The Cursed Crusade review

  • Format: 360 (version reviewed), PS3, PC
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: dtp entertainment AG
  • Developer: Kylotonn Games
  • Players: 1-2
  • Site: http://www.thecursedcrusade.com/

The Cursed Crusade has no doubt flown under the radar of most people, as it has been released by a reasonably small time French developer which has not got many games under its belt. It can perhaps be forgiven then for some budget related difficulties, but does a hack and slash game boasting “100% uncut” warrant your time?

For those interested in the times of Saladin, Richard the Lionheart, Templars and the Crusades (and let’s face it a few years worth of Assassin’s Creed games have helped with that) there might be an immediate draw there. You play as the strangely named Denz de Bayle, a Templar left behind by a father shipped out to fight in the third crusade who loses his estate after an uncle steals it from him. With his father being the only one who can claim the land back, Denz has no choice but to set out and find him somewhere in Jerusalem. Oh, and there’s a curse that makes everything turn a bit demony.

The curse is the bizarre twist in the game that is both baffling and to a certain extent unnecessary. Those who have committed sin or are a direct descendant of someone who has is cursed, but the only downside of this seems to be that those stricken are hunted by a robot-looking Death. The upside is increased physical power, perception and power over fire. So there is also an interwoven plot that Denz and his walking stereotype of a friend Esteban wish to cure the curse. Clichéd though it may be, the plot of a Templar trying to find his father to take back his lands would have worked fine in this setting.

The game never seems to properly decide how the curse works. It’s supposed to be bad, yet in a boss encounter you will be fighting them normally first and then fighting a stronger version of them that has activated the curse. You’re constantly encouraged to use it for increased damage or to break through walls and doors. It’s never clear how this looks to people not affected by it either. At one point you’re surrounded by normal soldiers and the only way through is to use the curse to break down a wall. Rather than be scared or shocked at a man breaking a wall with his hand, the soldiers around you mutter “It’s an act of god,” and carry on as normal.

Sometimes with a free camera and at other times with hard to navigate fixed cameras, the game plays in the third person and for the most part comes across as a very simple hack and slash game with fairly graphic finishing moves. There are a huge variety of weapons which you will be forced to switch between, thanks to them breaking as quickly as if they were made of ice. There’s also a basic upgrade system using points earned not through killing but completing objectives and obtaining collectables. These upgrades increase base attributes and also unlocks larger combos for each weapon or weapon combination (sword + axe or mace + shield as some examples).

There is a bit of depth added with guard breaks and counters; but if you master the latter, the entire game becomes a tedious cake walk of countering an enemy to stun them, hitting them a few times, countering again and repeating. The only challenge is when so many enemies surround you that you get stun-locked into having no hope of escape.

At first the combat was quite fun. Simple, but fun. Then it got boring and it got boring very fast. Each encounter felt the same and by the last quarter of the game we were just sick of room after room of enemies bulked up purely to try and milk a bit more total playtime.

The music is inconsequential and the voice acting below par. This makes a game laden with quite a few lengthy cutscenes breaking up sparse bits of gameplay at times all the worse. There are also quite a few self aware references that people will either love or despise. Things like mentioning achievements/trophies and then there is the worst one of all, which parodies the “This is madness!” scene from 300 in which Denz shouts “No. This. Is. The. Curse!” before kicking a man down a fiery hole that made us cringe for the next hour or so.

The game isn’t without its share of glitches or lack of polish either. There is noticeable input lag, numerous times models would disappear during cutscenes – or animations would play incorrectly – and we also found that whenever we loaded our save file that the sound, music and voice levels in the audio settings all randomly set to zero.

The one saving grace of the game is that you can play through the entire campaign co-operatively online or split-screen. However even this is not enough to save The Cursed Crusade from damnation. It’s just too basic, too boring, has very little that would appeal to anyone and there is nothing to encourage subsequent playthroughs beyond achievement hunting. This is best avoided by all but those wanting a short, simple, co-operative hack and slash experience that will ultimately be very forgettable.

 

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Written by Ian D

Misanthropic git. Dislikes: Most things. Likes: Obscure references.

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