Review: Croixleur Sigma (PS4/PSV/PSTV)

croixleur-sigma-review-banner-yr10

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • PlayStation Vita

Extras:

  • PlayStation TV Compatible Yes
  • Cross-Buy Yes
  • Cross-Save Yes
  • Cross-Play No
  • Cross-Chat No
Title: Croixleur Sigma
Format: PlayStation Network Download (PS4 1.26 GB) (PSV 816 MB)
Release Date: January 19, 2016
Publisher: Active Gaming Media Inc.
Developer: Souvenir Circle
Original MSRP: $14.99
ESRB Rating: E10+
Croixleur Sigma is also available on PC.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Croixleur Sigma is a “doujin” game, essentially the Japanese equivalent of an indie game. Made by a small group and initially released on the PC, Croixleur Sigma has now made its way to the PS4 with some nice upgrades and additions. This version of the hack and slash game adds two new playable characters as well as a couple more modes.

Gameplay:
The goal of Croixleur Sigma is pretty simple: to hack and slash through waves of enemies (and a few bosses) and eventually emerge victorious. To that end, the basic gameplay is very simple. Circle button is a basic attack and can be mashed to perform a short combo, Cross is jump, Square is dash, and Triangle is special attack. That’s about it.

There are a few extra abilities that round out the heroine’s skill set though. Holding L1 and pressing a face button will perform one of a few different special attacks, more on that later, while holding L1 and R1 together will perform a manaburst that knocks away enemies. Finally, clicking the touch pad does a big finisher move that damages all nearby enemies.

The game has four playable characters and, as will become a bit of a theme, there doesn’t seem to be much difference between them. Move wise, they all work the same and although the game says there are differences in how the characters attack, how much mana they have (mana is used for the special attacks and for dashing), and how it regenerates, I didn’t really notice a difference.

Croixleur Sigma_20160204004752Croixleur Sigma_20160204005305

The special attacks are determined by the weapons the character has. Before starting, the player picks four weapons, one for each face button. These correspond to the L1+face button special attacks and using that special attack will switch to that weapon while triangle is a shortcut to use the special attack of the current weapon. But just like the characters, I didn’t notice much difference between the weapons outside of the special attacks.

Although the basic gameplay doesn’t change much, Croixleur gives players a host of modes to play in. The most basic is the Story Mode. This is a series of twenty to thirty stages depending on the character picked, with some story bits in between. It’s a pretty short ‘story’ and is in fact timed so it can’t last more than fifteen or thirty minutes (again depending on character).

… slightly different rule sets or goals …
The story itself is just an intro, a few lines of dialogue in the middle, and an ending. And it ultimately is pretty forgettable. Also, despite there being four characters to play through with, there are really only two stories between them, just told with slightly different viewpoints.

There is a little bit of replayability though. Several unlocks are tied beating the story fast enough. Plus, the shorter of the two stories has some branching rooms and only by playing each path can the player unlock all of the swords. The longer story doesn’t branch but it does have more variety in enemies and arenas.

Other modes include Dungeon and Extra mode (both unlockables), as well as Survival, Score Attack, and Challenge modes. Ultimately these are all essentially the same thing, just with slightly different rule sets or goals. For example, the Challenge Mode is comprised of extremely short individual stages to be cleared while the Survival Mode has the player playing increasingly difficult stages until they die.

Croixleur Sigma_20160217205012Croixleur Sigma_20160228003659

The final part of the game is the shop, which sells attachments for the characters. These are accessories like cat ears or a crown that the heroines can wear to give them a beneficial effect like increased invulnerability while dashing or more coins dropping.

These effects are relatively small though and don’t seem to affect gameplay all that much. One of the ones I tried didn’t even seem to work at all. Still, earning enough coins to unlock all of the accessories does add some replayability to the game for those that want it.

Overall the gameplay is good but not great. There’s some fun to be had dashing around the stage and beating up enemies but with just the basic combo attack and a few special attacks, the game starts to get mundane quick. All the modes feel pretty similar and with only about seven types of normal enemies and a couple of bosses, there isn’t a lot of enemy variety.

The arenas to fight in are all the same too, just big, flat circular areas. The longer story tries to change things up with modifiers on some arenas, like reduced move speed or increased damage, but the arena itself is exactly the same.

… all just re-skins of the same thing …
Visuals:
At some level, the game looks pretty impressive for the small-team effort. It has a decent cel-shaded look that’s pleasing and fun to watch. I especially like the way the characters look, and loading up a character with a bunch of different accessories is as amusing as it is cute. The special attacks are flashy and interesting as well and even the 2D character art used during story scenes is well drawn and expressive.

However the lack of variety in gameplay also means a lack of variety in graphics. The few normal enemies all get several palette swaps, which denote how much health they have while the arenas are all just re-skins of the same thing but with different color schemes or backgrounds. The worst part about the palette swaps is that they aren’t even all that distinct.

2016-03-02-0731442016-03-02-071923

Vita version screenshots

Surprisingly, the Vita version looks really good. Going from the PS4 to the Vita, the difference in graphics seems almost minor. The Vita screenshots above don’t fully do the game justice though, as the game looks better in motion than it does in those images.

Not surprisingly though, the Vita version does seem to run at a slightly lower framerate and can chug a bit when there are tons of enemies on screen. It’s not unplayable but it did take me a minute to get adjusted after coming from the PS4 version.

Audio:
Small game and small developer, I was a little surprised that the game was fully voice acted. Granted, there’s not a whole lot of lines in the story anyway so the voices aren’t used for much aside from the yells and such during battle. The localization still uses Japanese voices, but that’s fine for me.

Music in the game is decent but forgettable. Some generic-ish rock-fantasy style music to play in the background while fighting.

… as a distraction it’ll suffice …
Online/Multiplayer:
Several of the modes on PS4 have co-op play, however the co-op is restricted to just local. The only way to play with a friend over the internet is through Share Play. Unfortunately, the Vita version doesn’t seem to have any co-op at all, not even local ad-hoc.

For the most part, online is just the usual set of leaderboards. However, the Dungeon Mode does have the player fighting against online players. Sort of. The mode pulls character set-ups (weapons and accessory equips) from other people who have played the game.

However, the AI of this enemy character seems to be the exact same as is used in the other modes. At least the game seems to try to pull in data from those on the player’s friend’s list, based on my experience.

Croixleur Sigma_20160228003045Croixleur Sigma_20160228004816

Conclusion:
Overall, there is some fun to be had in Croixleur Sigma. This is definitely not the most-in depth hack-n-slash game out there but as a distraction it’ll suffice. There are a lot of modes to explore as well and a decent amount of replayability in the form of finding unlocks and bettering leaderboard scores. Still, the variety between all of these things is lacking.

With that in mind, Croixleur Sigma feels like a side game. For me it was best as the thing I picked up and played a little bit of here and there over a longer period of time, as a filler between bigger games. And I think that means that the game is just “okay.”

Score:
6.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook