REVIEW: Cromo Dynamix

Time waits for no man, or for XBLIG, for that matter. When I previewed Cromo Dynamix ($1.00) almost a year ago, I thought it held definite promise as an online-focused, twin-stick shooter. Back then, there were still people gravitating towards multiplayer offerings on the service, and the game seemed like a natural fit. A busy schedule and unforeseen circumstances prevented developer ElvishJumpSuit from releasing it sooner, but, as they say, better late than never1.

To a certain degree. Since that initial preview, XBLIG has seen its community shrink with each passing month, and with it, most of those that would even semi-regularly use the online component of any given indie game have departed as well. And as Cromo Dynamix is primarily billed as an online shooter for up to ten players, you’d be hard-pressed to find even one person in the game’s online lobby2.

It’s a hurdle, to be sure, but as recent shooters have shown, if you build it, they will may come. Cromo Dynamix concerns an interstellar battle for the fate of the planet, happening right under our noses. You take control of miniature ships, fighting this invasion against enemy drones at a microscopic level3. In reality, it’s just twin-stick ship combat, with powerups thrown in. There’s not much in the way of a heavy tutorial, but you do get a very lengthy intro movie to help explain the story if you’d like (which is ironic, considering the ‘story’ never really shows its face throughout the single-player campaign).

You don’t need much of a primer to get into the fray, however, so that’s less of an problem and more of a dressing to be poured over the simple setup. Fighting takes place over six arenas and with ten different ships, all of which are unlocked as you progress in the single-player (30 missions) and reach certain milestones. The ships are more than a cosmetic choice, as each has their own rating, shields, etc. Powerups too, have an obvious effect on the game and your steed, as missiles and double lasers will swing things in your favor. Hitting the lettered bubbles opposite your team color will boost your weapon power, and function as hazards at higher speeds.

Cromo Dynamix - Screen

There’s a handful of tricks and strategy to it, but it’s relatively easy to grasp and pick up. Sadly, any depth is lost on the game’s AI. While online battles would certainly play out a little differently, the single-player’s enemies rely on brute strength and numbers to take you out. As later missions increase the odds (and reduce your spare lives in reserve), this becomes more of an issue. Respawns can place you in harm’s way, too, with foes crowding your ship and souring the mood before you have much time to act.

Moreover, there’s a sense of familiarity and nagging repetition to it. There’s nothing in Cromo Dynamix that hasn’t been seen and done elsewhere in twin-stick shooters, and that hurts its bottom line. The game works (mostly) as advertised, but without a community of players to liven things up, the pedestrian design, shooting, and bland powerups all fall flat pretty quickly.

  1. That doesn’t mean it’s bug-free, however. I ran into a few ‘Code 4s’ in the game’s trial period, waiting around too long in the menu after a stage had loaded. The trouble mysteriously disappeared once I had purchased the game, but it’s worth a mention / warning. The developer is already aware of a number of other bugs, too. 
  2. I literally did find one person to play a game, and he / she promptly left mid-battle. Or maybe they were booted. Not sure. Either way, my online career consisted of two kills, one death. 
  3. Sounds a bit like Innerspace, really, minus the wacky Martin Short hijinks. 

36 thoughts on “REVIEW: Cromo Dynamix”

  1. My fears were realized: your ship skids all over the place, which is really a pain when you are trying to be precise. That isn’t a deal-killer; it just requires a bit more tactical work when firing amidst movement.

    The big problem? The AI is diabolical. As soon as I’d spawn in – before I can even see the AI opponent! – I’d come under fire. If the AI had already gotten a power-up I’d be done and dusted within seconds, or at least crippled without shielding. When it is one on one, that isn’t a big deal, but with two or more you are toast if you don’t listen like Rusty to Terry Benedict in Oceans Eleven (“Run and hide, @#$hole. Run and hide”). I’ve had it “safe spawn” about 2 cm from me. Not good.

    The powerups are the key to the game. If you can collide with the colored balls to get weapon boosts (and can manage the triple laser) you win quickly. If not? You lose to the opponent that DID manage to get the triple laser. Fun? Sometimes. Balanced? No. And that sliding makes it almost impossible to pick up a power up if you are moving at speed.

    On the whole, a poorly done twin stick on XBLIG is still preferable to a poorly done anything else on XBLIG, and this one isn’t poorly done at all. There just doesn’t seem anything urgent to it, I fear. Tim is pretty spot on, IMHO.

