Fantasy-themed action/RPGs trace a pretty standard formula. It involves monsters, loot, twisty corridors, and character upgrades. Even so, there’s a big difference between a great dungeon crawler and a mediocre one. Small features like ease of interface, distinct character classes, and smart level design can make all the difference. Crimson Alliance is one of those rare games that gets it right. The result is a surefire formula for a fun weekend with a couple of friends.
Certain Affinity’s new game can be played with any combination of one to four players, but I personally like it best with three. That’s because the developers have crafted three well-balanced but distinct character classes in their mercenary, assassin, and wizard. As you play, you’ll notice the familiar concept of character leveling has been abandoned in order to put a tighter focus on equipment upgrades, the primary way to improve over time. Cosmetic changes to armor and weapons turn your drab adventurer into a god-like killing machine, and you’ll eagerly await each new opportunity to spend your hard-earned gold. A simple-to-use pop-up inventory system keeps the action going for other players as you equip new gear.
Crimson Alliance unfolds as you explore a mysterious ruined city and its monster-infested environs. A sparse but well-written story keeps things moving with occasional voiced story sequences. Most of your time is spent in the cleverly wrought ruined fortresses, grounded shipping ports, and necromantic castles that make up the game’s diverse dungeons. Each level is filled with secret passages and hidden niches, and you’ll get increased rewards for strong combat performance and speedy runs through each stage.
There’s little choice in how you improve your character’s powers, but your limited selection of attacks are all fun to utilize; they only get more exciting as they grow in strength. Battles grow extremely intense on the later levels, especially on the higher difficulties. If you’ve got buddies along for the ride, you should definitely try to tackle the more challenging settings and get the appropriately higher rewards that come along with them.
Every aspect of Crimson Alliance works together to engineer a fun cooperative hack n’ slash. From the quick and easy inventory to the excellently designed levels and rewarding combat, this is the downloadable game to play with friends this season.