Out of all of the demos I played this month, Coromon is the one that I’m most looking forward to. I’ve played the demo for nearly 9 hours which is more time than I’ve dedicated to many full games. With the Coromon demo though I stopped because I got stuck on a puzzle of all things. If the name sounds familiar, and if its store page on Steam looks familiar, that’s because Coromon is taking a lot of inspiration from Pokemon. When you start you make a simple, androgynous avatar, give it a name, an outfit, and send it off to begin working for Lux Solis. You’re given a Lux Phone, Gauntlet, and your very own Coromon partner to help you with your research. Like with Pokemon, Coromon research includes the capture of as many different wild Coromon as you can get your hands on.
(Must Collect All of Them!)
Catching Coromon works exactly the same as catching Pokemon. You send the Coromon at the head of your party out and have it battle against wild Coromon. Once you reduce a wild Coromon’s HP enough, without knocking it out, you can throw a Coromon Spinner to capture it. There are standard spinners with Silver and Gold variants that act as Great and Ultra Pokeballs. There are also elemental Spinners that have a better chance of catching Coromon of the corresponding element, and Special Spinners with their own particular uses. Shocking or putting a Coromon to sleep will increase your chances of catching it, just like in Pokemon. Gift Coromon are here, and like with Pokemon your first Coromon is given to you by a Lux Solis authority figure. You can trade Coromon with specific NPCs, and you can also evolve Coromon to get new ones. All of the Coromon you’ve seen and caught are recorded in your Database in the pause menu. If a trainer sends out a Coromon who you haven’t fought in the wild your database will tell you if that Coromon can be found in an area you’ve already been to, otherwise it will say its location in the wild is unknown.
There doesn’t seem to be a trainer league or gyms, but there’s still a lot of trainers out there looking to prove their worth by beating you in a Coromon dual. There’s also a rival team to deal with, Umbra Noctis. Trainer battles occur when a Coromon trainer sees your gauntlet (or you see theirs) and you two ‘lock eyes’. I think the Gauntlet may also launch Spinners to catch Coromon, it’s unclear. The combat here is no joke either; like with Pokemon this is a turn-based JRPG featuring elemental types, type advantages, and multiple-Coromon encounters. Where things begin to deviate are the types of Corormon you can train. In Pokemon, your starter is either a fire, water, or grass type, but in Coromon you choose between a fire, water, or ice type Coromon. There are fewer Coromon types than there are Pokemon types, and there are some types that only apply to attacks without being applied to Coromon themselves. You’re given a book fairly early on that details everything you’ll need to know to be successful in Coromon, which is fantastic because Pokemon has been tight-lipped on how some of its mechanics work.
(Not gonna lie, I had trouble finding images)
There are 13 types, but of those only 7 can be applied directly to Coromon. Normal, Electric, Sand, Fire, Ice, Water, and Fire types can be applied to Coromon as well as moves, but Magic, Foul, Heavy, Air, Poison, and Cut apply only to attacks. It’s awkward at first, but in practice combat is familiar and fairly smooth. To simplify things there’s a small indicator on the attack screen during a fight that tells you if an attack will be very effective or not very effective (this can be toggled off in the options menu). Even if you have a type advantage, Coromon of similar levels to yours can absolutely hold their own against you. Most of the trainers I’ve battled have had diverse teams of Coromon as well which was a pleasant surprise. By default you can’t switch your Coromon if you knock out a trainers’ during battle, but this can also be toggled off to make this feel like more of a Pokemon experience.
Like in Pokemon, Coromon learn attacks as they level up. Unlike Pokemon, you have to select and hold the spacebar on an attack in-battle to see what it does (if you’re using keyboard controls like I did). There isn’t a written attack name and that confused me at first. Unlike in Pokemon, the attacks your Coromon can use don’t have separate values to show how many times they can be used before you’ll need to rest or recover. Your Coromon have an SP value in addition to their HP value instead. Each move costs a certain amount of SP, or skill points, to use. If you run out of SP during a battle, you can choose to rest for one turn to recover half of your overall SP pool. It leaves you vulnerable for a turn, but I think it’s a better alternative than something like Struggle in Pokemon.
Another way Coromon subverts Pokemon is that even though Coromon can only use up to four moves in battle, the new moves they learn through leveling up can be activated or deactivated whenever you might want to use them. You can customize your Coromon’s moveset without worrying about permanently losing a move that you like. HM’s aren’t a thing here either, instead the demo will provide you with a Gauntlet upgrade that lets you push heavy things away from you and a helmet that you can wear which lights up dark areas. There’s a special Coromon trait that also lights up dark areas, but it’s not necessary to progress if you have that helmet.
