Orangeblood is a totally unique RPG that will blow the cobwebs of 2019 right out of your ears with a fantastically produced soundtrack, and visuals you eyes will devour. The gameplay can seem complex at first, but it’s actually really accessible as far as games in this genre go.
Going into Orangeblood I wasn’t sure what to expect. Orangeblood is slated as an RPG set in an alternate past that blends some elements of cyberpunk with themes pulled right out of the 90s. Players take on the roles of four Kawaii soldiers, who aren’t your typical RPG stereotypes.
While most RPGs give you a protagonist with a facial scar and a secret past, Orangeblood gives you four girls who couldn’t care less about the cutesy stuff. The four Kawaii soldiers find joy in the simple art of blasting machines and gangs away with ridiculously big guns.
Not Your Usual RPG
Orangeblood’s story also strays far from the typical RPG archetype. If you’re looking for more of a Final Fantasy fix then this really isn’t for you. If however, you’re open to a story that’s all about kicking ass and turf wars all wrapped up in a greasy metal package then this is going to suit you down to the ground.
Upon first glance New Koza, a man-made island off the coast of Okinawa in an alternate 199X in which Orangeblood is set, is the grimy result of someone creating a city out of the scaffolding used to build the skyscrapers of another one. But once you get to know it you’ll discover a vibrant world dominated by a love for music, gangs, and killer robots.
The game is built around a superb soundtrack that’s been created for this world, and heavily inspired by 90s hip hop. Songs are persistent throughout combat, and only enhance each area of the game, the story, and each corner of the city.
Orangeblood is Really Accessible
Players explore New Koza between missions and objectives, able to wander the upper and lower levels freely, for the most part.
The city’s atmosphere is impossible not to drink through every wall, door, and the oddly frequent bins. There are even areas for players to completely detach, and instead watch the Kawaii soldiers relax by hanging out at home, or by smashing golf balls off of the roof.
Various crates around the world are filled with gear to equip each of the four Kawaii soldiers with, though others will drop from enemies as you fight your way through the story.
Other RPGs rely on players spending hours looking at each item’s stats in order to determine the correct loadout. Orangeblood, on the other hand, has a helpful auto-equip option to make life easier for those who don’t venture into the genre too often.
The Not So Nitty Gritty Combat
The gameplay begins to get deep when it comes to crawling through the various dungeons. Each area is filled with ghost-like figures that stalk the hallways in search of prey. This isn’t in keeping with the cyberpunk feel of the world, but what the ghostly visages do is disguise the enemies beneath.
These ghosts can hear players as they move throughout each dungeon and will react to their presence. Before combat is even initiated they’ll chase players and try to get the jump on them. Players can gain an advantage by shooting these ghosts and stunning them, entering combat in a sort of ‘surprise’ mode.
Once in a battle the enemies are revealed, most of which will be killer robots. The design of these and all enemies is superb, with each moving part beautifully animated to provide a visceral feel to each machine. It helps that the robot designs resemble drones and military aids that you see in movies and the news, making them feel much more real in this alternate version of the 90s.
The combat in Orangeblood at first appears complicated, but it’s quite simple under the surface. Players choose between an attack with their equipped weapon, all of which can have various beneficial effects or skills, that can be both offensive and defensive. Most battles can be pushed through with almost no difficulty by simply attacking as much as possible.
Unfortunately, the ease of combat is also my biggest complaint about the game. RPGs like Final Fantasy XIII had a combat system that was easy to learn and hard to master, and most other RPGs are the same. Orangeblood doesn’t have a combat system to learn. It’s very self-explanatory and easy to use, but there’s no mastery to it.
However, boss fights require some actual thought.
Some Strategy Required
Skills offer various benefits, such as increased critical changes and lowered enemy damage for a turn, which will make your life easier in the next phase. They are essential in all boss fights and any fight that offers more challenging enemies.
When you’ve been trying to take a particular enemy or boss down for a long time and finally work through the wall and beat them, you really feel like you’ve accomplished something.
Death in Orangeblood isn’t as much of a punishment as it is in other RPGs. When you die in battle you’re given the option to either return to the last checkpoint, mercifully common throughout the game’s dungeons, or to the last safe place.
Choosing the latter will obviously place you back at an earlier point in the dungeon. The former instead takes you out entirely, back to the last area in which you saved. Usually, this is the home of the Kawaii warriors in the hub world.
What this doesn’t do is turn back time to the last point that you saved. This allows you to keep all of the levels you’ve earned fighting your way to the boss in the dungeon. What this does is make the game much easier for RPG beginners. It also makes Orangeblood a lot more fun in general, because there’s no feeling of grinding out the same areas over and over again without progress.
Orangeblood is definitely not your classic RPG, but it also doesn’t do away with most of the elements that makes that genre so great. The world feels fresh and vibrant and the soundtrack ties everything together, even in combat.
New Koza might not feel like somewhere you want to spend hours of your time at first, but once you’ve delved through the grime and soot you’ll come to enjoy dirty cyberpunk adventure that lurks waiting to get its nails in you.
Orangeblood is far from a classic RPG title, and definitely not what JRPG fans are looking for. Instead, it's a blend of 90s hip hop and subverted expectations about anime girls as main characters, thrusting the Kawaii warriors into the centre of a story that sees each of them trying to end the gang wars that they long to see stopped once and for all. Ultimately this is a game about bringing freedom to a city, much like Final Fantasy VII, it just does it with massive guns instead of magic.
- Easier RPG mechanics make it more accessible
- Great soundtrack
- Not afraid to push its characters with extreme personalities
- Looks quite daunting to get into initially
- Might not be as deep as some RPG fans want