    1. Well sir, I thank you for that evaluation. Well put, well put indeed. You get bonus points for the movie reference, and for covering the game’s highs and lows in succinct, paragraph form. 😀

      You are quite right about the twin-stick line; not only are they typically the easiest to play / get into, but I feel that indie developers have a better chance of making a competitive product if it’s a twin-stick shooter. They’re not original, of course, but so long as they’re fun, I can generally deal with the repetition and blandness. Generally. Here, it’s just done in by the cheap AI. That said, if this game was released a few years ago, more people might’ve bought into it, when XBLIG had a somewhat larger audience and the MS Points system to aid it.

    2. Sorry, wasn’t trying to execute a review-in-comment-form, just figured I’d better participate with some feedback for the dev since he/she was good enough to grant me a free code. Besides, it would have taken too many tweets! : )

      I did like that the dev included more content based upon codes from his/her other games; Milkstone does the same and I really wish more XBLIG games had incorporated such similarly. It is such a small thing, but really makes you realize that these devs are trying their best to draw attention to their (sometimes) deserving product.

      Triple laser FTW!

    3. Well, of course your ‘review-in-comment’ review wouldn’t be complete until you’ve mastered the art of markdown and footnotes1.

      Those codes are a neat idea— in theory; I’ve seen plenty of people run into issues with redeeming the stuff. I personally have never tried it, so I’m not even sure what kind of added content it is or if it’d be worth it. I agree, though, it’s a nice extra / attempt to make XBLIG more appealing. Good on the Devs for taking the time.

      1. Like so. :) 
    4. Footnotes are the Devil. As is Ben Franklin, little girls, and foosball. Mama is still determining where Tim Hurley stands in this regard, but I think she is leaning towards Devil. ; )

  2. shuxs, I really wish there was another code for this game :{ I just wanna give it a test run before shelling out yet another dollar (shit adds up) but when I try to crank up the ole trial version; I keep getting a code 4 error like everyone else did. so it does me great displeasure to announce; this is yet another twick that I’m gonna miss :\

    best wishes..
    the commenter formally known as; Souper Troll

    1. @Jordan Michael: Ah, Souper Troll, ye shall be missed. Good luck with your adventures and search for life’s meaning out in the wasteland abyss [bows in respect].

      Yeah, that Code 4 is a pesky one, and it’s easier to find than I (and the developer) thought. Good news is it will probably be patched in the first update, the bad news is, it’s probably leaving a bad taste behind for any trial users that might’ve upgraded to the full version. Shuxs 🙂

      @ImTheMetalLord: Nothing troll-y or soup-y, for that matter. 😛

    2. @Jordan Michael: Well, this is your lucky day / night / week! The developer saw your urgent plea for the game, and has gifted me another FIVE codes for the game! I’ll be sending you one shortly, as well as for ‘ImTheMetalLord’. Anybody else that wants a code, ask away!

    3. @andregurov: Code is headed your way; I’m like Oprah handing out keys to a new car today! You get a code, and you get a code, and you get a code….

      All thanks to Mr. Anthony Ross (developer), as an apology for any trouble you guys encountered during the trial. If you do happen to notice any other bugs / Code 4s / glitches in the game itself, drop a reply here, and I’ll pass it along to the developer. He’s interested in squashing any other issues that pop up.

    4. @ImTheMetalLord: aha, I suppose that’s why I decided to ditch it. I love the idea of trolling people, but can never bring myself to actually do it.
      I think seeing you switch names from time to time gave me the initial idea lol

      @Tim Hurley: lmao that’s pretty funny, man. especially the part about bowing lol. I should be the one bowing, thanks to you and the super nice developer; ElvishJumpSuit..I no longer have to pass on Cromo Dynamix! Now I will be giving both my thumbs a workout, very shortly.

    5. The serious upside to this code giveaway (besides FREE games): now we all KNOW there are at least 6 people with the game, so it is merely up to us to arrange a time to all play together on multiplayer. Technically there is seven, including the wise and benevolent Tim (I’m having serious Monty Python jones here) … so what’s a good day and time, gentlemen (and/or ladies)? I’m game to lose in hideous fashion. : )

      And yes, brackets are to me as footnotes are to Mr. Hurley. Mainly because I still cannot make them. (I blame WordPress)

    6. Working a 10 today and Sundays are out because I mainly watch football and the best time for me is after midnight CST. when everyone else is usually in bed.

