Music Is Your Weapon in Chroma from Harmonix

Jonathan R. Clauson - Author

Nov. 7 2017, Updated 2:43 a.m. ET

Chroma from Harmonix is a new arena shooter for the PC that brings together the talent from Dance Central and Counter Strike: Global Offensive. Announced today, the game is currently in a closed Alpha state, and interested gamers can sign up for a chance at limited seats to the party.

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Harmonix was at the forefront of the music game genre during the previous console generation. Starting with Guitar Hero, they went onto develop Rock Band which led to an abundance of plastic guitars, keyboards and drums being played at group parties and are now collecting dust in closets across the country or being sold on eBay. Other games include the well received Dance Central as well as the iOS App, VidRhythm which aims to help the musically challenged in making their own music and videos and sharing them with the world.

Now that the music party genre is well and truly spent thanks to multiple iterations from EA and Activision, Harmonix is banking on its ability to capture the joy of music and gaming again but this time with a mouse and keyboard rather than a plastic guitar.

Chroma is a new game being developed for the PC with help from Hidden Path Entertainment whose credits include Counter Strike: Global Offensive and Defense Grid: The Awakening. It will be released on Valve’s Steam platform. Rather than bullets and grenades you will be fighting with music in a class based arena setting similar to Counter Strike. The tagline from Harmonix is, “Music is your weapon. Sound is your arsenal”

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Chroma is still in very early Alpha stage, meaning the features and mechanics are very much a work in progress and marks for the earliest reveal of a game on the part of Harmonix. Because the previous outings into music based action games have been hit or miss, it makes sense for Harmonix to let gamers tickle the ivories before the whole symphony arrives to see if this is a composition worth writing.

Rez and Child of Eden are both musical combat games where the player travels down a linear path and uses the controls to blast targets to progress through the game. While each experiment with motion controls, neither found an audience outside the gaming enthusiast press and a small, but dedicated, following. Chroma hopes to take the combat from a first person shooter and harmonize it with music to make an experience that will either advance the genre or further relegate it to the back room at the local record shop.

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Speaking to Polygon about this very point Harmonix CEO stated, “For this game to genuinely be about music in any meaningful way, we’ve needed to make considered deltas off of established shooter gameplay tropes,” he said. “We want to focus the player’s attention on the music and get them into a musical flow state through gameplay.”

The music game genre has either had its final movement or Chroma could usher in a new opus for the masses. Other developers have tried in both the console and hand-held space with varying amounts of success. If Chroma from Harmonix is able to make the genre relevant again count me first in line to buy a ticket to the performance.


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