The Cursed Crusade Review

Publisher: Atlus / Developer: Kylotonn Games / Price: $39.99 / Played on: Xbox / ESRB: Mature [Blood and Gore, Intense Violence]

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The most fun I had with this game was coming up with lame jokes I’d use to start this review. Not able to settle on one, here’s a partial list:

1) Cursed Crusade is an appropriate title for this game, considering all the cursing you’ll do while playing.

2) The Crusades were a long and horrible blight on history that left a lot of pain and sadness in their wake, and it seemed like they would never end. Just like this game.

3) Cursed Crusade? More like Worst Crusade.

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Enough. Here’s why the game sucks:

Gameplay

You control Denz de Bayle, a Frenchman joining the Fourth Crusade with his Spaniard companion Esteban Noviembre (controlled by the computer in single-player, or by a friend in split-screen or online co-op). Denz and Esteban share a demonic curse—which offers powerful attacks and flame powers, but will kill you if used too long. The pair hack and slash through medieval Europe. Combat earns points, which are spent on stat and combo upgrades for over a dozen weapon styles, including axes, swords, maces, lances, shields, and various combinations thereof.  When battles get tough, activate your curse powers for an edge on your foes.

And that’s it. You walk around and kill repetitive enemies with busted, unresponsive controls and powers that don’t work when you try to use them. One of the first powers you learn is “heal,” which you activate by hitting Y when near your partner. Despite these simple instructions, I managed to make it happen exactly twice out of countless attempts. I don’t know why it didn’t work. It just didn’t.

Furthermore, the difficulty is inconsistent. Encounters randomly swing from manageable to ridiculously overpowering. Either you win handily or enemy soldiers will swarm you to death. Success seems arbitrary.

A perfect example of how broken the game is occurred right at the beginning of my playthrough. I had to run toward the church’s consecrated grounds before Death could catch up and claim me. As I walked, quick-time button-pushing events popped on-screen, leading me to hit the corresponding buttons quickly, though it’s never clear what they’re supposed to do.

Confusingly, when I hit the right buttons, I actually stumbled backward, as though I’d done it wrong. Death caught and killed me at least ten times. Counter-intuitively, I started hitting the buttons later, and was “rewarded” by making it to the church and continuing the game. I should’ve taken the “Game Over” screen seriously and turned off the console then. But I forged ahead.

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As I played, I found the game riddled with bugs. During a castle siege in Constantinople, Denz and Esteban take cover behind a rolling shield so they can approach and set fire to wooden towers—the second such sequence in the level. My first attempt made the game lock up, forcing a restart. My second attempt locked up the game again. I got around it by skipping the shield stuff entirely—a portion the game actively encourages you to play—and by taking out the wooden towers from afar with a flaming crossbow. When games promote creative problem-solving, it’s usually a selling point. But I shouldn’t have to think creatively to get around confusing, game-killing glitches.

Level design is bland and the areas are difficult to navigate. You can pick up your fallen enemies’ weapons throughout the game, and you do this a lot, since weapons break after every other fight. This makes choosing the weapons you want to spend points on pretty meaningless, especially when you max out your sword abilities and fight hordes carrying only axes. When that happens, your investment seems wasted, and you will die. Weapon selection is mapped to the D-pad, but assaults from enemies keep you from drawing new weapons while you’re fighting them off with nothing but a sword-hilt. You can’t pause and select weapons, and your inventoried weapons don’t auto-equip after your current one breaks. You will die.

And don’t think that adding a second player will improve the experience at all. The split-screen mode is not worth your time. It’s the same awful game, only squeezed onto half of your TV. In fact, if your friend actually still talks to you after subjecting him to this thing, then yours is a friendship that can withstand any hardship.

Despite all my hate, even a broken clock is right twice a day, so here’s a high point: sometimes Denz and Esteban fight Death in levels set in demon-infested Hell-nightmares. While they’re just as repetitive to play as the regular levels, your curse powers are unlimited here, allowing for faster, more powerful combat that almost resembles fun. But these levels are even harder to navigate than the rest of the game, a result of confusing layout and paths obscured by poorly rendered textures (more on that later).

My other high point? You get to use a two-handed great-axe sometimes, which is my favorite D&D weapon.

That’s it.

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Story

The game takes place in the early 1200s during the Fourth Crusade to Jerusalem, following the heroes’ efforts to find Denz’s lost father and expunge their demonic curse. Taking a page from Assassin’s Creed, the game attempts to tie historical events and characters into the plot. But none of the real-life figures you encounter are memorable or well-known. The result is a bunch of bearded guys with swords and an impossible-to-follow story. If you’re hoping to learn more about the Crusades or medieval Europe, read a book.

The dialogue is terrible. Jokes fall flat—there are at least two inexplicable references to cow piss—and every character is unlikeable. Denz is a one-dimensional “hero,” who delivers self-righteous lines about justice and honor, while sticking knives into just about everything that moves. But as bad as Denz is, Esteban is worse. He acts as the “comic relief,” offering what are supposed to be witty commentaries on the events of the game, but he mostly comes out seeming like a poorly drawn caricature of any Hispanic character with “attitude.”  I hated everyone. I hated Denz, and I hated Esteban, and I hated all of the interchangeable villains you fight—and mostly I hated myself, because I was playing The Cursed Crusade.

