Orangeblood PAX West 2019 Impression
Even with much of the demo untranslated, Orangeblood is a compelling mix of cyberpunk intrigue and anime humor.
Orangeblood is a brash, turn-based RPG developed by single-person Grayfax Software and produced by the good, pro-indie folks at Playism. It tells the story of four anime girls with guns who want to make it big, dodging between American corporations, the Russian mob, the Japanese government, and any other two-bit palooka with more firepower than sense. The playground for their mayhem is a man-made island and former American research facility off the coast of Okinawa that delivers strong Kowloon Walled City vibes. Space is tight, violence is endemic, and there’s not enough pie to go around. In the far-flung, futuristic world of 199X, the planet has weathered three world wars, hover cars are hot, and every hero is defined by three pieces of equipment: their gun, their kicks, and one accessory.
The demo starts with powerful men in suits pressuring the mysterious soldier of fortune Vanilla and optimistic DJ Machiko into evicting squatters from a building under disputed jurisdiction. They’re deniable assets. In a twist familiar to Shadowrun veterans, the run goes sour when they unexpectedly learn the Russians are also interested in the building. After a thorough beating, Vanilla and Machiko retreat to Machiko’s crummy apartment. The next encounter is more the roommates’ speed: they fight back against a gang lord and his goons, who froze Machiko out of DJing at her favorite club. Following the carnage, Vanilla helps Machiko cut a record.
In a game that carries so many hip hop signifiers, authenticity is important to creating an immersive atmosphere. My street cred is little-to-none, so I can’t say how authentic Orangeblood is (sweary anime girls aside). However, it certainly provides the side-by-side glitz and poverty that’s evident in so many hip hop and cyberpunk narratives. The music sounds like the background of a Deltron track, the neighborhood is coated in retro-futurist grit, and everybody’s looking out for number one.
Although the combat system seems like a key draw for Orangeblood, the demo doesn’t show it at its best. The battles were simple, start-of-the-game encounters and the tutorial text was untranslated. However, the variety of systems at play suggest keeping an eye on how Orangeblood pulls together. Characters have AP, which depletes as they use gun-based abilities. Reloading refills their AP. They also use SP for special abilities like Machiko’s DJ skills. Other special attacks use cooldown timers. In the final game, gun stats will be randomized by applying modifiers to generic weapons. Grayfox Software is making RPG Maker work under the weight of its cybernetic mods.
Even with much of the demo untranslated, Orangeblood is a compelling mix of cyberpunk intrigue and anime humor. It’s coming to Steam in early 2020 with console releases sometime after.