(Push it real good)
There are physical attacks, special attacks, buffs, and debuffs which you can choose to use in battles. Most Coromon have traits which can become active during a fight. If an enemy Coromon uses a status-attack to debuff my Nibblegar (my Water Starter) for example, they have a trait that will raise another one of their stats to compensate. I also have a Bazzer (an electric beetle) that can shock (paralyze) a Coromon if they use a physical attack against it. I haven’t noticed an equivalent to Rare Candy from Pokemon in Coromon, but there is an experience share. In Coromon it’s called a Lazy Gem, and it’s a hold item that you can give to a Coromon if you want to train it without putting it at the front of your party and switching them out early on in a battle. If one of your Coromon are defeated in battle, but you ultimately win that battle, the fainted Coromon will gain experience points and potentially level up.
In addition to Coromon levels Coromon have Potential which seems to grow as you gain EXP points, but at a different rate than your overall Coromon level. Once you level up your Potential you’re given skill points to distribute as you please between HP, SP, speed, attack, special attack, defense, and special defense. These stats will increase through normal leveling too, but it’s nice to have some say over how your Coromon develop. Your Coromon can evolve, and if one of them hits a level where they can evolve, they’ll go right ahead and do that immediately, even in the middle of a battle.
In Pokemon there’s a very small chance that you can find or hatch a differently colored, or shiny, Pokemon. Coromon mixes the shiny concept with the Potential system. Most Coromon are Standard, but sometimes you’ll find a differently colored Coromon which will either have Potent or Perfect Potential. All three variations have different color palettes so it’s easy to tell at a glance if one Coromon has greater potential than another. It seems like the higher Potential a Coromon has the less likely it is to have an additional trait, but there is an NPC that can give (or change) your Coromon traits somewhat early on.
At first I thought a Coromon with a higher Potential (say Potent instead of Standard) would get more skill points whenever their skill value levels up, but while I played the Standard Coromon and Potent Coromon I leveled up would always get 3 Skill Points per Skill-Up. There is a trainer’s guide that lays out how Potential works in-game, but I don’t fully understand how deep the Potential mechanics go. It could just be that you’re given those Skill Points more often if your Coromon is more potent. It seems like Potential is the Coromon equivalent to Pokemon’s IV stats, but in Pokemon those numbers are so well hidden that it took hacking to uncover them at all.
(Make it rain)
There are 2 save slots in the demo, and multiple difficulty levels that you can play on. Easy mode features a permanent 50% discount in shops and you can revive Coromon using normal healing items. Normal is normal, and it’s what I played on. If one of your Coromon get knocked out in Hard mode they’ll leave your party forever, and you aren’t able to run from any battles. Insane mode takes everything from hard mode, and takes away your ability to use recall items (so you can’t teleport out of wild areas), and you can only catch one Coromon per area by first using a lure. I was never so into Pokemon that I felt compelled to try a Nuzlock, but Coromon built that into its difficulty settings.
There are a couple other small things about Coromon that I want to mention so here they are with a bit less structure. In the demo Coromon don’t seem to have genders which would suggest that Coromon breeding may not be possible. Since there isn’t a set release date yet, there’s a possibility that this can still be added to the game later. If not, genders and breeding weren’t added to Pokemon until Gold and Silver. If you encounter multiple Coromon in the wild, it’s possible to catch any or all of them whenever you feel like during battle without knocking out all but one. Your player character has a voice, and responds to NPCs when they're spoken to. There are clearly marked side quests given to you by random NPCs which is something I can’t remember being present in any previous Pokemon game. For the first time in years I’ve felt the need to do serious level grinding to make progress through the early-game areas of Coromon. I have a robust team at the moment, with a lot of my Coromon having evolved once, but I haven’t really swept any random trainers.
Playing Coromon reminds me a lot of playing a theoretical post-Black/White generation of Pokemon. I love the aesthetic and the world that’s being built up is really intriguing to me. The ambiguity of the character, the customization options, and the set-up of the plot does more to immerse me in the world than just being a 10 or 11 year old kid again. The world map is obscured until you travel to each new town, giving the Velua Region a sort of mystique. I’ve seen a couple of other Pokemon-likes prop up, but this one feels like it’s going to be an absolute must-buy, maybe even on day one.