The Cursed Crusade

Atlus Embraces Action With The Cursed Crusade
by Phil Kollar on Jun 12, 2011 at 08:00 AM
Platform PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Publisher Atlus
Developer Kylotonn
Rating Mature

As a publisher in North America, Atlus releases all sorts of quirky titles across a wide range of genres, but they are best known for putting out hardcore Japanese RPGs. Not so with The Cursed Crusade, an upcoming action title developed by French studio Kylotonn Games. I got my first chance to try out the game at this year’s E3.

With its historical setting and focus on Templar, the announcement of Cursed Crusade drew a lot of comparisons to Assassin’s Creed. However, after trying it out, I’m actually more reminded of Demon’s Souls. From the faded, grimy color palette, to the over-the-top blood splatter, and especially in the slower-paced, heavy-feeling combat, this isn’t the average, hyper-active action game.

As in Demon’s Souls, blocking is very important both for avoiding damage and opening enemies up to counter-attacks. If you tap block at the perfect moment as an enemy is swinging his weapon at you, he’ll be thrown back and left open to attack. This is especially vital for heavily armored and shielded foes, as it can be the only way to open them up to taking damage.

One interesting aspect of Cursed Crusade is that players will be able to swap weapons quickly and constantly. Any sword, shield, mace, axe, or a variety of other weapons dropped by enemies can be picked up and wielded immediately. The weapon you currently have equipped will be dropped to the ground, allowing you to swap back and forth if you want. No matter which weapon you’re using, though, smart combat will require strategic blocking and parrying. If you rush in and swing like a madman (or like in most games), opponents will take advantage of your lack of finesse and cut you down.

Denz and Esteban, the main characters of Cursed Crusade, also have access to the titular curse mode. Activating it makes them significantly stronger in combat but also drains their health. Curse mode will need to be used sparingly. It can give you a major advantage against overwhelming opposition, but it can also kill you if activated for too long. The pair can also pull out crossbows, dropping the game into traditional third-person shooter aiming to help take out enemies who are at a distance.

Outside of combat, the star duo will need to solve simple puzzles and navigate environments with each other’s help. The game is strongly focused on co-op, although Atlus officials promise me that playing solo with a computer-controlled partner won’t be too painful.

Gamers who can’t wrap their heads around the deadlier style of combat in games like Demon’s Souls may struggle with The Cursed Crusade, but even in this brief demo, I was enjoying how much more thoughtfully I had to approach combat. One major question mark remains for me, though: the story. Cursed Crusade is supposed to deal with numerous real historical figures and a foolhardy attempt to invade Jerusalem. I’m hoping it’s handled as interestingly as it sounds. We’ll know more when Cursed Crusade is released later this year.

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The Cursed Crusadecover

The Cursed Crusade

PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
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