Good & Bad
- Interesting story
- Fun but sluggish combat
- Visuals for the most part are nice to look at
- Very easy
- Some visual elements like facial animation are really bad
I was a little hesitant when first playing The Cursed Crusade because I’d had a quick scan of the internet to see how it’d done across various review sites and I quickly found out it was doing rather badly. Now as a reviewer myself, I need to stay impartial and be honest about a game. But I’m actually surprised at the poor scores The Cursed Crusade has been getting. Okay, it’s not the greatest game ever and it is very easy, but at the same time, I found myself enjoying it even if the combat was simple and the story basic. It certainly won’t win any awards but it’s fun whilst it lasts.
You play as Denz de Bayle, a templar who sets out to find his father who went missing many years ago and was presumed dead. After attacking a castle and hearing that his father may still be alive, he sets out to join the Crusade as a means to gather more information on his father’s whereabouts. Along the way he is joined by Esteban Noviembre, a Spaniard who serves as a second playable character when playing in co-op; who is also the lighter, more humourous character of the pairing. To make matters trickier for the pair, they’re both inflicted with The Templar’s Curse which, when active, shows the world in a fiery blaze and puts the pair in risk of being taken by Death.
The game tends to alternate between cutscene and combat, with cutscenes actually taking presidence over the action far too often. Whilst they are enjoyable enough and well presented, aside from a healthy dose of Deus Ex Human Revolution facial animation (that is to say it’s rubbish), you often question why the happenings being presented to you aren’t playable. Take a scene relatively early in the game where Denz and Esteban ride on horseback towards an encampment. During the scene you see them fending off enemies trying to halt their progress and if you’re like me, you prepare yourself for some sort of horseback section. However, it never comes and you arrive at the destination, watch another cutscene and are thrust back into the standard combat of the game.
Combat is basic in the sense that all you do is press buttons until the enemy is defeated, but can vary a great deal depending on how you play. Combat consists of horizontal attacks (X button), vertical attacks (Y button) and other moves triggered with the B button. You’ll chain together attacks to defeat enemies, occasionally breaking their defense with a swift kick or reversing their attacks by tapping the right trigger. Combos you can use depend on the weapon combination you use and the skills you’ve unlocked so far. Whilst you begin with just a sword, you can find various other medievil weapons on the battlefield either by defeating enemies or finding them pre-placed. Each weapon has its own moveset and you can dual wield a mixture of weapons. Whilst interesting on paper, the way the game lets you upgrade your character really sets you down one preferred path. For a large portion of the game you spend the Victory Points you gain for completing objectives upgrading a specific fighting style and not much else. Considering weapons like the axe or the spear aren’t that common, it makes much more sense to spend your VP on sword attacks since they are more prevalent.
Once you’ve got through the first few sections of the game, you’ll find that each level has additional targets you can complete for bonus VP. These range from finding and opening hidden coffers to flicking on your Curse via the LB button and “purifying” hidden demonic skeletons. Whilst extra content is fine, you’ll often find yourself missing just one and losing out on your bonus. Considering some areas are sizeable and difficult to familiarise yourself with, you can’t help but miss a few extras which gets very frustrating.
Visually, The Cursed Crusade holds up well enough but is let down by dodgy facial animations, screen tearing and even envrionmental objects that occasionally overreact to the slightest touch. Not a game breaker, but way too noticeable. The audio is similar in that it holds up well enough with a good score and solid enough sound effects but the writing is at times laughable and you’ll tire of hearing the same dialogue over and over. You can’t help but laugh for all the wrong reasons when Esteban comes out with “They rain arrows on us like a pissing cow!”
Despite my early hesitation, I enjoyed The Cursed Crusade. It’s not great, it has its problems but the story is interesting and the combat varied enough to keep things going. It won’t win awards and some people will be instantly turned off but it’s worth a look.
The Cursed Crusade is out now for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Windows PC. For the purposes of the review, we used an Xbox 360 copy of the game.