I take all forms of entertainment (video games, films, books, TV shows, comics, etc.) and review it for the delight of the readers of this blog.
Crimson Alliance ReviewDecember 13th, 2011 at Tue, 13th, 2011 at 2:03 am by andrewnisargand
There are very few game genres I will always be biased to. These are mainly games in the turn based strategy genre (I played chess far too much in my younger years and now I’m programmed to enjoy turn based strategy), hack n’ slash (just love the old brutal arcade style fighters), action RPGs (your Deus Ex’s, Mass Effects, and such fall under here), and dungeon crawlers. The best way to explain what these games are is to use examples, the best example being the Gauntlet series. Basically wander through dungeons, slaughtering massive hordes of enemies, gathering tons of gold, using that to get new weapons, random upgrades, etc. Most of these times these games offer couch cooperative play which makes it even more awesome as there is nothing better in gaming than to gather a bunch of friends over and throw of an alien menace, diabolic supervillian, russians, etc. This game genre has sadly waned a bit over the years, with the only good ones in the genre that come to mind that have been made recently being the X-Men legends series, at least from my experience (Marvel Ultimate Alliance is utterly terrible). However, a friend of mine was determined to prove me wrong. And I am really glad he did.
Crimson Alliance deals with the story of Direwolf, Moonblade, and Gnox and their journey across the devastated lands of the empire to confront the evil Soul Siren for the sake of their empress. They also obviously have their own problems to deal with, and also generally hate each other which adds a nice sense of personality to the characters and the game in general. The game’s cutscenes actually have fantastic voice actors and when combined with the incredibly comic-ish style of artwork, and the fact that the cutscenes are stills, it makes you actually want to watch them which is SHOCKING for a game on the xbox live arcade. The plot get’s incredibly intriguing once the game gets going and it truly stays that way which is once again shocking for a dungeon crawler, which really don’t have much characterization besides “I MUST SMASH TINGS” and plot besides “EVIL THING DIES”.
Does the gameplay match this however? Yeah it really does actually. It’s dungeon crawling at it’s simplest, run around kill hordes of enemies, gather as much gold as possible, upgrade your weapon, secondary weapon and armor, and proceed to use said upgrades to kill even more stuff. One of the best parts is how truly unique each of the heroes feel. Each one has four moves which are a different depending on the characters. For example, the caster can throw fireballs, summon pillars of ice, blast the area with electricity and teleport while the mercenary has a slash attack, heavy attack, shield bash, and his dash. Each one of the characters moves is available at the start (with the exception of the ultimate move which you earn by gathering amulets), but each of the three offensive moves can be upgraded by five levels by using your equipment. See your equipment gives a certain number of points in each stat and as long as you are wearing aforementioned equipment you get your stats upgraded. A higher stat will give more reach, more damage and make the move faster. This means that an assassin with a level one slash skill will likely not do all that much against higher level monsters. It’s a very simple way of managing stats and very easy to get used to. The levels are sadly not very diverse but they all do have a massive number of secret areas which will give more weapons, gold, etc. to the party. That’s another thing I forgot to mention: you gain gold as a party. You don’t spend as a party, but you gain it equally. This is an incredibly useful upgrade as in games like Gauntlet it was infuriating as the gold went to whoever found it and in X-Men Legends you had a massive pool of tech bits (the game’s currency) which made purchases a party decision. Continuing onwards though, the game is actually incredibly difficult, when put to the higher difficulties of course. A friend of mine and I opted to start the game on normal and we started out thinking the game was far too easy. Then we upped the difficulty and got COMPLETELY DESTROYED. The difficulty levels are miles apart and I would suggest you get used to normal before going anywhere near hard mode.
This game is currently selling at only 1200 points which in my opinion is an absolute steal. Couch co-op games are extraordinarily rare in the modern internet era, with everyone wanting you to play on xbox live instead of socializing with friends of yours on your own couch. As far as things go though, this game is a huge throwback to all the old dungeon crawlers like Gauntlet and it’s nostalgic and amazingly fun. I give it a solid four out of five stars.