Imagine you are in a digital landscape, surrounded by polygonal artifacts of a cosmic realm. Suddenly, a hooded man with a nebula for a face charges at you, gun raised. That’s when the dubstep starts. As the bass begins to drop and the mysterious space man closes in on you, his gun lights up and you see the bright flash of lasers. Everything goes dark. Welcome to Chroma.
After the unparalleled success of Rock Band led to the slowing of the music game genre altogether, many gamers wondered where Harmonix would go next. Evidenced by the announcement trailer above, it looks as though they are intent on breaking new ground and trying their hand at the first-person shooter genre, pairing up with Counter-Strike: Global Offensive developer Hidden Path Entertainment. Being a Harmonix title though, it goes without saying that music will play a big part in this shooter’s gameplay.
Chroma looks to take a cue from shooters of old like Unreal and Quake, as the name of the game here is fast-paced arena combat. The catch: the game’s soundtrack will act as the basis for everything from the player’s movement to the effectiveness of their weapons. In this way, indie title Beat Hazard comes to mind with its weapons that become more potent as the beat of the game’s music increases in intensity.
To further add to the menagerie of features, players will be able to choose from a variety of different classes that will use the game’s music in different ways to augment their individual play-styles. Combine this with the fact that the arenas themselves will shift and change at significant moments in the game’s songs, and you’ve got the recipe for a chaotic, but oddly enticing gaming experience.
To cap it all off, Harmonix has announced that the game will not only be coming to Steam, but it will be a free-to-play title. On the game’s official site, they make a point of saying that the game will not be “pay-to-win,” highlighting the inclusion of “deep customization.”
While some games fall into the trap of hurting their players with micro-transactions that give a significant edge to paying players, one can only hope that Chroma does not present the same issues. Games like Dota 2 manage to provide a level playing field for all players, but also provide customization options on the side – for a price. If this is a similar model to what Harmonix is hinting at, they could very well have a hit on their hands.
With Fantasia: Music Evolved (check out our our preview) on the horizon and Chroma making its way through development with an alpha on the way, Harmonix is gearing up for a big year with some incredibly interesting ideas. Chroma may not seem like the most logical pairing of gaming genres, but from the early information and footage that is available, it’s certainly shaping up to be a title to watch.
Does the combination of rhythm game and first-person shooter intrigue you? How do you think Harmonix will implement their free-to-play system?
Chroma is set to drop its way onto Steam for the PC later in 2014 with an alpha becoming available in the coming months.
Follow Ryan on Twitter @ThatRyanB.