PLAYISM’s Orangeblood is a turn-based RPG set in an alternate 90s timeline. A group of badass girls battle the mafia in the gritty underworld of a man-made island of Japan while set to a funky hip-hop soundtrack.
The basic premise is that our main character Vanilla is busted for various crimes and has to do a job for the CIA in order to clear her name and escape jail time. She is sent to New Koza, an island of Japan where she has lived in the past, however it is now completely overrun by the mafia. Her job is to investigate a building with high security and find out what is hidden there. Overall, the story is not that compelling, and dialogue is unapologetically crass, although not out of place given the scenario. It is hard to like Vanilla because she’s horrible to everyone with no context for why, and just comes across as your cookie cutter “bad girl” with no endearing qualities.
Unlike ye olde RPG’s where swords and magic ruled, Orangeblood‘s more recent era setting allows for the use of guns as the main weapons. With no mages in sight, buffing for HP and SP is done by means of a boombox from Machiko, our aspiring DJ on the team. It’s refreshing to see standard battle mechanics given a new coat of paint and will definitely delight those that love both classic 2D RPG’s and modern weapons.
SP is used for your Skill attacks and you do need to charge it for every new fight, which is akin to other game mechanics such as Limit Break in Final Fantasy series. You won’t be blazing through an area to level up, as you can’t unleash your best attacks early and it can feel like a bit of a grind. However, when you do have enough SP, it is satisfying when Vanilla gets to use Deadeye, as the cliche western sound effect makes me smile every time. Thankfully, Machiko’s ‘Transition’ Skill does not cost any SP to use, so you can switch it to healing mode at any time. Damage to your HP will carry over into the next battle but your SP charge will not. You will also have to manage your AP (ammo) in each battle as well. When you run out of ammo the game will auto reload, but there’s no evasion penalty if you time it into your rotation yourself.
There is a large array of weapons and armour to buy and each visit to a store will have random items for sale. The weapons have ridiculously long names, which are almost unreadable when the font size is shrunken down to fit the line limits. This could be improved by adding the extra information to the flavour text instead of trying to cram it all into the item name. Playing the game on a large TV also makes the fonts look somewhat blurry.
There are other shops around such as recycle shops, vending machines and food vendors, but it’s a little difficult at first to determine what these actually do. Walking up to vending machines and food stalls will automatically make a purchase. It will heal you for a small price, but it will waste your money if you accidentally run into it. Recycle shops allow you to sell off junk weapons and armour that you don’t want.
The start of the game does not give you much money, so you may want to grind some enemies to afford the expensive healing item (which can only be used outside of battle) or buy some new weapons. Once you have a lot of keys to open boxes, weapons can be easily found which you can either use or sell.
The character art is a very cute anime style, which is quite a juxtaposition to the bad language and seedy setting. Each of your player characters has their own colourful colour palette, making it easy to tell them apart. It blends nicely with the vibrant city and stands out against the more subdued basements and back alleys. The main city design is very cluttered and hard to navigate, however it does perfectly reflect the vibe of a real crowded slum city overrun by crime. You will unlock fast travel fairly early into the game, which makes it less of a hassle to find your next destination – and it’s a flying car to boot!
While the story and character development is not strong, if you love guns, hip-hop music, crime and gratuitous swearing, then Orangeblood will keep you thoroughly entertained on its world setting alone. The turn-based battles and their unique take on these mechanics are what really shine in this game, making it ideal for lovers of old-school RPGs.
Orangeblood is available on Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4 and XBox One now.