Preview: The Cursed Crusade

With the holiday gaming blitz upon us it’s easy to overlook a game like The Cursed Crusade. Developed by Kylotnn Games and published by Atlus, it’s an action-adventure game taking place during one of the many crusades of medieval Europe. A nice premise, but does it offer enough glam to compete with all the main-eventers of the season?

The Cursed Crusade begins during an assault on an enemy castle. After watching a painfully dull cutscene, you’re tasked with VERY SLOWLY pushing a rolling barrier towards the castle, protecting from the hail of arrows above. It’s one of the most boring introductions ever; it’s like starting a Metal Gear Solid 3 demo with Big Boss climbing that absurdly tall ladder. To make things worse, you have to endure the annoying and uninteresting banter between the two main characters (you, a crusader and his new Spaniard buddy) the whole time. This whole sequence would’ve been more tolerable if it had come after a battle sequence as it’s just a tedious and lackluster way to introduce us to the game.

When you finally reach the castle gate you must then take out the archers with your crossbow, showing off the game’s cover mechanic. It works well enough, but the crossbow fire feels so weak that it comes off at unsatisfying.

Once you’re inside, you get to what the demo should have started with: combat. The amount of action on screen is relatively impressive, as there are enemies and allies fighting each other everywhere with some solid detail in the environments. I just wish it were easier to differentiate allies and enemies. The combat is surprisingly deep with two striking buttons, a block/parry, and some sort of non-lethal push button. While you start with a basic sword, you can pick up anything on the ground which included a variety of swords and maces as well as shields. You can hold up to four different weapons choices at a time and can be toggled on the fly using the d-pad.

You can also combine options, such as having a sword/shield combo, two swords, or a sword/mace for example. However, there are no stats for any of the weapons that I could find, so there was no way of knowing which was better than the other, if there even is a difference. The demo didn’t seem to have any sort of inventory menu either.

Each combination has its own set of combos with a branching map will likely grow as weapons are upgraded. I also noticed that you’ll have access to some magic, though it was not available in the demo. Combat itself feels a little sluggish, but works admirably. Deflecting an opponent’s attacks opens up a small and frantic mini-game requiring the right button inputs to repel and then counter your opponents, adding some nice tension to combat. What’s sorely needed is a roll or any sort of dodging button which for the life of me can’t understand why it wouldn’t be included. These types of games are made fo rolling so unless you unlock one, you can only block attacks or run out of the way.

After running through the castle and killing everyone along the way you eventually make it to the boss, who is some sort of evil knight dude. The fight is nothing special; just battle him along with some minions that try to get in your way. However, after defeating him decides to put the curse in Cursed Crusade as he envelops in the world in fire, transforming everything into a hellish nightmare and the characters into something that resembles the daedric warriors in Oblivion. Though the as the fight is about to resume, the demo ends.

The game also has splitscreen co-op, but didn’t seem to offer anything unique other than requiring and extra hand with pushing that stupid barricade. At least your chats with your friend will drown out the inane conversations between your digital BFFS.

All in all, the Cursed Crusade looks to be shaping up into a decent hack n’ slash adventure. The dialogue will make you want to bang your head, but the story seems interesting enough. The deep combat system is by far the star of this game and hopefully will include a variety of intelligent and interesting enemy types to really show it off. You’ll only encounter basic grunts and archers in the demo). I can’t stress enough how much this game needs a roll/dodge button though. While it doesn’t look like something I’d drop sixty bucks on buy day one, it could be a fun weekend rent or something to hold you and a friend over during the less hectic spring next year.

Overall Interest: Moderate

The Cursed Crusade releases October 25 for Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and PC.



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