Crimson Alliance is the latest game to hit Xbox Live Arcade and it is a welcome addition. Certain Affinity has done a fantastic job designing this title with some smartly developed co op mechanics and walking that fine line of encouraging you to explore the environment but not so much that you might get overwhelmed. There are three different character classes for you to choose from with the Assassin, Wizard and Mercenary roles available to you. Obviously each class will have its advantages and you will have to pick the one that best suits your play style. As you progress through the story you will also find hidden rooms with treasure chests that only certain classes will have access to. There were many times where I would run by a room meant for a Wizard and I couldn’t do anything with it because I was an Assassin. As you go through the story you will earn money that you can use to upgrade your items. Crimson Alliance is an dungeon crawling action rpg and you will have to decide what you want to do with your character when you are leveling up to maximize your potential. There were plenty of times where I wouldn’t use a weapon that I found because while it raised my strength stats, it took away far too much from my health column. The developers really make you think here about how you want to approach the game and you have to decide what you are willing to sacrifice and what you can’t live without. If you upgrade blindly without paying attention to the pros and cons of each weapon you might get a surprise during combat and it most likely won’t be pleasant.
Crimson Alliance allows you to go through the game on your own, however, it really shines in co op. Co op is offered both locally and over Xbox Live and you can play with three of your friends. The way that the development team implemented co op into this title was brilliant. In some other titles in this genre if you are playing co op with your friends you are usually battling it out with them to see who is going to pick up the next health item, who is going to get the money and things of that nature. In Crimson Alliance that is all taken care of as everything is distributed equally. If there is a big pile of money in the corner and my co op partner runs over to get it we both get an equal share. If there is a heart container nearby and I go over to get it, it will heal us both. If I only need two hearts but my partner needs five then it will ration everything out accordingly. Essentially it tends to go to the person who needs it the most which helps keep everything balanced. As I briefly alluded to above, you are going to want to explore the environment as you are going through the levels. In doing so you will find secret rooms, puzzles that need solving and various items of that nature. You will be rewarded for your efforts in the form of new items or money so that you can buy new items when you go to a shop. If you happen to miss an item, such as a heart piece, then you don’t need to worry because the stats on the world map will tell you where you didn’t get everything. I really appreciate games that do that as I did happen to miss one heart piece during my adventure and now I know which level to go in to try and find it. It is little details like that make a game more enjoyable, especially if you are someone that wants to do everything to unlock all of the achievements.
Throughout your adventure you will also notice that the enemy A.I. becomes smarter. Towards the beginning of the game the enemies aren’t that bright, however, by the time you reach the end you are having to rely on different strategies depending on the type of enemy that is coming your way. There are enemies that will immediately fire on your position without a second thought and won’t just stand there waiting for you to run up and kill them. Other enemies will climb up walls and over railings to try and get you. You will come across enemies that fire arrows and bombs as well as electricity and some of them will even have shields that you will need to break down before you can do any damage. You will have an easier time if you are playing co op with friends and you can plan strategies that will utilize the strengths of your respective classes. You will have environmental hazards to contend with as well as you have to dodge spinning blades, spikes shooting up from the floor, flames and more. If you are smart you can use these to your advantage and lure the enemies over to get impaled or fried to a crisp.
The story for Crimson Alliance is told pretty well and they do a good job of leading you along. The ending to the story isn’t completely closed off which makes me wonder if we will see a sequel at some point. I had a lot of fun going through this title and definitely wouldn’t mind revisiting this universe in the future. While not an official “Summer of Arcade” title, Crimson Alliance is the free game you get if you happened to buy all of the titles during Microsoft’s annual promotion. With that being the case the “Summer of Arcade” this year was filled with some amazing games and I liked each one for different reasons. Crimson Alliance is a fantastic finale to the 2011 edition of “Summer of Arcade” and one that I will continue to play.
If you are looking for a light hearted dungeon crawler with light rpg elements then you really must try Crimson Alliance. The replayability the title has will depend on the person playing but I can see myself going through it multiple times with different friends. Going through it on co op it took me a little over five hours to go through and if you choose to go through it by yourself it should take a bit longer. If you have always wanted to try other titles in the genre, such as Torchlight, but were intimidated by how much there was to do or how much time you would have to put in then be sure to check out Crimson Alliance. It will give you a taste of what those games are like and you’ll probably find yourself having a lot of fun.
Originally posted on Totally Gaming Network