Thursday, September 8, 2011

Crimson Alliance Early Impressions

I've been able to play through a small chunk of Crimson Alliance, the hack and slash co-op oriented Xbox Live Arcade exclusive. We got to do an interview with the developers at Certain Affinity during E3, back in June, and we were impressed by the game then. Feel free to check out the article we did on Crimson Alliance back at E3, here. It ran well, seemed unique and had an attractive art style, most importantly though, gameplay was fun. The game is available right now on XBLA for 1200 Microsoft points, it came on September 7th and there is also a trail version available. The trail version let's you play all characters and a certain amount of the campaign, online and local co-op, but it won't let you progress your characters very far. Oddly enough, the game advertises itself as free, but it just merely means the trail version and if you wish to purchase the game you buy the "all classes pack" for 1200 Microsoft Points and if you only want a single class, of which there are three, you can buy it for 800 Microsoft Points.
The game is reminiscent of older hack and slash games, the ones that focused on secrets, unlockables, earning gear and simple mechanics. This is a game that is meant to played with others and it not so subtly hints that you should be playing co-op in every level, whether it's the puzzles that tell you need more than one person, or the secret walls that can only be opened by certain classes. You can play it single player, but it's much less fun as a single player game and more difficult. You can play co-op with up to four players at a time, despite that there is only three classes. The world has a bright colorful design, but it still does blood and gore as well. The world is full of monsters, traps and survivors, survivors who always die right when you get to them. Finding secrets is a big part of every level, always leading you to look in all direction. Secrets are sometimes obvious, but many of the times you must actually thoroughly explore and examine to find them. I immediately appreciate the extra work they put into all the secret areas and class specific locations, why? because they are designed well and often add to the experience, they aren't just holes in walls.

The World Map

Before I discuss gameplay, I must reveal the classes. The three classes are the wizard, the assassin and the mercenary. I really like that these three classes, in the story, are not typical at all. The wizard attempts to be wise, but seems fairly impulsive, the mercenary is all about money, but has some honor, and the assassin is nervous but intelligent. The mercenary is entirely melee and if he wants to do anything ranged he must rely on the other classes, or fiery throwing classes. The opposite of the mercenary, the wizard, has no melee and is all spells, while the assassin has a mix of both melee and ranged. Classes "level up" through armor and weapons, not experience. This an rpg, but it's not typical, you have to rely entirely upon weapons and armor to progress your stats.
Class Selection Screen

The gameplay for Crimson Alliance can be broken down into items, melee and ranged. There are four items you may pick up and they are : the fiery throwing axe (a strong throwing item that does a lot of damage and can hit multiple enemies), a healing totem (heals all players in a area, and revives downed allies, for a short period of time), monster bait (attracts all monster to it for a very short period of time) and a deployable turret (my favorite). Items are fairly simple, but they have to be collected and can be very useful. If you play the game on normal mode, or easy, then you don't have to worry about items too much, but on hard difficulty items become vital. Melee is fairly simple, the mercenary has heavy attacks, light attacks and a shield bash attack, while the assassin has similar attacks, except instead of a shield bash she has throwing daggers. Like I said before, the Wizard has all spells, but he is the only class I haven't tried so I cannot say for certain what his spells do, although he does have spells that are *heavy* and *light* just like the other two classes. Each class has a special power and it is something that you have to unlock through the campaign. I don't know the wizards special yet, but the warriors is a whirl of blades that defeats everything in your path and the assassin slows down time, but not for herself. Something else that I rather like is that fights are quick, even with larger enemies. Both you and your enemies can only take a few hits, meaning you have to use your surroundings, or abilities, intelligently. One thing that I haven't talked about is the use of the environment and let's just say there are objects around throughout the game, like explosive barrels, that any class can use to their advantage.
I could keep talking about this game for a while longer, but instead I'm going to go play it some more. So far, this is a great game for couch co-op, or online co-op, and as long as you have someone to play with then it's certainly worth your time to try it out. Just a reminder, it is only available on XBLA and it is free to an extent. Thank you for reading and if you have any questions leave me a comment and I will get back to you as quick as I can. If you want some more information check out the main website.
Main Website:

Crimson Alliance - PAX 11 Demo

-Written by Sean Cargle


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