If you're up for an accessible, hectic action game starring strange little girls, then you could do much worse than Croixleur Sigma – a Japanese indie title that's arrived on the PlayStation 4 after a reasonably successful stint on PC. This enhanced console edition comes with two new playable characters, expanded story episodes, and even a couple of new gameplay modes. It's the definitive edition of this cutesy brawler, then, but is it as fun as its colourful appearance suggests?
Having already mentioned them, we may as well start with the game's visuals, which pop nicely on a good display. While the graphics certainly don't push the limits of Sony's latest machine, the soft art style and smooth framerate make for a pleasant experience. As hinted, it's a colourful, vibrant release, but it does well not to become overbearing.
Much like the framerate, the action itself is smooth. About 99 per cent your playtime will involve dashing around one small, circular 3D arena after another, smacking monsters with various deadly instruments until they're either all wiped out or your own health bar is depleted. As far as game concepts go, it's pretty a simple one, but there's something quite compelling about how straightforward Croixleur Sigma is.
The basics of combat are very accessible, and an easy difficulty option means that anyone can jump in and at least stand a chance against the monster hordes. Alongside a normal combo string, there's a dodge button, a jump button, and multiple ways to pull off special attacks. Generally, fights involve a lot of mobility as enemies appear both on the ground and in the air, while performing quick dashes to skate across the arena is the best way to position yourself.
Put bluntly, Croixleur Sigma is a button-masher, or at least, it is for the first few hours. There's an enjoyable kind of floatiness to attacks and movement that makes the whole thing flow surprisingly well, and once you're used to the overall feel of the game, you slowly begin to realise that there's some depth to its weapon-based special technique system.
There's loot to be had here, but like other role-playing elements of the release, it's not as involved as you may think. Each time that you clear a floor of the beast-infested tower in which the title takes place, there's a chance that you'll be granted a new sword, mace, or hammer. Each one of these armaments boasts its own unique attack, and you can equip four different weapons at a time, potentially allowing you to craft your own combos. It's a decent little system, but seeing as there aren't too many weapons to discover throughout the game, you'll likely find four that you feel comfortable with and stick with them.
What's more, your armaments gradually take damage and eventually break during some gameplay modes, and they'll then be replaced automatically with whatever weapon that you happen to stumble across next. The upside of this is that it forces you to adapt to your ever-changing moveset, but at the same time, it further diminishes the incentive to seek out and combine special attacks that work well together.
With a limited number of enemy types and only four playable characters who all boast the exact same fighting style outside of their ultimate techniques, it won't be long before you feel as though you've seen everything that combat has to offer. In fact, that statement could apply to the title as a whole: Croixleur Sigma's appealing simplicity means that you can dive into it every now and again and have plenty of fun, but the lack of variation can quickly eat away at your enjoyment if you're playing it for hours at a time.
Likewise, despite hosting a number of gameplay modes, there's nothing that specifically demands your attention since they're all just very slight variations of same hack and slash formula. The story mode – if you can call it that – attempts to inject some personality into the four playable characters, but the result is stereotypical, nonsensical anime dialogue that's skippable at best and cringeworthy at worst. Elsewhere, challenge mode, survival, and time attack are all exactly as you'd imagine, while dungeon mode tasks you with rampaging through a certain number of levels. All in all, there's just nothing that really stands out from the crowd – there's no one mode that dares you to come back for more.
Unless you're obsessed with uploading your high scores to the leaderboards, then there's just one aspect of the release that might keep you busy: the accessory system. Hardly unique but the only RPG element of the game that holds any weight, you can spend coins that fall from defeated monsters on numerous cosmetic trinkets that provide bonuses to your chosen character. It's a basic but thoughtful little addition, and it's hard not to think that with more player customisation like this, there'd be a good reason to stick with Croixleur Sigma beyond the odd stint of casual play.
It's also worth mentioning that two-player couch co-op is available in select modes, but again, it's a bit of a missed opportunity. What should be a ridiculous way to combine techniques and unleash crazy combos quickly frustrates, as friendly attacks stagger, stun, and smash your allies out of the way. Annoyingly, this is also the case when fighting alongside the artificial intelligence, which can lead to some unnecessarily tedious boss encounters as your supposed partner consistently whacks you as well as your opponent.
Croixleur Sigma can be entertaining when you're gunning for a high score or if you're in the mood for some relentless action, but there just isn't enough reason to keep coming back once you've sampled each mode and discovered a few favourite weapons. It's an arcade hack and slasher with a colourful, inviting exterior, but much like a bag of Haribo, it's best enjoyed in short bursts – stay too long and you'll soon get sick.