Crimson Alliance tops off the Summer of Arcade in style, the price of admission ranging anywhere from $15 to totally free. With decent visuals and 4-player co-op, this Action/RPG is the latest in leisurely button-mashing fun along the lines of Castle Crashers.
A basic hack-and-slash at heart, the RPG aspect of this Action/RPG is relatively weak. It would be more appropriate to say this is dungeon crawler with light RPG elements. Yes, it has gear upgrades, but the characters don’t really level up or have diverse skill trees or embark on convoluted missions of self-discovery. You basically have the skills you start with mapped to the face buttons, the only improvements coming with upgraded gear and your personal experience with the game mechanics.
Some may view that as a bad thing, but others may view it as a nice simplification. I view it as a bit of both. Don’t get me wrong, I love to get a little nerdy in my RPGs by mapping out what skills I want to take and which talents work well with other ones, but I never get to the point of using calculus or spreadsheets to maximize every single point. That’s just too much nerd for me. To be honest, though, Crimson Alliance’s lack of these options is a bit of a letdown. The simple solution here is to just stop calling Crimson Alliance an Action/RPG. I hereby dub Crimson Alliance to be an Action/Renaissance Faire simulator.
Characters are the standard Mage, Warrior, and Rogue, though in this game they are called the Wizard, Mercenary, and Assassin. They have three abilities, each with a tactical use other than simply doing damage. That bad guy have a shield that blocks one of your attacks? Hey, try a different skill and perhaps you’ll blow right past that shield. It’s this kind of understanding that you’ll gain as you play through the game that will allow you to adapt and destroy your enemies all that much faster.
And deftly dispatching enemies is of the utmost importance if you want to post high scores on the leaderboards. You’ll rack up a multiplier by avoiding damage and smackin’ bitches up with the quickness. This, along with the 4-player co-op, is a key aspect to make you want to play the game over and over, well after you’ve actually beaten what little there is of a campaign. Playing with a buddy will also help you get through some puzzle areas that you simply can’t do by yourself.
If you plan on running through the game all by your friendless, lonesome self, you can save a bit and pick a single character to download for 800 spacebucks. Otherwise, you can get all three character options for 1200 points or simply buy all of the Summer of Arcade titles and get a code for a free copy of Crimson Alliance. Unless you’re just one of those anti-social glory hounds that wants to do everything for him- or herself, the experience is significantly better with friends. Just like sex.
+ 4-player co-op, on or offline
+ Combat is simple and fun
+ Better than Thor
– Not really an RPG, like, at all
– Voice acting is kinda terrible
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