Crimson Alliance or Why I Haven’t Slept
With all of the in depth, involved, complicated, expensive MMO RPG emotionally engaging story based shooters out there, sometimes you just need something simple to enjoy. The Mass Effects, Torchlights, SWOTORs and Warcrafts are all great and a lot of fun to play, but what happens when you’re just not in the mood for anything over complicated or involved? You turn to XBox Live and its vast assortment of games perfectly catered to this state of mind. Crimson Alliance is one of those games and it makes good on its promise.
When a friend told me Crimson Alliance was “free to play” I scoffed. Surely that wasn’t true. Well it is and it isn’t. The game is free to download and play but the player is of course severely limited in the number of things he or she can do. If you enjoy the game and want to continue playing you can purchase one of three characters, or two, or all three of them. There is a mercenary (warrior) class, an assassin (rogue) and of course a wizard (mage). Each comes to about $10 or however many Microsoft points that is (I can’t math).
To me this is a sign of a confident game developer. Certain Affinity must have simply thought that playing the free game would be enough to get people hooked on it. And they were certainly right in my case. After about ten minutes of playing as the assassin (of course) I was totally hooked and immediately adding more points to my Microsoft account. Then I also purchased the wizard so my husband could play too. You win, Certain Affinity! I just spent $20 on your arcade game without even giving it a second thought. It was absolutely worth it to me.
Throughout the game there are other downloadables you can purchase if you choose to, but I haven’t found I’ve really needed those. Would it be nice to have 40,000 gold pieces? Sure, but I’d rather earn it the hard and frustrating way by killing enemies and busting open crates.
The gameplay is perfectly suited to an arcade game. There is a simple melee attack, a ranged attack, a stun attack, a block maneuver and a special power. That’s it except for one other attack using items you can pick up in game. It is hack and slash at its finest. Getting into the fray and slicing up a monster is not only smooth and satisfying, but it looks pretty too.
I confess that I was totally taken with the entire look of the game. The way the playable characters move and attack, the environments, even the way the life giving little hearts float from a container and make a bee line to you is all carefully made to be one thing: Satisfying. That’s exactly how I describe this whole game.
Crimson Alliance is really nothing new when you get right down to it. It’s clearly an action RPG with all the trappings you would normally expect, but its stealthily impressive. Certain Affiinity wasn’t trying to break any new ground with this game. That much is clear. But they’ve definitely improved on what was already there.
The multiplayer cooperative play makes this game a classic dungeon crawler. There is a loose story told with the occasional series of still frames and average voice acting between certain levels. Checkpoints are often and they make a pretty sounds and colors when you walk through them. There are secret areas you can find that are often filled with gold and treasure chests, all immensely fun to collect. The enemies make fun noises when you kill them and flail around in a delightful manner. There are puzzles to solve, secret doorways to unlock and you can even customize the colors of the clothes your toon is wearing. It’s awesome.
I wish I could go into an in depth, complicated cerebral review about how this game is breaking the mold with its out of this world mechanics and what it means for games like it down the road, but I can’t. It’s just not that kind of game. It is what it is – simple, effective and damn addictive.
I think it’s safe to say that I highly recommend Crimson Alliance. And if you download and play it and want to crawl through some dungeons with a sassy little assassin, hit me up and we’ll get to it.