Chroma returns Harmonix to its roots

Before leading the invasion of our living rooms by plastic instruments, Harmonix developed FreQuency and Amplitude. The games were still musical in nature, but also featured…well…it’s pretty hard to knock into a genre. In a nutshell, you’d control a ship on various tracks. Each track represented an instrument: you’d need to “shoot” the notes on each track to play them. If you were unable to turn tracks on, that part of the song wouldn’t play. For example, if you’re not completing the vocal track of the song, you won’t hear its vocals.

I guess you could call it a musical action rhythm game? Here’s what it looks like in action.

After the release of FreQuency in 2001 and Amplitude in 2003, Harmonix teamed up with Red Octane for a little game called Guitar Hero. The rest, as we all know, is history. But the band has since been retired, aside from an occasional private show in select venues across the world. Harmonix stayed in the pure musical genre with Dance Central, but they’re starting to step back into the innovative realm with Chroma.

As you’d expect from a developer comprised of musicians, Chroma is a musical game. Things get interesting, though when you consider its other genre. Oh you didn’t know? You better call someone; Chroma is a first-person shooter. They’re not going into this alone, though. Developer Hidden Path Entertainment, known for their work on Counter-Strike: GO, is working alongside them. Harmonix’s inexperience in the realm of FPS shouldn’t, in theory, matter.

While many may roll their eyes at “yet another shooter,” things are going to be different. Much different. Various classes will get bonuses depending on how well they keep up with the rhythm of the music. Weapons will be more effective when timed perfectly with a downbeat. It’s as if there are two games that will be played: one against other players, the other against the song. It's not just about shooting your enemies. It's about staying in tune, keeping up with the beat, and jamming out as you kill your opponents. Personally, that's someting I always do when I'm gaming….only I do it in an embarassing manner that nobody will ever see. Now it's going to affect my performance in a game? Good thing I've been "practicing" all these years.

Currently, there are no plans for any licensed music, which means our fears of hating life as we battle it out during Slayer’s “Angel of Death” aren’t going to be realized. Still, this is a beyond intriguing premise. Harmonix has demonstrated in the past that they can create games that combine “traditional” genres and music. They’ll have the chance to do it all over again.

Presumably, the game will appear at PAX East in some fashion since the show takes place in the developer’s backyard