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Crimson Alliance Review

Review; Oct. 9, 2011; Channels: Video Games; By Kyle James Hovanec
It's another hack-and-slash, but is that a bad thing?

Crimson Alliance

Whenever I tell myself that I have a controlled, strong-willed personality, all I have to do is play a hack-and-slash for a few minutes until I completely break down and forgo all basic needs just for a few more hours of game play.

“It's just one more dungeon. All I need is one more armor set, and then I'll go to bed.”

Hours later, night has become dawn, I have to be at work in two hours, and my rear has become a permanent part of the couch. It happened with Diablo II; it happened with Dungeon Siege; and it's happened again with Crimson Alliance.

Crimson Alliance is a top-down, third-person hack-and-slash dungeon crawler. Up to four players can play as either a speedy assassin, a burly warrior, or a spell-casting wizard. They then traverse dungeons, temples, and villages, slaying goblins, mages, and warriors for gold. Each character has his or her own strengths and weaknesses (assassin is fast but can't take a lot of damage; warrior is strong but slow; and the wizard has weak physical attacks).

Crimson Alliance Screenshots
Click the image to view game screenshots

Gold is the main source of currency and also a from of leveling up. How you obtain gold is slightly different from most hack-and-slashers. Enemies in the game actually drop very little gold. Instead, a majority of it comes from boss encounters or is hidden throughout the environment, usually not in plain sight. To get the most gold, you'll have to find the hidden rooms off the beaten path or have a partner help solve the environmental puzzles. In this way, the game encourages you to explore every nook and cranny. Weapons and armor are also hidden in each level, providing the strongest incentive to keep pressing forward. There is always more gold to find, more areas to discover, and more weapons to equip.

After finishing each level, you have the option to spend your hard-earned gold on more weapons, armor, or spell upgrades. As the game progresses, more powerful wares are made available. Naturally, the more powerful the weapon, the more expensive it is. This provides another incentive to keep playing -- not only will you discover hidden items and gold, but the results of your exploration are rewarded with even better equipment. Once again, the game gives you plenty of reason to keep pressing forward -- to keep playing.

Of course, if you're not the grinding type and want to unlock everything quickly, that option is available. Impatient players can purchase $40,000 of in-game currency by spending Microsoft points. The same goes for each character. Of the three available characters, each one can be purchased separately for a reduced price or all three for full price. Not sure if the game is for you? Want to play with your friends without paying full price? Both of those options exist and provide a flexible way to play the game your way. It's an odd pricing structure for a console-based game, more commonly seen in free-to-play MMOs, but it works perfectly in the end. It's something I wish more games experimented with.

In the end, Crimson Alliance is exactly like any other hack and slash you've played before. Besides the pricing structure, nothing about this game does anything new to push the genre forward or change the way its played. While this seems like a flaw, its actually far from it. The combat is repetitive but always rewards you and makes you want to keep playing. The characters and story generic, but enough to provide a backdrop for you and your friends to pillage some dungeons. It's everything that dungeon crawlers have ever been and everything they should be. Non fans of the genre most likely won't be swayed, but for those who enjoy some looting and grinding with friends, this is the game for you.


Review Score


Titles rated T (Teen) have content that may be suitable for ages 13 and older. Titles in this category may contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling, and/or infrequent use of strong language.

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