Chenso Club – Review
Follow Genre: Roguelike, Action
Developer: Pixadome
Publisher: Aurora Punks, Curve Games
Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
Tested On: PC

Chenso Club – Review

Site Score
6.5
Good: Decent ideas
Bad: Too linear, lack of variation, mediocre combat
User Score
5.0
(1 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 5.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Smash Bros is a widely successful series that has inspired many other fighting games. With floatier combat than others in the genre and utilizing the screen borders as kill-planes, the series has always offered something unique. However, what if some of these mechanics were extrapolated into a roguelike? From this question, Chenso Club was seemingly created, combining the Smash series rules and combat with a roguelike structure. Here is what it has to offer.

Story

As is common with roguelikes, Chenso Club’s story is nothing to write home about. Presented as a small comic before each level, the game follows the Chenso Club, a group of girls who have teamed up in order to repel an alien invasion. Out of these girls, the only one who gets any amount of characterization is Blue, an android who comes to life after absorbing an alien life force. Throughout the game, a barebones plot providing a reason for the alien invasion is provided, but this offers little more than a setup for the gameplay.

Graphics

The game’s graphics are made up of highly detailed pixel art featuring cutesy enemy and character designs. Featuring a handful of different areas, each with its unique enemies, the game offers a good amount of variety, without reutilizing anything more than necessary. Each of said areas also features a completely unique theme completely different from the rest, which at times even slightly alters the gameplay.

Sound

Chenso Club’s sound design is rather good, featuring an entertaining soundtrack and decent sound effects. That said, the sound effects aren’t particularly noteworthy and can become somewhat grating when constantly repeated throughout a run.

Gameplay

As previously mentioned, Chenso Club is a roguelike by way of Smash Bros. What this entails is that players will be tasked with clearing rooms full of enemies by using combos while minding attacks, hazards, and even the screen edges. In order to do so, players will have access to light and heavy attacks alongside a dash that provides invincibility frames. The effectiveness of these skills can also be increased by obtaining items at shops and random events.

Similarly to games like Revita, Chenso Club’s shop utilizes a somewhat unique currency: the player’s health. By spending life force, players will be able to afford a slew of different products, later regaining it by defeating enemies. However, the game doesn’t seem to properly optimize this, with store costs later into the game increasing to the point where a room full of enemies might not recover the amount of health spent.

The issues with the health system also apply to taking damage and fights in general, being even more glaring in harder difficulties. While players will take large amounts of damage from enemies, kills will only drop a slight amount of health, with no other reliable way of healing or increasing the amount dropped. In order to counteract this damage scaling, players are somewhat forced almost exclusively to take health upgrades from bosses, instead of the alternative damage ones, unless they wish to risk a glass cannon approach.

Curiously enough, despite being a game focused on combat and, supposedly, combos, Chenso Club’s fighting is somewhat awkward. Aerial combat is non-existent, with no air combos longer than a pair of hits, and land combat isn’t much better. While players can spam light attacks which will smoothly flow into one another, using heavy ones stops said flow in its tracks. This is even clearer with heavier characters like Carmine, who need a moment after heavy attacks. The combat is further bogged down by the inability to efficiently stop ongoing special attacks and their lack of iframes, often leaving players open to damage. A good example of this could be vertical movement attacks, which propel the player up but leave them at the mercy of any attack in their path.

Similarly, the roguelike part of the game is not particularly well implemented either. Following an “act” structure, the game sees players going through six levels per act, each divided into three rooms. The structure of these acts is linear and doesn’t change between runs, and only the order of rooms, random events, and enemies are altered. Even then, the game’s smaller pool of unique rooms, items, and enemies often makes players go through the same motions in different runs, with little more than minor variations.

This is exacerbated by the lack of uniqueness in pickups, the defining feature of most roguelikes. Instead of unique abilities or effects, most pickups provide small passive upgrades, such as more damage or an extra dash. While active items also exist, their pool is even smaller and their effects can only be leveraged occasionally, requiring enemy kills to recharge. Said use condition also limits their usefulness in boss fights, since most bosses don’t spawn enough minions to recharge the more powerful effects.

Conclusion

Overall, Chenso Club is an alright game that doesn’t utilize its potential and ultimately only provides an average roguelike experience. While the game is not bad, its linearity and lack of uniqueness between runs end up providing little reason to finish it more than once, especially with its runs taking almost two hours on normal difficulty. Sold for $/€14.99/£11.99, it is recommendable to wait for a sale or large content updates before picking up the game.

Personal Opinion

“I honestly don’t have much more to say about Chenso than what was mentioned in the review. The game is serviceable, but it honestly doesn’t offer satisfying combat or a reason to replay it like I would with any other roguelike. Even if it offers the option to loop a run before facing the final boss, there isn’t even a reason to do so other than to recover health. The game itself seems confused about its roguelike nature, since several of its sections like the side scroller boss fights feel too scripted to fit a genre where variation is key. If you want to approach this game as a two-hour game with Smash mechanics and a bit of randomness, you’ll probably be entertained. Other than that, if you expect a true roguelike you’ll be disappointed.”

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Rating: 5.0/10 (1 vote cast)
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Chenso Club - Review, 5.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

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