TRAGsoft's Pokémon-esque adventure game shows a lot of promise but is severely hindered by performance issues.
Last summer, I had the chance to preview an indie title that aimed to capture and deliver an experience that Pokémon first coined. The game in question was called Coromon, and featured an 8-bit pixel art style, and was set in a gorgeous world filled to the brim with loveable and marvellous creatures that you could capture and battle with. Needless to say, it hit a lot of the marks that allowed Pokémon to excel, and today, that game has now launched and I have some conflicting opinions about it.
But, before I get into the issues with Coromon, let's talk about the positives. This is a truly beautiful game with some of the most vibrant and astounding pixel locales and visuals I've seen in a long time. Whether you're exploring verdant forests, icy caves, dusty deserts, or the futuristic cities and towns, there's plenty of times where you will just become absorbed and infatuated with the environments. Add to this, the brilliant soundtrack, which hits all the right beats when it comes to an arcade, 8-bit experience, and you get an adventure that you want to get lost in.
The visuals aren't the only positive though, as the gameplay is well thought out and has plenty of depth. There is a hefty list of Coromon to find and collect, be it fiery turtles, sharks with legs, sandy crabs, all the strange combinations that we're used to from Pokémon titles, and of course each of the available types interact with one another in different ways, with some more effective against others. The gameplay revolves around this style, but builds on it with stamina points, which basically asks you to be more strategic with how you use attacks, as each move requires a certain amount of stamina to use, so you really don't want to find yourself mid-battle without any stamina. Then to add another layer, each Coromon has two ways to level up. The typical experience, which increases level and health points, base damage and defence statistics and more, is there, but there's also a new system called Potential, which when levelled up (also through experience) allows you to further expand on these important statistics by using attribute points to improve specific areas - ideal if you want a Coromon with a focus on very high damage, for example. All of this combines for a more complete RPG experience, one where you feel like you have more control over the creatures you command than is the case in Pokémon games.
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And this also goes a step further as the world feels more interactable, as you have the ability to use various moves as the player/trainer to impact the environment. Be it moving heavy objects or using a stinky scent to clear grassy areas of Coromon so you don't get random encounters while passing through. It's simple things that give the adventure life and allows it to not only stand on its own against Pokémon, but also excel in a lot of places.
But, there's a caveat. And for that matter, it's one hell of a caveat. Despite being a game that requires very basic hardware to run (it literally occupied less memory space than Windows Explorer for me when being run), from what I've experienced, Coromon is in a very bad state bug-wise. To the point where after mere minutes of gameplay, visual bugs that see text contorted into unrecognisable symbols, other visual assets replaced by black boxes, and even the art style losing its mind and turning into what can only be described as an abstract painting created by an artist tripping on acid. The game goes from being exciting and promising, to an unplayable mess that you have to literally restart for it to be able to fix itself. It really is saddening to see.
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There's times where you have to aimlessly move around a room to be able to find the exit, because the only parts that aren't blacked out are NPCs. Likewise, I've been in countless battles where the text has contorted, so I don't know the names of the Coromon I'm facing, their levels, their HP, what they're attacking me with. I could play the game blindfolded a lot of the time, and do just as well, as there's very few ways of knowing what you're doing. It's not like this is a ninth generation Pokémon game, where a lot of the creatures you face you recognise, either. It's all new, and it's all infinitely more complicated when in a dialogue-less game, all the text on your screen is displayed as an indecipherable mess.
It might seem harsh to knock Coromon like this, considering its positives, but the experience I've had with this game leaves me with absolutely zero choice but to completely recommend people to avoid this title, until there are some serious bug fixes introduced. Perhaps in the future, when Coromon is actually playable, then I'll return and share some ideally far more positive thoughts.
3 / 10
Visuals, when they work, look great. Gameplay has plenty of depth. Soundtrack is amazing.
The horrendous number of visual bugs render this game essentially unplayable after a few minutes.