If there’s one studio in the video games industry you wouldn’t attribute to the first-person shooter genre, it’s Harmonix. The American developer, which is perhaps best known for lucrative franchises such as Rock Band and Dance Central, has its esteemed roots in the musical formula. Nevertheless, the company recently unveiled Chroma: a free-to-play, arena-based shooter exclusive to PC platforms.
What gives Chroma its unique, harmonious twist, though, is its rhythmic gameplay. Set within a futuristic arena, players are required to shoot, jump and activate various in-game mechanics in time with a beat. And though the experimental title retains the tropes of many FPS titles — including distinct classes, time-based challenges and primary and secondary weapons — Harmonix’s latest is a hybrid of two very different genres.
“We want to make sure that shooter players can come in, even if they’re not musical, and actually play the game pretty much right away and feel good about it,” the company’s director of publishing, John Drake explained. “And we want to make sure that music fans who aren’t hardcore shooter players have an access point to come and be ‘beat heads’ who are really good at the game in a different way.”
Alongside Harmonix in the developing hot-seat is Hidden Path Entertainment, the same studio that assisted Valve in the production of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive — to hone the shooting mechanics, no doubt. In addition, those aforementioned arenas are entirely dynamic, too, and will change in response to the rhythm by forming sniper towers and new areas of cover.
While Chroma is a free-to-play title, Harmonix has confirmed that there will be customisation options and supplementary maps available to buy. Also, the idiosyncratic project will enter a closed alpha by the end of this month, before becoming available through Steam Early Access later in the year. Here’s hoping the studio implements a dub step gun in the vein of Saints Row IV.
Chroma is expected to launch for PC platforms later in 2014.