Being a couple of years shy of 30, the 16-bit game consoles hold a special place in my heart. While the NES was my introduction to gaming, memories of SNES, Genesis, and TurboGrafx 16 are by far my fondest. For this reason, my perception of Caligo Chaser may be more than a bit skewed. I’ll admit up front; I suspected I’d love this game from the second I heard of it. Playing Caligo confirmed my suspicions; it is a fantastic game.
Caligo Chaser by Com2Us is an Action/RPG title with a look and feel inspired by the golden age of 16-bit gaming. The core gameplay in Caligo involves interacting with the denizens of the central hub city. From there you’ll be given quests, buy, sell, and upgrade items, and progress through the story.
Venturing out of the city takes you out into a world map where you select which locations to travel to; this is a Super Mario World-style world map where you select areas as opposed to a Final Fantasy world map that you play through. From there you’ll navigate through the side-scrolling combat areas defeating monsters, gaining experience, and collecting items.
The battle is reminiscent of the side-scrolling brawlers of yore like Final Fight and the TMNT arcade games. Once combat is complete, you return to town, talk to folks, and grab more quests. The result is a fascinating and fun mash-up of various early-90s genres and styles. Com2Us expertly combines these elements into a game that is fresh, pure, and a blast to play.
There are no two ways about it, Caligo Chaser is gorgeous. Caligo is a game that looks nostalgic and familiar; however, by taking advantage of modern smartphone hardware, Com2Us has created a game that looks significantly better than the games that inspired it. Everything in the Caligo is bright, colorful, and full of life. Each area has its individual look, the central town is highly detailed, and the character art is fantastic. While at first glance games like Chrono Trigger or Link to the Past may spring to mind, when compared head-on Caligo looks significantly better. Com2Us has crafted a sight to behold on big bright 16:9 screens in 24-bit color.
Just about the only complaints I could have about the game visually pertain more to its interface than its graphics. There are an on-screen d-pad and action buttons for players who are using the touch screen controls. They conceal a significant part of the screen but if you are playing with the touch screen that is to be expected. My gripe is, if you are playing with the keyboard controls, it would be nice to have the option to shut the on-screen controls off.
My other minor complaint is that some of the on-screen menu items are small and hard to touch quickly. If you are playing with the touch screen, you might mistakenly hit the wrong spell or item because of it. None of this detracts too terribly from the visuals, but it would be good for these issues to get worked out in an update. On the whole, however, Caligo is a gorgeous game that’ll make life-long console gamers drool.
One could be forgiven for thinking that Caligo Chaser would score low in this area. At first glance Caligo may appear to be just a nostalgia-driven cash-in; that couldn’t be further from the truth. Com2Us took some classic gameplay elements and combined them in a cool new way. While I’ve played plenty of 16-bit Action/RPGs, I’ve never played one quite like Caligo Chaser. That’s right, Com2Us delivered a new game in a classic style, one of the loftiest goals in modern game design.
I can’t think of a particular game that Caligo could be said to be a “clone”. It’s various parts remind me of older games: Zelda II, Ys III, Double Dragon, and others; but the total package is unique and not something I’ve seen before. While older games were much more strictly linear, Caligo’s hub-and-world-map design allow for a bit more player choice. You can select which quests you want to play and when. You can come up with the main quest, spend time running errands for town folk, or go out and grind for gold and experience. A modern game design mechanic wrapped in classic gameplay and visuals; Com2Us pulls off something special here.
How good Caligo Chaser feels to play is going to depend on what device you play it on. Com2Us provided two control styles for Caligo: keyboard and touch screen. The keyboard controls are sublime and elevate the game up to a whole different level. The touchscreen controls are mediocre at best and border on poor; it’s a very nasty gap between the two. The device you play on is going to affect how well Caligo controls for you significantly.
The keyboard controls are fantastic. I felt like I was playing Caligo the way it was meant to be played. After taking some time to adjust to the key mapping (why do Android game devs consistently leave out the option to custom map keys?), it started to become second nature. Playing Caligo with the keyboard felt like playing it with a gamepad which just served to enhance further the authenticity of the console Action/RPG experience Caligo strives for.
The touch screen controls, on the other hand, were not much fun to play with. The game lacks any multi-touch support so pressing the d-pad requires consciously not pushing the action buttons and vice-versa. This strikes me as an utterly bizarre oversight that artificially inflates Caligo’s difficulty. Hopefully, Com2Us will either resolve this in an update. Until then, if you’ve got a Nexus 1 or another keyboard-less phone you should still play Caligo Chaser, but unfortunately, some of the joy will be lost.
I haven’t completed Caligo Chaser yet. I try my damnedest to finish every game before reviewing them, but Caligo is not like most mobile games. Caligo Chaser is a full Action/RPG experience; if I were to wait for the site might not get updated for another week or two! I can blow through most games for a review in 3 or 4 hours; typically far less. I’m a couple of hours into Caligo, and the story is just starting to get going!
From my current perspective, Caligo Chaser oozes replay value. You will play this game for a long time over multiple sessions. Fitting in other games while reviewing I expect to play this game for weeks. If my opinion changes I’ll update the review, but at press time this game gets high marks for getting me back into the game over and over again.
Closing Comments & Score
Com2Us blew me out of the water on this one. Caligo Chaser is a dark, enthralling, and most importantly fun, Action/RPG that builds on and extends well-worn gameplay mechanics into something new and modern. Caligo Chaser isn’t just another mobile game. It is a full console experience in your pocket with enough of the fat trimmed to keep it ready for on the go play in bite-size chunks. If you love Action/RPGs, Caligo Chaser is a must have. Scratch that; if you like games at all Caligo Chaser is a must buy.