue that seems like it was pulled from the dregs of internet forum comments.
Orangeblood is a 2D turn-based RPG where players control Vanilla and her teammates. Players can explore New Koza and gain money for new guns, armor, and gear by completing quests and defeating enemies.
When traveling on the map, touching enemies initiates combat. During encounters, characters have action points (AP) and special points (SP). AP acts as bullets for guns and also allows standard attacks to happen. SP is earned as characters deal and take damage, and is used for special attacks. If a gun runs out of ammo, characters will have to spend a turn to reload, which will also leave them easier to hit for that round.
The gun a character has equipped determines how they’ll attack and what kind of damage they can do. Assault rifles hit a single target for average damage, while a shotgun hits all enemies. Elemental effects like frost or fire can give extra damage or stun enemies. The variety of guns give players options in how they want to fight.
Unfortunately, while this seems like a good starting point for play, the combat was inconsistent and unbalanced. For example, other enemies nearby don’t stop moving when starting a fight, so there are many times when battles happen back-to-back without a chance to move away or heal, and it’s not possible to heal in combat.
Also, I would battle similar sets of enemies with the same equipment and get wildly different results. One fight would see my characters dealing thousands of damage, and in the next identical battle, they’d only be dealing hundreds. Boss fights would sometimes grant the enemies three or four attacks per turn, easily melting the player’s party. Thankfully, losing a fight just means losing money (which is abundant and mostly useless) and players keep experience and levels earned.
As far as Orangeblood‘s RPG elements like stats and levels go, it felt like having numbers for the sake of having numbers. Stats for the guns frequently went off-screen and were unreadable, and it wasn’t easy to tell how the game determined which was better than the other. Character levels seemed to also mean nothing – when taking on enemies five levels ahead of me, and it was a coin toss whether I would one-shot the group or whether it would be a slog lasting multiple rounds.
Narratively, other than knowing I was supposed to infiltrate the lower tunnels of New Kozma, the story and worldbuilding is light. Apparently something’s happened to Earth but Vanilla doesn’t care to learn anything outside of what’s necessary. Instead, she’s busy acting like a gangster, swearing, using dated slang (That’s Hella Wack!) and generally speaking like a Reddit comment section. “I’m super cereal” and “There’s no way I’m sharing a room with a useless thot” are just a couple of the script’s greatest hits. Honestly, the dialogue grew old after the first hour and never got any better.
Reservations aside, my love for indie RPGs pulled me through and I did have an appreciation for Orangeblood‘s pixel art and catchy soundtrack. It definitely has some personality and it’s worth a look as an oddity, but it’s just a shame that the combat doesn’t support the experience.
Disclosures: This game is developed by Grayfax Software and published by Playism. It is currently available on PC, PS4, and Switch. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the XBO. Approximately 6 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated M and contains Strong Language, Use of Drugs, and Suggestive Themes. Vanilla and crew like to swear frequently and often. There’s a lot of gang violence, red light districts, and there’s an arc when players will take over a bakery with “high class flour”
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: All information is provided via text, but there is no option for resizing or altering text. There are no audio cues needed for gameplay. This game is fully accessible.
Remappable controls: This game’s controls are not remappable.
While Sonic and Street Fighter were great places to start, his first love was Final Fantasy X when his dad bought a PS2. Ever since, that love for gaming has evolved -- there are a number of game worlds out there, and he intends to explore them all. RPG to horror, platformers to casual and everything in between -- if it’s available, he’ll play it.
While his time is short between writing reviews, tabletop gaming, and attempting to start a cheesecake business, he has caught all 806 pokemon and can speedrun Star Fox 64 in less than 40 minutes. He’s always looking for new things to try and new challenges to conquer. You can find him on Twitter -- @eugene_sax.