I gave up trying to beat Barrett in Deus Ex: Human Revolution last night well after my twenty-fifth save reload and decided to scour the Xbox Live games marketplace for anything else, to see what was new, to find an easier experience that would get me muttering or wringing controllers’ necks. And I found it relatively quickly with Crimson Alliance, a new downloadable game that gives off a Diablo/Torchlight vibe, but with a co-op slant.
And it is that. It’s totally a Diablo/Torchlight clone. Minus the great loot. There’s little loot to speak of. More on that in a moment.
Actually, the main reason I downloaded Crimson Alliance was not because it looked like a simple, mindless hack n’ slasher–one that would not get me even more worked up inside–but because it was FREE. That’s right. It’s a free game. Says so on the tin. Well, maybe. The lines between free game, trial, and demo are significantly blurred here, and I’m sure this is all just a big trick being played on consumers by Microsoft Studios and Certain Affinity to get folks in for an appetizer and then staying for dinner. To add even more words to the mix, if one purchased all Summer of Arcade games this year–Bastion, From Dust, Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet, Fruit Ninja Kinect, and Toy Soldiers: Cold War–then one definitely got a free–and full–version of Crimson Alliance.
So, I downloaded this free game as a storm began brewing outside. Rain and lightning and rumbling thunder. Wonderfully atmospheric gaming sounds, so long as the power doesn’t cut out. Upon starting up, I was given the choice of one of three characters: the mercenary Gnox, the wizard Direwolf, and the assassin Moonshade. I went with her, and the game informed me that if I wanted access to all things Moonshade, I’d have to buy her. See, you can either buy the game completely, purchase classes individually, or, uh, play the free version with little to no fanfare to speak of. And it seems like you can play about the entire first level, a little bit of a shop, and a smidgen into the second level before being booted back to the main menu. The game constantly reminds you that, hey, you can unlock the full game if you want, just press here to do so. You want Achievements or better equipment or the nudity code? Unlock full version here.
Speaking of Achievements, for some reason, I now have Crimson Alliance added to my list of owned games. This means I can look at the list of 12 Achievements, something you don’t get to do with game demos, and see what there is to unlock. However, can’t unlock anything. Gotta upgrade for that sweetness. Which leaves me no choice but to delete the game from my hard-drive and hopefully permanently remove it from my owned games list. Cause I’m not interested in owning it, and that’s mainly because it’s more Gauntlet than Torchlight, and I’m all about the loot over social beatdowns. There’s less focus on loot and RPG elements here and more on slashing at waves of enemies and solving room puzzles with a partner.
That said, the game has some striking still art, strong narration, and an easy-to-get-into feel. Just a lack of crazy cool gear. Not for me, but your mileage may vary.