Croixleur Sigma Review

2016-03-04-004301

Title: Croixleur Sigma
Developer: Souvenir Circ, Active Gaming Media, Playism
Platform: PlayStation Vita
Game Type: Vita
Download: 816 MB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download

EU Availability: Digital Download
PSTV Support: 
Yes

Croixleur Sigma is one of the games I’ve really been looking forward to playing on my PS Vita.  For a couple reasons, too.  First of all, it’s because I had a fun time talking back and forth with Playism about whether the game ran on the PlayStation TV.  Another is what it is.  An anime-style fast-paced action game.  It’s looked like a lot of fun from the first time I saw screenshots of the game.

So, before we get started, let’s do some history on the game, itself.  This originally released on PC, simply as Croixleur.  It only had 1 story scenario and far less game modes back then, and was also a fraction of the price.  Since then, it’s been updated with new story scenarios, unlockable game modes, characters, and more.  To summarize, it is an enhanced port of the original game with a bunch of new content thrown in.

Now, we can get this started.  Here is my official review of the PS Vita version of Croixleur Sigma!

Story

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The story takes place in the Queendom (kingdom ruled by a Queen) of Ilance, where two different military groups have fought for power over the land.  The plot takes place around two young girls, one from each faction, as they race their way up a combat-oriented tower.  Whoever wins the trial will decide which faction will have military dominance and have the right to protecting the Royal Family.

Apart from this, there’s a new bit of story with two new characters.  These are introduced in the new story scenarios, as the Queendom comes under threat from magical invaders, and the two venture into their fortress to discover and eliminate that threat.

As grand as that story summary may sound, the story is one of the more disappointing aspects of the game.  It’s not that it isn’t interesting, but it felt like more of a “This is justification for you doing this” sort of thing.  A lot of the scenes go through and act like you already know a ton about the story, and even that is pretty light.  It has a very interesting backstory, but once you reach the end of even all four scenarios, I couldn’t help but feeling a bit of a “Where’s the rest?  That’s it?” notion.  I think it could and should have been fleshed out a lot more, as far as story is concerned.

Gameplay

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Croixleur Sigma is an arena-based action game with RPG elements thrown into the mix.  Each stage has you in a small arena, fighting against wave of enemies in fast-paced combat and leveling up as you go (hence the RPG elements).  Although each game mode handles things a little differently, that’s the general synopsis.  Arena-based brawler with RPG elements to mix things up.

Speaking of game modes, let’s talk about what is available.  From the main menu, there’s a tutorial mode that teaches you how the game works.  Then, once you get to the Game Modes menu, you have Story Mode, Score Attack Mode, Survival Mode, Challenge Mode, Dungeon Mode, and Training Mode.  Note that some of these are not unlocked from the start and you must clear parts of Story Mode to be able to use them.

Story Mode is where you go to participate in the game’s story.  There are four different characters to play as across two scenarios.  Although it appears as four different scenarios, they are more or less two scenarios with two character options.  The main difference is that the story is told from that character, and the ending is slightly different, depending on who you choose to play through it as.

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Unlocking new scenarios are a matter of clearing already-available scenarios.  However, one scenario can only be unlocked by moving through the first scenario very quickly and covering it all in under 10 minutes of its 15-minute time limit, enabling a “True Ending” and thus enabling the second character’s story mode.  The third and fourth scenarios can just be unlocked by beating the earlier scenarios normally, rushed or not.

Score Attack Mode gives you a time limit, where you fight off as many enemies as possible to get a high score in that time limit.  Then you have Survival Mode, where you fight endless waves of enemies until you are finally taken down, yourself.  Challenge Mode pits you in specific scenarios and conditions to conquer.  Finally, there is Dungeon Mode (Training I won’t go deep into.  Imagine Practice Mode from fighters).  In Dungeon Mode, you are traveling a 50-floor dungeon (Much longer than any of the story mode scenarios, fighting off enemies and bosses, with the goal of reaching the end of the dungeon and clearing the game mode.

Now let’s talk about how you actually play the game.  In each stage, you’re placed in a small, circular arena where enemies will keep spawning until you’ve defeated all for that floor.  You do this by dashing around them, attacking with various weapons you find, and using both weapon skills that vary depending on the equipped weapon, and Secret Skills, which are Ultimate Attacks that you can use after racking up so much energy from defeating enemies.

