Preview with hands-on video: Caligo Chaser – Chasing after whispers of glory

Some time ago I was blessed with an invitation to a closed beta-test of a new RPG from Com2US – creators of  arguably the best Action/RPG on the iDevice at the moment – Inotia 2: A Wanderer of Luone (TMA Review – Kiss It). They have undertaken an ambitious task of claiming the crown of side scrolling Beat-em-up RPGs currently held by HYBRID: Eternal Whisper (TMA Review – Kiss it). And today I’m going to give you a preview of what will be in store once Caligo Chaser is released – with video nonetheless!

Well, Caligo Chaser is out now! Check it out at the App Store:

Caligo Chaser Com2uS Inc., Caligo Chaser – $2.99

The story in Caligo Chaser revolves around Chic – a young aspiring Private Knight – auspiciously shortened to PK in many conversations. As some of you may know, PK is a common abbreviation for “Player Killer” in MMORPG games – the people who run around often terrorizing newbies and such. Anyway, back to business. Having just arrived in the land of Emporioum, he’s immediately met by the president who reminds him of the 100,000 leones he’s owed. Now Chic has no choice but to join the PK to earn wealth and glory in an attempt to pay back the loan. And maybe get a girl along the way as well.

Gameplay wise Caligo Chaser is a classic side-scrolling beat-em-up. Each level is split into several stages and the only way to progress is to kill everyone on each stage. The game features the classic simple strikes and dashes, along with charge strikes and skills. A nice touch is that you’re not only scored on the completion of each level, but are also awarded extra loot depending on how well you did (which gives an extra incentive to make a perfect sweep). Levels are punctuated by towns and neutral areas where you can talk to people, buy items and even do some tinkering with equipment – like enchanting pieces off it and even combining elements to get completely new gear.

One of the more interesting features of Caligo Chaser is character development. On each level-up you will get 5 stat points to distribute. All of the effects are immediately shown in a detailed stat screen, so it’s easy to understand and tailor to your own preferences. The skills are not upgraded using stat points though. Rather they are equipped via special passive and active skill stones. The most interesting innovation is that you can actually enchant and upgrade the skill stones as you can with any other piece of equipment, instead of waiting for the proverbial power up.

The graphics in Caligo Chaser follow the Japanimation traditions and include some of the most detailed art I’ve seen on the iDevice in such a genre. The character’s appearances changes depending on the equipment and even the hair moves. The music is also very good, offering the right mood for the moment.

The biggest flaw of Caligo Chaser at the time of the beta-test, one that is likely to have been addressed by the developers already, is the interface. The game features a mix of touch-based and d-pad controlled menus, huddled in the center of screen. The buttons and text are too small to press or read comfortably. The battle interface  on the other hand is better, though the D-Pad is not as responsive as I would’ve liked. But again, it was only a beta and will probably have been fixed by the time of its release.

From what I’ve seen  Caligo Chaser is an excellent game and a real contender to take the beat-em-up RPG crown away from Hybrid. My only concern at the moment is the interface, but hopefully Com2US will have listened to the feedback provided at the beta-testing and made any necessary tweaks for that extra polish. The other issue that may affect initial sales is the seemingly coinciding release of Zenonia 2 – one of the most anticipated games of 2010. Who will rule the genre in a month? We’ll just have to see!

With this I officially declare Caligo Chaser preTouched!

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