Well, where is the red?
Crimson Alliance has been on my watch list for some time now, and with good reason. Every tiny video and press snippet has promised a fun and tactical action-RPG experience that relies on a mix of brains and brute force. Now Crimson Alliance is here with a fresh take on the hack-slash dungeon-bash genre and itís a good one.Story
As true to our word, we donít do spoilers. Suffice it to say youíre going to take on the role of one of 3 interesting characters, who for their own reasons are travelling together to make sense of whatís going on. Vague? Yes, go play the game for the story!Gameplay
Crimson Alliance takes the grind out of typical XP driven dungeon hack-slash games and replaces it with, fast, furious and fun mechanics that mean youíre not constantly trying to juggle your points into various D&D related stats. You have various attacks, slash, heavy, stun and thrown. These are split into powers across the 3 classes, mercenary (fighter), assassin and wizard. They are all modified in some way by the weapons/armour that you equip (through the inventory accessed by the back button).
So for example the sword in the assassinís left hand might improve her stun rating, but remove bonus health. But the dagger in her right hand gives you a whole lot of slash and a couple of bonus health, whilst the armour gives you some more attributes. Each time you hit a milestone with these attributes, you get a bonus attached to that. Many of the weapons are magic and have their own special powers too, such as fire or poison.
Each class feels unique and has a tactical value to the overall group; weíll talk about co-op later on down the line though.
The Mercenary gives you: Slash (a normal attack), a Heavy attack, a Shield bash/stun and he can dodge (like all the classes).
The Wizard can throw a ball of magic fire, cast a freeze spell, and do an area effect lightning storm that stuns his opponents Ė he also teleports as a dodge.
The Assassin is nimble; she can attack with dual slashes, stun her opponents with a quick-fire rapid move that hits more than one target at once and throw daggers, great range from higher ground. She also dodges quickly and effortlessly.
All classes can block with the right trigger, though the wizardís shield only lasts a short time compared to the other two martial classes. You can also use the left trigger to pick up various objects in the game world and throw them at enemies, using the face buttons to throw. Explosive barrels and other tricks can make short work of enemies that cluster in groups.
All characters can pick up and use deployable/consumable items, such as turrets, healing totems and throwing axes. There are hidden secret areas to find and a class specific door in many of the levels laden with gold and extra items. All of the levels are hand built as well, so donít go thinking that this is Torchlight with its random dungeons, this is all crafted by a group of level designers and each item is placed individually.
The levels are laden with gold and gold of course gets you more cool toys, toys that can be brought from the weapon smith (accessible between many of the levels). If you lack the funds, you can always pay 80msp to buy 40,000 gold. This can be repeated as many times as you desire for each character. Itís a sneaky micro-transaction style trick but if people want to pay for their in game gold, who are we to say otherwise?
Crimson Alliance takes the hardship out of the controls, out of the gameplay and out of the whole genre Ė for instance your inventory is accessed by the back button and is easy to navigate, swap weapons and equip armour. It is a really smartly designed game and the gameplay, solo or otherwise is rewarding and tight. It lets you concentrate on fighting the good fight and using tactics to take down the many enemies, as well as the boss fights, which arenít easy even on the easiest setting. Pump it up to Ridonkulus and youíll be in for the fight of your life!
There are leaderboards and medals to attain, getting a solid number of hits in battle increases your combat multiplier, and taking damage decreases it. If you can manage to get an 8x combo then youíll rack in the points and reach a coveted platinum medal.
There are checkpoint saves in place and the game saves between levels.Graphics
Thereís something delightfully retro yet modern about these graphics, the characters and level designs are excellently done and they bring a sense of atmosphere to the table. Developer: Certain Affinity has done a wonderful job on making the graphical side of this XBLA pop with a great palette and some really solid framerates even when the action gets insanely populated by spells and flying bodies.