Crimson Alliance

Crimson Alliance Review for Xbox 360

On: Xbox 360

Crimson Alliance will mix fast-paced cooperative action combat with the rewarding element of RPG character development, in a battle against the sinister Cult of the Soul Siren.

Review Verdict Read Review
9Out of 10
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Crimson Alliance screenshot
Crimson Alliance screenshot

If you've been able to get through the last 15 years of dungeon crawlers without being reminded of Gauntlet or its half-cousin Diablo, then I owe you a fiver. Decades after the fact, developers are still sorting out how to pull the magic out of a formula that was forged in the '80s, which is why to the uninitiated Crimson Alliance is at risk of following the template a little too literally.

This is a dungeon crawler that doesn't even bother with adopting the complexities of RPGs in the way that Torchlight did two years ago. The world of Crimson Alliance has no character-specific stats. Don't go searching for skill trees either. Instead it has its own philosophy, which says something to the effect of "less fiddling, more hitting in the face." The game holds this kind of thinking to the most holy order, and Certain Affinity's unflinching belief in building this entirely with co-op and leaderboards in mind is – more than anything else - admirable.

The studio itself has a pedigree in multiplayer games to begin with. It was formed by ex-Bungie staff who went on to make the Tombstone and Desolation maps for Halo 2, and then collaborated with Treyarch on maps and game modes for Call of Duty: Black Ops. Crimson Alliance has more of a medieval fantasy flavour than what the studio is used to delivering, but it's designed specifically with multiplayer sensibilities in mind.

You have three (relatively) customisable characters to choose from – a Wizard, Assassin, and Mercenary – although the game allows for four-play co-op. In fact it likes the idea of co-op so much that it will suggest, using on-screen text, when you should start thinking about pulling someone on to your other controller.

Crimson Alliance screenshot

Puzzles will turn up at the centre of each level, for example, and most of them will leave you baffled without the helpful hand of a second player to stand on a pressure pad for you. It helps that combat simply looks better in co-op too.

Certain Affinity has a simple-does-it approach to hitting things. Each character is equipped with a basic and heavy attack, as well as the ability to stun, dash, and use a few consumable items as weapons. But if done right with another player, combat reveals a tactical edge. A double-team of Wizard and Merc can lay out a plan to have the former class freeze enemies, for instance, then leave the Mercenary to break those icy blocks into a hundred broken shards of crystalline death. The more variety that's given to these kills, the more points find their way to your final score.

It's important to point out that this isn't a particularly loot-driven dungeon crawler. At best you might find gold scattered around a few corpses by the end of a fight, largely because the game has more arcade-like ambitions in mind. Each level ends with an overall Bronze-to-Gold score based on points made up through combat, the time it took to clear the dungeon, and the number of secret areas you were able to find on your travels. Higher combat scores are easier to maintain the higher the difficulty you play at, but generally speaking you only need to think about combining attacks and avoiding hits to increase your multiplier.

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User Comments

Endless's Avatar


So I played the demo, and really enjoyed it. I have a few issues with it though:

1. It's impossible to complete everything without getting someone along for the ride. I'm all for promoting co-op but to flat out refuse to allow you to get 100% completion without a partner is unacceptable for me.

2. I would have liked to have seen more opportunities for bonus or skill scoring, given the extended premise of each level is to score as high as possible. There may well be more when you can combine multiple character's skills but then....see 1.

Having said that it has a very good feel, sort of Baldur's Gate Crossed with Diablo 2 kind vibe. If I had the money i'd buy it.

I also played Bloodrayne: Betrayal which has more than a passing resemblance to Castlevania, but with better combat. certainly some decent stuff out on XBLA, more enticing than most of the retail/full games for me.
Posted 23:04 on 11 September 2011
Endless's Avatar


Hold on...i'm confused.

There's no incentive to play for phat loot.

There's no massive hordes and endless waves of enemies.

There's hardly any character customisation

Hardly any character progression.

Combat is simlpistic.

There's an over-reliance on other human-controlled players.

And it's visually average.

So the entire premise of the 9/outstanding/must-have rating is that the AI is good, it has good puzzles/challenge-set-pieces and promotes co-op?

You're not really selling it for me Emily :)

What it says to me is "Hey remember Gauntlet? That was good 26 years ago, let's spruce it up, make it clever and re-release it with one less character class!"

The E3 demo trailer looks loads of fun though, clearly it's meant to be greater than the sum of it's parts. Show me the demo!!!
Posted 13:42 on 07 September 2011

Game Stats

Technical Specs
Crimson Alliance
Out of 10
Crimson Alliance
  • Variety of puzzles and challenges
  • Local and online 4-player co-op
  • High scores encourage continued play
  • Lack of complexity could discourage some
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Release Date: 07/09/2011
Platform: Xbox 360
Developer: Certain Affinity
Publisher: Microsoft
Genre: RPG
No. Players: 1-4
Rating: PEGI 16+
Site Rank: 338 65
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