Certain Affinity’s Crimson Alliance certainly attracts captivated audiences contentedly attacking creatures amok. By which I mean, it’s good. If you purchased or otherwise received all five of this year’s Summer of Arcade titles, you should know what Crimson Alliance is, as it was the free reward. If you did not, then this is your introduction: Crimson Alliance is a hack-and-slash in the vein of Torchlight, Diablo, etc. (I BET I’M THE FIRST ONE TO MAKE THAT REFERENCE).
From the beginning, Crimson Alliance tries its best to immerse you in its story. The game’s cutscenes are handled using static vignettes with a painted/drawn style. Straight away you’re treated to a series of vignettes in a cutscene detailing the history and origin of the Soul Siren, antagonist of Crimson Alliance. I’m always one for a bit of exposition, so this was very appreciated.
The real strength of the cutscenes comes during character selection, though. Three characters are available, a rogue, a wizard, and a mercenary. When you cycle through each of these characters during the selection process, you have the option to see their backgrounds before choosing. Each character’s backstory leading up to their involvement with the other characters and to the starting point of the game is detailed in a character-specific cutscene of the same style vignettes as the opening scene. In these character-specific scenes, you get a bit of the history of the character, and more importantly, you get to understand the character’s motivations and personality type. You are playing a fantasy RPG, after all. You should know SOMETHING about your character.
Each of the three character types obviously has its own weaknesses, strengths, and abilities. The truly unique thing about Crimson Alliance is that not all three character types have to be made available. The game itself is absolutely free to download. The characters are where the purchases come in. You can buy a single character type for 800MSP, or you can buy all three character types for 1200MSP. If you choose to only buy one, but want to buy another one later, it will be an additional 800MSP, so if you feel like you’re going to want a bit of variety, you may as well pony up the 1200MSP up front and save the extra points.
While you CAN play this game alone, you really SHOULD play it with friends. To take that one step further: While you CAN play with random strangers on Xbox Live, you really SHOULD play with friends (locally or online). Playing with friends makes it easier to formulate strategies and, more importantly, figure out how loot items are shared. Similarly to Castle Crashers, your leveling and XP progress are saved to your character.
Visually, the game is not quite as pretty as something like Torchlight. It has a bit more of a Diablo-style feel to it, with higher detail and rougher edges. The gameplay is simple, with a few functional buttons and auto-targeted spells and ranged attacks. There are secret areas with phat lewt, but the pre-defined maps make it easy to know where to go to progress, and where to go for aforementioned phat lewt. Level scores are awarded based on combat, secret areas discovered, a time bonus, and a level multiplier, with leaderboards for each level.
If you like fantasy hack and slash games, Crimson Alliance is a great example of the genre. Assuming you like fantasy hack and slash games, and you have a fairly consistent history of playing a certain character type, 800 MSP is a great deal for a one-character copy of Crimson Alliance. If you like mixing it up, the extra 400MSP is definitely worthwhile for the full character roster. It’s not the most innovative in terms of gameplay, but it’s an enjoyable example of a fantasy hack and slash.
|Great attention to story detail|
|Pre-defined dungeon maps|
means no variety in replay value