    7. @andregurov: Wise and benevolent, you say? Please, go on, tell me more about how great I am. 😀

      @Everyone Else: Weekends would likely be out for me, too. Daytime as well, since the times are too random to lock down a period… but, generally, I try to set aside weeknights between 10pm – Midnight (Central Time Zone) for gaming. That’s when I’m most likely to be on. After that, I’m busy writing articles to entertain you all! 🙂

  3. Isn’t there no such thing as bad publicity? : )

    The gameplay looks a bit “floaty” to me; I prefer my twin sticks with tight, precision control so I can only blame myself when I die (and thus emit fewer invectives for my children to hear). But: it seems if the online mp could take off – the big IF that probably won’t happen, natch – the game has some interesting bits. That trailer, though? Stupendously well done. Quite the opposite of the trailers usually made for XBLIG titles. I love the mock credits.

    1. Well, I’m sure there’s gotta be instances of bad publicity 🙂 , but generally, with media / games, yeah, any news is good news. I don’t think enough people read the articles on this site for it really to have a negative effect on a game (unless it’s inherently that terrible), so reviews like this serve mainly to ‘announce’ a game’s release, and maybe give a little background on it, the major points, etc.

      Agreed on the trailer; it was epic in January, and it’s still epic in December. Between that and the NEARLY EIGHT MINUTE story-primer, Cromo Dynamix goes above and beyond what normal indie games do, that’s for sure. 😀

  4. mmh code 4 error… I bought more than 20 XBLIG games until now, for a total of four code 4 error (unplayable game). Even for less than 1 euro, it is not funny.

    1. Yeah, this one was a strange one, as I could replicate it each time I loaded the trial game up. I think on the fourth try it was fine, and then once I had purchased the game, it never happened again. The Dev mentioned that it might be related to a trial bug he found after the game was already approved, where some of the ships / levels are unlocked from the start. Either way, Code 4s are never fun. 🙂

    2. What was the code 4? I will relay the information to the developer on the forums so he or she can address it.

  5. Of course, rather than take my word for it, you could try the game for yourself. I have one code for Cromo Dynamix to give away, much thanks to developer ElvishJumpSuit. Reply to this comment, and the game is yours!

    1. Yea wow…that took all day….even though I was skipping on it I thought well for free I might as well get it…but then I thought how that wouldn’t be right and I left it for someone else to claim but then it kept going unclaimed….fought the demons and glad someone else finally took it. LOL

    2. Hey, it’s like I’ve said in the past, don’t be shy about taking games multiple days in a row, etc. If you’re interested, pluck up the code while you can. That’s partially why I’ve changed my format for giveaways, choosing random times after the review has been posted to mention it. Should give everybody a clear shot at it, so take it if and when you can. Carpe diem, and seize the carp. All that good stuff. 😀

    3. I’m starting to rack up those down votes. Love it. I get them when I ramble and I ramble a lot so whoever is not liking my comments I’ll have you know I LOVE IT!!!

  6. Well at least there is a single player campaign. At least that is what I thought I read. And to be honest I’m a major twin stick shooter geek but even I will shy away from this. Send my apologies to the developer but as of late even I, one of the last hold outs still playing only on my 360 will not be buying this game and have no interest. Great write up however Tim as always you da man!!!

    1. There is an SP campaign, which is 30 missions long, looks like (I made it to the 14th mission and cut off there). From what I played, it’s just a series of dogfighting / deathmatch stuff, no real variation. It’s probably going to be the only way for most players to actually play it, as there was zero people online that I found.

      I suspect part of that has to do with the fact that the game feels really familiar to anyone that’s played an XBLIG. The music is always borrowed, the art style is flat, and the gameplay itself is the same ship combat I’ve seen a hundred times over. No real spark or originality to it, which I feel bad about saying. The Dev is a real nice guy, has kept in contact regarding the game and development of it, but yeah, it’s a pass on this one.

    2. I know it’s hard to speak the truth and not say what people what to hear but most times people will respect you more when you do. Even if they don’t like you in the moment.

    3. Very true, good sir, and that’s what I hope for when writing these ‘unfavorable’ reviews up. Unless a game is comically bad, or just asking for a shelling with its ridiculous playtime / gameplay, I try to be fair about it. It’s harder when I’ve spoken with the Dev previously, and again, he’s been really great throughout the process. I wish him nothing but the best going forward, and hopefully any review (good or bad) gets enough people to at least try out the game for themselves.

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