A strong contender for the “weirdest name given to a game in 2021” award, Chroma Quaternion is another title from the masters of the retro-styled RPG, KEMCO. And just for a change, this time it’s a first person shooter! Just kidding, of course it’s another retro-styled, turn-based RPG game, and while this may not be a surprise to anyone, there is something to be said for certainty in these unusual times. When everyday life begins to look like a plot from a Tom Clancy novel, the thought of playing another KEMCO game is actually strangely appealing. So come with me to the traditional world of magic, goodies, baddies and massive rucks!
The story of Chroma Quaternion is something of a highlight this time around, as it revolves around the traditional party of four characters. These are, in order of introduction to the game, Ark, an “Unlucky Priest”; Foure, Ark’s canine companion; Eara, the princess of the Spring Kingdom; and Evaile, the princess’s maid. As I’m sure you will agree, a pretty unlikely bunch in whose hands to entrust the future of the world, but as I’ve seen time again and time again, sending actual trained soldiers into situations like this usually causes disaster, so why not try something different?
Introducing a new feature, the story itself revolves around roles, which are skillsets that people can learn. Ark had a role that nobody could understand, and so Priest was his second role. Now, it transpires that the four Quadeities have begun to suffer from a strange problem, and it appears that Ark’s role has something to do with helping these Quadeities. Each of the Quadeities is tied to one of the four nations, and also to a particular season, so in the land of the Spring Deity there are constant green leaves falling thanks to the Green Wind. In the land of the Winter Deity meanwhile, it is always snowing.
So, with the scene set, we have to try and find out who is stealing the roles of the Deities and make them pay! As a reward for helping out, as you meet each Deity, they grant the power of the Beast Descent, which in almost every way is identical to the summons in the Final Fantasy series of games. Every Deity grants a different one, so finding your favourite is an interesting diversion.
As you’d expect from that brief description of the plot, roles play a big part in the story and in developing the four characters. For instance, some roles are demanded as the story goes on, such as Ark learning the Fisherman role, or Foure learning the Barrel Role (I’m not sure if that’s a dreadful pun or not, but Foure can literally disguise himself as a barrel). Roles are learned from Crystals, and these are given as part of the story or found tucked away in chests in the many dungeons scattered around the world. And also, in one memorable incident, inside the belly of a monster, which we have to retrieve by killing and presumably gutting it. Luckily this part of the action is hidden from us.
Each role can also be refined by levelling them up, and each level of refinement brings new passive abilities. With a little light grinding (something I always recommend in these types of games, especially at the shrine-type things in the entrances of dungeons), you can end up with some very overpowered characters quite easily. I’m finding that if I stay about 10 levels ahead of the enemies in the area I’m exploring it’s a fairly easy ride.
Graphically, Croma Quaternion is very much business as usual, with cute, pixel art-type sprites wandering around a pre-drawn background, and KEMCO are definitely right in their wheelhouse with this kind of thing. Even the usual KEMCO control hang-ups seem somewhat reduced this time, and it’s only when trying to walk through diagonal passages that I’ve seen the usual routine of getting stuck on the scenery.
Although the game is branded as X|S optimised, I’m really struggling to see anything that couldn’t run on an Xbox 360, let alone the most powerful console in the world, so I’m unsure if it is just a gimmick, slapping the sticker on the game. It doesn’t support quick resume or seem to load particularly fast, but does have to be installed on the increasingly full internal storage, so this is a bit of a pet peeve of mine. Sound-wise it is very good as usual, and some of the music is particularly worthy of mention – more than once I’ve had my view of the action interrupted as my son went grooving past the TV. Make of that what you will.
All in all, Chroma Quaternion on the Xbox Series X is enjoyable. There’s something reassuring about playing a game that does exactly what you expect of it, right down to the achievements that are earned. The story is pretty much the same as the majority of KEMCO games, the graphics and action are very similar, and the overall vibe is pretty much what we expect; its like slipping under a nice warm duvet on a winter’s night. It doesn’t hurt that the story is good and the action is fast, and that there are a couple of new mechanics in the fighting either. If you are after a decent, fun to play RPG to while away the hours until lockdown finally eases, you could do a lot worse than spend a bit of time working out Chroma Quaternion.
Chroma Quaternion is available from the Xbox Store for Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S right now