The basic synopsis is the same across all modes.  In many modes, you will be alone in the dungeon against the hordes of enemies.  However, some modes, like Dungeon, give you an AI partner.  You start out with only a single weapon, but can collect more as you traverse the dungeons and defeat enemies.  Each weapon has a specific skill type attached to it, and you can equip up to four at the same time.

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Skills and Weapons are also something you have to watch, because weapons can break.  If you use a single weapon too much, it will break and you will lose it.  It’s good to be able to be diverse and remember to switch these around so you have as few breaks as possible.  There is a small chance of getting that weapon back at the end of the stage, but it is no guarantee.  So, if there’s a skill you want to keep, be careful with your weapons.

MP is the final thing to watch for.  Dashing and Skills are a ton of fun to use (You can literally fly around the field almost endlessly with air dashing) but use up MP and if you enter a combo with no MP, you can’t chain skills if you get surrounded.  It’s a good idea to watch your MP gauge at all times.  Though it’s worth noting that this becomes more doable the further you get as you level up as you fight, increasing your pool of HP and MP.

The combat may feel a little clunky at first, but once you start utilizing the dash, which is clearly one of the biggest stars of the combat system, it gets very fluid and a ton of fun.  The difficulty can also show itself the further you get.  Although there is an Easy Mode for Story Mode, you don’t get difficulty options in the other Game Modes.  So, diving through Dungeon Mode can be quite difficult if you haven’t mastered the system.

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Outside of this, there is also customization to be done.  While each character can equip weapons you find in their game modes, you also collect Medals from defeating enemies that are used for character customization.  This is 100% for looks and decoration, using medals to buy accessories like bunny ears, sunglasses, eyepatches, cat tails, etc. to customize the looks of each character.

As far as time is concerned, the Story Mode could take you as little as 2 hours to clear.  15 minutes a piece for Scenarios 1 and 2, and 30 minutes a piece for 3 and 4.  I would wager you’ll need to replay 1 and 2 at least a couple times to get into that “Under 10 minutes to unlock True Ending” challenge, so I’d place Story Mode more at 3 hours, maybe 4.  It certainly isn’t a long game, but the focus is clearly more on the extra game modes that are much longer.  The first Story Mode is only 15 minutes across about 15 stages.  Dungeon Mode is almost 4 times that, so expect a single go through Dungeon to take you at least an hour.

Your main concern here is whether it’s worth the money.  Croixleur Sigma costs $15 for cross-buy between the PS Vita and PS4 versions, but it is also worth noting that the Co-Op Multiplayer from the PC version is not present here.  Some may think $15 for a short-ish game may not be worth it, while others think it is.  For how much fun the combat can be, I personally think it is.

Controls

As far as controls are concerned, we aren’t looking at a confusing scheme.  First of all, the default scheme does have the Secret Skills set to the touch screen, which may prove odd for PlayStation TV owners.  However, there are alternate control schemes that move that to the physical buttons.

Moving around is done with the Left Analog Stick and the camera can be moved with either the D-Pad or the Right Analog Stick.  But really, there’s no reason to ever use the “Claw Camera” by using the D-Pad for camera movement.  The L trigger can be held with a face button for a weapon skill, and the R trigger is used to center the camera behind the player.  X is used for jumping, Square for dashing, and Circle is used for using normal physical attacks.

That’s about all there is to it.  It works quite well and is explained well in the Tutorial section.

Presentation

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The visual presentation is what makes this game so impressive.  If you compared this to it’s PS4 version, you could see a difference, but this is a really nice looking Vita game.  The visual presentation is almost right on par with the PS4 version, savor a few jagged edges here and there.  Despite this, it still looks really good for a Vita game.

Performance also runs quite well.  The most I ever had to wait for a load screen was about 5 seconds, most of the time much less, and the game flows and loads new floors near-instantaneously.  To a point where they don’t even need to put in load times.  Tying this with the near-perfect frame-rate, the developers did an excellent job on Croixleur Sigma’s PS Vita version.

Summary

Croixleur Sigma improves on its original release in almost every way, and has a fun and flashy introduction to the handheld world.  Although the story isn’t incredibly impressive, multiplayer was removed, and it’s a bit short for some to justify the $15 price tag, it’s a fun adventure that any fan of beat-em-up games should certainly look into.

7/10

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