So was my initial reaction to the game warranted? Sadly yes.
One by one, our beloved franchises are taken away from us and ruined from the inside until nothing remains but a rotten carcass that nobody wants to touch.
If you asked me before Chimera Squad what was my most anticipated game, I'd have said without hesitation: XCOM3. Now however, I cringe even to think about it.
So what is so wrong about Chimera Squad? The writing. It's childish, vomit inducing garbage. The so called agents all act like stupid spoiled children. The banter is unbearable, out of touch with the events, it's indecorous most of the time. Flinging bad jokes over dead bodies and mutilated civilians.
The story is generic, clichéd and unremarkable. There are no cutscenes. Apart from a few cartoon style slides before main story missions. The campaign is fairly long 10-12 hours to finish. But it has zero replay value in my opinion. I was bored with the game halfway trough the first playtrough.
And why was I bored? Because literally every encounter plays out exactly the same. It is painfully dull. There is no room for proper tactics and strategy. The maps are small and claustrophobic, there is no time or room to flank enemies. You must always be on the offensive, and you must always attack the enemies that come earliest in the turn order. Because every unit on the map has its own turn. So you move one unit, the enemy moves one or two (depending on how many are active on the map) then again you get one move with a squad member. So luck is even more pronounced in this game than in XCOM2. It is luck what benefits or drawbacks the breach points will have before the encounters. It is luck whether your breach attacks will hit the alert enemies or not, it is luck whether the alert enemies will die, or stay standing with 1 hp. It is also luck in which order your squad will move, and whether the unit that gets the first move will be close enough to the enemy that is first in the move order. Each encounter plays out like this: Breach, take out 2-3 enemies during the breach, wear down the rest during turns, and hope their HP runs out before your squad HP runs out. About 90% of the time you must attack. Because if you miss an opportunity to attack that adds one more turn that the enemy will have. Some of your units will not even move at all in encounters just attack from where they entered the room.
The balance of the game is really off. The beginning seemed much harder, after about one thirds into the game it becomes child's play. I even increased the difficulty and still it was easier compared to the first few hours. Resources stop being a problem about the same time too. I've had thousands of unspent cash, intel, and elirium by the end. The city anarchy level never went beyond 3 for me. The Anarchy/Unrest level is basically what replaces the avatar project meter of XCOM2, if it fills up the game is over. The area of operation is restricted to one city, which has 9 regions, each with it's own unrest meter. The concept itself is not that bad, but as I've said the balance is, it's too easy to manage the unrest level, and the difficulty setting only affects the encounter difficulty I think.
The worst part of the game was the UI. For example there is a training room for squad members but you never know which squad member has training oppurtunities. So you select one, select training, then if it says no training available for this unit, then you have to go back to the main menu to select another squad member and try your luck again. It's really annoying having to go trough all 8 after every mission to see whether they have something to train. And the same damn thing with specops as well. Only certain ranked units can do certain missions, but you don't know whether one soldier will meet the rank until you try to send them. Then you are again forced to retreat to the main menu to select someone else and try again.
The most important thing that you have control over is the equipment. And the best equipment is the reflex grip which grants two attacks to your soldiers, which is a must in the late game. You can manufacture basic equipment upgrades, or buy standard equipment from the market. There is also a scavenger market that only opens occasionally that sells unique gear. For example the reflex grip is only avialable there, and it will take about 3/4 through the game by the time you can get one for all 4 units in the squad.
The gameplay itself is no different from XCOM2, the graphics is slightly better and the view is more zoomed in. The in game HUD I think is two steps backwards, it looks uglier and the usability is not great. I accidentally selected the wrong action or wrong enemy to attack on some occasions. They tried to counter the small maps by reducing your mobility. So you barely can move a few squares with one action.
At first I tried to play the game on ironman, but realized it has its own set of issues. Namely that you're not allowed to loose squad members, so basically when an encounter goes wrong there is no point in continuing it, you must restart it anyway. Except in ironman you cannot restart the encounter, so the game turns into trying to deliberately kill your squad to force a restart. And the so called hardcore mode is completely bonkers, and pointless. It means that if you fail the entire campaign is forfeit. If you were allowed to loose people it might be workable, but not like this.
The save system is completely fucked up. The game creates an auto save after and before every action! So if you make one action that creates two new autosaves, overwriting 2 of the 3 max. So you must make manual saves if you want to have a shred of hope of going back to an earlier turn. And the saves aren't even in chronological order in the load menu, so you have to guess which one to load.
Some of the existing bugs of XCOM2 are carried over here, and they even managed to add a few new. Plus the game regularly crashes to the desktop or hangs.
To add insult to injury the game is filled to the brim with current day feminist and social justice propaganda. For example the muton squad member proclaims that human women are traditionally better and stronger warriors than men. The only meele unit in the squad is female. Which if you know me you must know I have absolutely zero problem with. I even prefer it, as usually my squad in XCOM2 was made of nothing but strong female soldiers. But here it is used as a propaganda tool.
The people who wrote this game seem to have no moral compass, everything goes as long as it serves the cause. You know who it reminds me of? Yes antifa. The squad seems to enjoy violence. Which weirded me the fuck out trough the entire game. They don't feel like guardians of peace, they act like rabid bullies and anarchists. If not for the propaganda and bad writing I'd not even have noticed that the white male doesn't exist in the game world. I'm not joking, there are literally no white males in the game. They aren't even good enough for villains now. If that is not a testament to the creators' racism / sexism, then I don't know what is. No, the coms man is not white either, the director is white, and compared to her all other males on the team have much darker skintones. It is their fantasy, the world after the white male genocide.
- Improved graphics
- Fairly long for a budget game
- Sometimes the battles can be exhilarating
- Cringe inducing childish personalities of squad members
- The balance is bad, game gets easier not harder as your progress
- Terrible UI on the base
- Every encounter plays out the same, rinse and repeat
- Gets boring after 4 hours
- Bugs and crashes
- It's a social justice warrior's fantasy world
overall impression: 4/10
I was contemplating refunding the game, but then I slightly overshot the 2 hours limit. Since the game is only $10 now it might be worth picking up, just plug your ears for the conversations.