Taking place in the late 20th century, Orangeblood is inspired by retro JRPG's and gangster rap for the 90s. Equip your party with various guns and equipment and do battle in classic turn-based combat.
199X, New Koza
It's the end of the 20th century, on a historic timeline different from that which we know. A manmade island off the coast of Okinawa is humming with a dirty, exotic vibe - and it's awesome!
Rust and faded concrete glisten in the morning sun and the late-night neon, showing off the various facets of the island.
Let yourself go to the subtropical sun, the sound of the waves, and the scent of weed, and let some real deep cuts and unknown classics of the 1990s hip-hop take you away. It doesn't matter whether you're chilling on a couch on a rooftop, having a drink at the bar, or capping fools in a firefight in some sketchy alleyway.
Four "Kawaii" Soldiers:
Hey you! Do you like hardcore adventures where you take on the role of an even harder-core badass tasked with beating the crap out of a bunch of demons? Well, so do I, but sometimes it's fun to try out something a little different, you know?
These four cute Asian girls couldn't care less about little photo stickers... They'd rather play with some 7.62x39mm rifles and filthy, filthy cash!
Simple-yet-deep Turn-based Gunfighting:
Use simple controls to take down evil gang members and killer robots! In New Koza, you can purchase randomly-generated and extremely powerful guns, 24/7.
Load up a shotgun so powerful you'd burn yourself to toast if the gas leaked and some brand-new fireproof sneakers, find a group of psychotic yakuza thugs, and personally deliver a handwritten invitation to BEATDOWN TOWN!
There's a Dog, Too!
OS: Windows 10
Processor: 2.4 GHz Dual-core
Memory: 4 GB RAM
Storage: 500 MB available space
January 14th, 2020
Orangeblood is a unique blend—a JPRG with style influenced by ’90s rap/hip-hop. When I first heard about the game, I knew it had the potential to be right up my alley. Having listened to that kind of music in the past and with that genre being a part of my testimony, I decided to check it out. So, was it everything I hoped it would be? Orangeblood does bleed plenty of nostalgia with its soundtrack and presentation, but rides a little too low and fails to be the mic drop that I was hoping for.
Spiritual Content: One of the characters quotes scripture, but it does not come from the Bible and is a fictional religious book. That same character does a dance, that he calls a ritual, to a fictional god.
Violence: For its title, Orangeblood doesn’t have very much blood. Gameplay consists of turn-based combat in which characters are taking turns attacking one another with a variety of weapons such as guns, swords, and more.
Language: The game consists of written text that is rife with various kinds of foul language and crude dialogue.
Drugs/Alcohol: Various drug and alcohol references come up throughout the game. A club is the home base for your party of characters.
Orangeblood starts up making a good impression. Its presentation is easily its strongest trait. It looks like a JRPG that may have come out during what some might be considered the golden age of the genre—on the SNES and original Playstation. The game is visually pleasing and shines brightest when you are traveling around the city of New Koza, as dynamic lighting is present along with a day-and-night cycle.
When starting up the game, you’ll also notice the bangin’ hip-hop soundtrack. The aesthetic and world of Orangeblood are built around the culture of ’90s West Coast rap music, and the music sticks to that theme well. Some of the tracks strongly emulate the work of Dr. Dre and other artists from that era, which I no longer listen to, so listening to the soundtrack can be quite nostalgic. The two colliding cultures featured in Orangeblood are a strange couple but somehow work together.
Those who cut their teeth on old-school JRPGs back in the day will be happy to know that Orangeblood plays like one. It features turn-based combat in which characters use a variety of guns and melee weapons to attack one another. Some characters also use abilities that can buff your party and debuff enemies—one of them pulls out a “ghetto blaster” stereo to do this. I enjoy the combat itself, but I can’t say I like how the game returns you to a checkpoint or safe area with zero health upon death. The frustration I felt during those moments wouldn’t occur if I would’ve been returned to a previous save, like many of its retro predecessors usually do.
Everything that someone would want out of a new game inspired by retro JRPG’s seems to be here, such as exploring dangerous areas to grind and returning to town for better equipment and weapons. However, the 90’s hip-hop theme may have been taken too far. It is injected into the world very well, but where it seems too much is in the dialogue. Every single character is unnecessarily fouled mouthed and uses that language in almost every sentence.
Yes, foul language and subject matter are a staple of the music genre and culture, but there could’ve been a more tasteful way to go about it. In some ways, the language doesn’t even represent the period of 19XX because words like “thot” get used, which is a more modern slang term. The biggest culprit of this attitude is the main character known as Vanilla. The game centers around her character, who is recruited out of prison to accomplish a mission, with her freedom as the reward. This character feels much more like a villain than our hero of the story.
My issues with Orangeblood lie not just in the story and characters, but in the controls too. The game does not include controller support, and the mouse + keyboard controls are uncomfortable to use. It feels odd to encounter such an issue in the current state that most video games (indie or not) are released these days. Controller support seems like an addition that shouldn’t be very hard to include.
Many of these factors kept me from spending the time in this futuristic version of the ’90s that I wanted to. The presentation stands out with a retro aesthetic that makes the game appealing at first glance. The soundtrack is unique enough that I’ll likely listen to it outside of playing the game if it becomes available on Bandcamp or Spotify. From a distance, Orangeblood makes a good first impression…until it decides to start talking.
It’s a bummer that I can’t recommend that anyone spend money on this game. As much as I dislike the characters and dialogue, I would’ve put more time into Orangeblood if the controls and gameplay systems were better. The developers have missed their target on what could have been a strange yet fresh blend of two different cultures. Maybe someone else can take a stab at a ’90s hip-hop JRPG and do it better.
+ Retro gameplay
- Too much foul language
- Lacks controller support