How long has it been since you’ve played a good multiplayer dungeon crawler? For me, I haven’t truly enjoyed a cooperative dungeon crawler since Gauntlet Dark Legacy. It’s not that the genre is completely dead; instead, the reality seems to be that game developers would rather make cooperative side-scrollers like Castle Crashers and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Lucky for me, a small group of former Bungie employees got together and created Crimson Alliance for fans of games like Gauntlet and the likes. While this is nowhere near as deep as Diablo III will probably be, it’s enough to keep you entertained and challenged while bashing buttons.
Fundamentally, Crimson Alliance places up to four players in a dungeon with a multitude of enemies, bosses, secret hordes, and cooperative puzzles. There are three classes available at the start: Mercenary, Assassin, and Wizard. All the classes have their strengths and weaknesses as you might expect. The ideal set up would include every class represented in your party. While the developers are pushing this as a co-op experience, Crimson Alliance is not a wash in single-player. Just be prepared to die more often than in co-op. Truth be told, the game can be played alone, but is far more fun as a group… with beers.
I enjoyed the look of the game even if it wasn’t at the height of HD design. Crimson Alliance played at a nice framerate and I didn’t notice any faults while playing it with others online. The maps are detailed, but not too distracting — the developers were looking to spend more resources on managing multiple enemies rather than rendering the hell out of some wooded dungeons. I never had a problem seeing when an archer was attacking me with arrows while being slammed by a swordsman in hand-to-hand combat. Sure, I did lose my character in big groups every once in a while; however, I’ll blame that on my warrior wearing all purple and not bright enough, contrasting colors.
There is a story in this game and it’s decent and better than most arcade titles, but it’s still a bit behind other RPGs that you may have played. I was a bit thrown off that the Wizard talks like Gandalf and the other two characters speak as if they are modern. This voice acting choice breaks some of the suspense and should have been thought through a bit more. Nevertheless, you should be enjoying this game more for the challenge and less for the story.
Finally, this game has a ton of potential when considering DLC and I hope the developer makes enough money to justify more content. New dungeons, characters, and weapons would make Crimson Alliance an even better game and could maintain a community well into the future. I had a great time with this game and I look forward to future chapters and other titles from the developer, Certain Affinity.
Full Disclosure: CraveOnline received 2 advanced copies of Crimson Alliance for the Xbox 360 from Edelman. We were held to the embargo date of Wednesday, September 7th. Before starting our review, we completed 80% of the game on Normal difficulty. We played both the single player game and co-operative multiplayer.