Hack ‘n’ Slash at its most mediocre

If you bought all five games in the Xbox Summer of Arcade this year, then you may already have an idea what Crimson Alliance is all about as this game was the promised bonus for purchasing all those downloadable titles. And after playing through this game, I see why it needed to be thrown in as a bonus.

The game follows the story of a mercenary, an assassin, and a wizard who upon happenstance see their paths cross. And once they do cross, well, their lives are never quite the same. So original, I know. The wizard, who is amnesiac, pleads to the mercenary and assassin to help him on a quest to return to his homeland. Both sensing some easy gold, agree. But once they reach what was supposed to be the glorious harbor city of Byzan, they see that it is smoldering in ruin and has seen the water recede permanently back into the ocean. The mercenary and assassin realize they’ve bitten off more than they can chew, but reluctantly agree to help the wizard get to the root of the problem and maybe jog his memory back up.

The magical powers and fighting in Crimson Alliance are reminiscent of the N64’s Gauntlet Legends, with it’s arcade hack ‘n’ slash feel and the wizard acting as your magic type, the merc as your tank, and the assassin as your long-range/speedster. All while various monsters, mercenaries, and the undead look to take you down across the game’s 11 levels. Each level also has a small horde of collectibles that can power-up your heroes or help reveal more of the game’s back-story. The controls and game play for the most part feel satisfying, even in their repetitive simplicity, and should please any veteran of the arcade who played these ceiling down RPGs in the past. Beyond this though, the game starts to fall flat.

The game tries to tempt you with further replays of the game and particular levels by incorporating a scoring system and awarding you medals and bonus gold depending on how well you do. There are also several challenge arenas where you’ll face off against waves of enemies in the hopes of bonus gold and rare weapons, armor, or shields. Unfortunately, with the generic story, repetitive game play, and the fact it should only take you one play through to find all the items, collectibles, and rack up a decent enough high score, unless you are set on getting platinum, once through should be enough for you.

A possible saving aspect to this abundance of mediocrity would be the game’s options to play with friends either locally or online in co-op, as well as the hint of competition in terms of the scoring system. But again the ball was dropped here as with four slots available and only three classes, it just seems weird to force players into mirror images if you can get a full band of players together and it just comes off as lazy to not have incorporated a fourth character in a type of game that always seems to have plentiful options for people. Another limiting factor here is the fact you have to pay extra to unlock all three characters as playable. If you only buy the game, once you choose your character class, you are locked into it unless you pay extra for the other two. This lack of options is probably the biggest knock against the replay-ability of the game since the experience really would only differ if you changed classes, and forcing players to pay for this option just seems very low end.

When all is said and done, Crimson Alliance is well-polished enough in terms of controls and game play, but is as generic an action/adventure RPG as they come as repetition, multiplayer restrictions, and poor story telling keep this game from being something special. If you got the game as the Summer of Arcade bonus, it was worth it, but I don’t see this as being worth its $15 price tag for all three characters, or $10 for one, and would suggest you look for another downloadable title until this maybe goes on sale.

SUMMARY: Crimson Alliance is well-polished enough in terms of controls and game play, but is as generic an action/adventure RPG as they come in almost every other aspect.

  • THE GOOD: Arcade hack ‘n’ slash action reminiscent of Gauntlet Legends
  • THE BAD:Nothing special to make it stand out above other games of the same genre
  • THE UGLY:Undead zombie priestesses out to consume your soul

SCORE: 6.0