September 7, 2011
Crimson Alliance: Review
It’s been some time since I have played a good dungeon crawler that focused more on killing things than dozens of tech trees and confusing menus; Crimson Alliance does just that. Less of a Diablo clone and more of a spiritual successor to Gauntlet Legacy, Crimson Alliance has you slicing, freezing, and detonating enemies across several different map types. The focus is on the action, up to 4 players choosing from 3 different classes, loot that varies your abilities, and enough explosive barrels to make Michael Bay jealous. You have 3 classes to choose from; the Wizard, the Mercenary, and the Assassin. You have the option with 4 players, to have a diverse team or all of the same; diversity is where the fun is.
The game, visually, is impressive for a XBLA game. There is an accent Asian feel to the visuals and music. You will go through the standard mines, but after that the game opens up into a sprawling heat stricken harbor, then to an accent city for the finale. There are around 13 maps, most spread out across a wide terrain, there are a few smaller maps dedicated to boss battles. During your adventure you will come across bonus maps that are small arenas dedicated to combat and overcoming waves of enemies for loot and bonus gold. The enemies vary depending on the area you are in. There is enough variety, from small grunts to larger behemoths that take teamwork to bring down. The story is there, but lacks any real motivation to go from one area to the next, other than to gain loot and serve the next enemy it’s joyful beating it’s about to endure. What story there is, is told well with beautiful painted cut scenes and decent voice acting, it’s just standard fantasy fare; but do you really play a hack and slash for the story?
Crimson Alliance plays like a standard hack and slash dungeon crawler. Instead of having tech trees, things are a bit simple and more approachable for the average player. Each character has three main attack stats and a health stat. The different loot with either help or hinder these stats depending on how you want your character build to be, diverse of concentrate on a certain trait. Each class handles differently, the Mercenary is built like brick house and swings his sword and shield with great might. The Wizard is your typical spell caster with no real physical attacks but does a great job stunning and keeping enemies at bay with his ice spell. The Assassin is quick is well balanced with her throwing daggers and close range attacks. You will find in the field, consumables such as deployable turrets, monster bait, throwing axes, and healing totems that provide instant help. There are visual differences between the weapons that you equip; while your armor only has three different looks between the swell of armors available. You will find loot in the field; there are shops along the path of main map that offer a bevy of supplies some that are far out of reach at least on your first play through. However, you can purchase additional gold with Microsoft points.
Micro-transactions are the key to this title. Crimson Alliance is an experiment of sorts. You are free to download the game and play with any character, but you are only allotted 15 minutes during this trial. You have the option to purchase any one of the three classes for 800 Microsoft points or purchase all of them at a discount rate of 1200 Microsoft points. Gold can be purchased, 40,000 gold for 80 Microsoft points, during your time in the shops. If there is ample DLC, more characters, areas, and loot that is priced right this game could have a good run. As a standalone game it holds its own. The combat is fast and visceral, there is enough variety to handle several runs, and the game is just fun. The RPG elements are light but never take away from the game. It knows it strong points and sticks to them. Anyone looking for a fun hack and slash that isn’t focused on tech trees and stats, take a look, you’ll find an enjoyable game that complements its lineage.
+ Enjoyable combat
+ Great visuals
+ Simple, Light RPG elements
+ Decent voice acting, lovely cut scenes
+ The three classes play differently but complement each other
+ Great alone, Fantastic when played with other people
– Micro-transactions may hurt the future of the title
– Some may find the RPG elements too light
– Story is ho-hum
Final Score – 9/10
Editor’s note: The game, played alone, can take around 8 hours on normal difficulty. If you play with friends, I do recommend turning the difficulty up; normal with even 2 players is breeze worthy.