Croixleur Sigma is one of those games that you’ll know if you like it or not within five minutes of playing it.
Originally released on PC, but presented here on PS4 with much improved character models and a whole host of additional extras and gameplay tweaks, Croixleur Sigma is an arena-based brawler with a nonsensical story about two houses warring for military and political power. Whilst you certainly shouldn’t buy it for its narrative depth or complexity (which starts at zero and never moves from there, unless you find young anime girls fighting about taking baths together akin to Shakespeare), you should consider buying it for its colourful visuals and fun combat.
The premise of Croixleur Sigma is simple: throughout its various modes you defeat hordes of monsters in a small circular arena, before moving through a portal that takes you to the next floor for you to do it all again. If you think that sounds repetitive, well yeah, it is, but for short sharp bursts it’s briskly-paced action-packed fun. And there’s a lot of fun to be had. You’ve got a story mode, a score attack mode, a survival mode, a challenge mode; and if they’re not enough you’ve even got an extra mode and a dungeon mode to unlock. Additionally, most modes even allow a second local player to join, letting you enjoy some manic couch co-op action. All in all, Croixleur Sigma’s premise may be simple, but it’s got a lot of ways of serving it to you to keep it interesting.
So, with its ludicrous story and basic premise, you’d hope that Croixleur Sigma’s combat, its raison d’etre, would possibly be deep; perhaps have hidden complexities that make it easy to pick up yet hard to master. Unfortunately it doesn’t, although that doesn’t stop it from being somewhat entertaining.
Your basic attack is literally just that, a standard slash attack that can be repeated three times to form a basic combo. You can buy and equip an item that extends the combo limit to four hits, but that’s about as exciting as your standard attack is ever going to get. Luckily then, you have a couple of additional tricks up your sleeve for a bit of extra variety.
Each of the game’s female protagonists – of which there are four once you’ve successfully managed to unlock them all – can amass and use an arsenal of 10 weapons, each with their own stats and unique special attack. Up to four of these weapons can be equipped before you head out at the start of each mode, with you able to switch between them at will by using their special attack providing you have the required MP. Each of the four playable ladies also has a unique secret art at their disposal – a highly damaging area attack that can only be used sparingly.
Aside from attacks you also have few other moves at your disposal, including an MP-consuming dash manoeuvre that lets you evade attacks thanks to a small window of invincibility, a standard jump that lets you get up close and personal with airborne attackers, and the Mana Burst, an explosion of energy that expends a large amount of MP in exchange for knocking back all surrounding enemies. The wonder of Croixleur Sigma’s combat system however, and what makes the game a joy to play despite its simplicity, is that nearly every move and attack can be cancelled into another. Soon after you’ve started playing you’ll be dashing gracefully across the screen, combining standard combos with special attacks to dispatch foes before jumping and dashing again to take out a few flying critters.
To give the game a modicum of depth and a touch of character customisation and development, every enemy you defeat in Croixleur Sigma drops you some coins which, unsurprisingly, you can use to purchase a large number of skill laden items. There are items that can increase your abilities, such as the amount of time you are invincible during a dash. There are items that provide bonuses, such as increasing the number of coins dropped by enemies. There are even items that allow you to change your moveset to mimic that of one of the other girls. Initially you can only equip one of these items, but by buying more and more as you can afford them, you can increase your equip limit until you’ve got a whole host of skills at your disposal. No matter how many skills you have though, you never feel like you’re overpowered.
On normal difficulty Croixleur Sigma offers a decent challenge, especially for those seeking to place high on its worldwide rankings for each mode; a pursuit that may alone make the game a worthwhile purchase for those into score-chasing. Put the difficulty down onto easy however, and enable both the special and move assist functions, and the game pretty much plays itself, with your chosen femme fatale dashing and jumping to enemies before attacking them with a combination of normal and special attacks as you rhythmically tap a single button. That’s great for children and action game noobs maybe, but really bad for sucking the life out of the gameplay, and also possibly your self-esteem.
Whether or not Croixleur Sigma is worthy of your hard-earned cash squarely rests on what you value the most from the games you play. If you want complex game systems, a strong story, deep character development or varied gameplay, Croixleur Sigma is not the game for you, and should definitely be avoided. If however, you’re looking for cheap thrills that amount to a decent dose of relatively mindless fun, you should maybe give it a try. It may be simple, but Croixleur Sigma has charm, and thanks to its wealth of game modes and unlockables there’s plenty here to keep coming back to.