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Control

The combat system, with its many weapon choices and combos, is ambitious… but broken. Activating finishing moves (including face-stabs, gut-shots, and decapitations) seems random. And triggering combos is likewise more a matter of luck than skill. The game responds poorly to commands, and pulling off a life-saving parry becomes impossibly difficult when you’re besieged by enemy swarms. Combat just doesn’t work like it should. It’s a shame, because if the combat worked properly, it could’ve saved this mess from total failure.

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Visuals

This game is butt-ugly. The graphics look like they belong to a previous console generation: lots of slowdown, fuzzy textures, and herky-jerky animation. Characters’ mouths don’t match with dialogue, and their motion-captured acting is made worse by a camera that swings every which way. Maybe they were going for a “realistic” style, aping handheld camera-work during cut scenes, but the result is sloppy.

Worse, the visuals frequently get in the way of gameplay. In addition to the aforementioned navigation problems due to blurry graphics, sometimes the camera simply swings wildly while you’re in combat. When you can’t see what you’re doing, you will die.

Other times, the camera’s lack of movement is what kills you. Sometimes the camera takes a static position as you progress, resulting in lots of obscured combat moments. When this happens, structures in the foreground like canopies or walls consume the entire screen. And since you can’t move the camera, you will die.

Characters also tend to disappear from the screen. Random enemies disappear when killed, making it kind of difficult to have a workable weapon since you have to pick them from their corpses. No corpse means no weapon, and you will die.

One cut scene features Denz becoming demonically angry at some soldier, ferociously terrifying the bad guy. At least, I think that’s what happened. I’m not sure, because Denz disappeared halfway through the scene. The soldier asked, scared, “How’d he do that?!” Maybe he wanted to know how Denz turned invisible.

Another time, while pursuing a villain through his palace, I got ridiculously stuck. I thought I’d encountered another game-killing bug. I’d cleared every room of enemies, and had retraced all my progress to see if I’d missed anything—a switch or a hidden door. Eventually I figured it out: I’d missed a staircase. Yes…an entire flight of stairs. Why? Because the camera was locked in a corner, and the staircase just looked like another blurry, unremarkable wall.

Oh, and there are also typos throughout, in written dialogue and upgrade-screens. Spelling, the absolute easiest thing to do right, still got royally screwed.

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Sound

A glitch ensures that every time you load a saved game, all sound will be turned off. You can turn it back on through the options menu once you start, but there’s no point. I’m pretty sure there is only one song looped throughout the game, and it sounds like a soundtrack from a SyFy original movie about dragons. But, honestly, the music’s relatively inoffensive, since you’ll be too distracted by the worst voice acting in the world. No one sells the dialogue at all (likely a consequence of the terrible writing).

The worst part, though, is Esteban, who doesn’t sound like the loveable rogue with an authentic Spanish accent that he was written to be. Rather, he sounds like someone performing an epically long impression of the Taco Bell dog—who happens to have been gargling razor blades and smoking lots of unfiltered cigarettes. Esteban’s accent and overall performance is offensive not only to Spain, but to Spanish-speakers the world over. And also to people with ears.

Oh, there are also lots of sound effects of people getting stabbed and gurgling on their own fluids. If you want to hear that sound, play this game. You’ll hear that sound—the same exact sound—at least 600 times before you’re done.

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Bottom Line

I almost feel bad writing this review, slamming the game so hard. On paper, the ideas that went into its creation must have come from a place of passion and excitement for a rich period in history. But then I remember that I actually played this unlikable, unfair, and unfinished game for many, many miserable hours, and the only person I feel bad for is me. Don’t go near this thing, or else you’ll be cursed with damnation, too.

1.5 / 10

 

  1. i think more games need scores like this.

  2. I’m cancelling my pre-order for MW3 and getting this. It sounds MUCH better.

  3. Agreed, meowingtons. A loooooot of games suck big schweddy balls like this one, but reviewers seem to puss out on giving then a one or a two; conversely, I feel that too many games get too high of reviews. Just my personal opinion.

    • I never got the point of number ratings anyway. Either a game is worth playing or it’s not, depending on how strongly you feel about the points a reviewer makes.

      That said, it IS lame how reviewers tend to give absolutely shitty games 4-5/10 anyway as if they’re trying to say, “Well, it takes a lot of time and effort to make a game, so it deserves something!”

  4. thx but to late

  5. This game actually looked interesting… I suppose it still does, but a shitty game is a shitty game, and it’s apparently not worth playing.

  6. I thought it was a fun co-op game that wasnt finished at all or pollished. Sure it sucks but its fun to play with your friend and make jokes about it and even some games could be fun so id give it a 4

  7. Haha, I thought this game looked interesting until I played the Demo for it and it was god awful, to say the least!

  8. BEST GAME EVER! :P just kidding

  9. i loved the demo personaly but i haven’t played the full game yet

  10. I played tis game and it was awsome. Experienced no bugs and none of this crap that you people are getting. It had flawless gameplay for me.

  11. I agree with Brian Rubin completely. I have played The Cursed Crusade enough to obtain its goddamn platinum trophy, which I am very proud of because it shows that I am a very patient person. I’ll be honest here: I’m the kind of gamer that enjoys terrible games. This game really takes the cake. In fact, it killed the competition so hard that it scarred me inside. My body was not ready for The Cursed Crusade. I might be into S&M and I’m not aware of it. The hellish world gives you immense strength but it also gives you immense headaches as the graphics are half-assed and low rez.

    The game’s so terrible that I went back to the game store and traded it in.
    It was the first time (and probably the last time) I ever traded in a game.

  12. This was the BEST Medieval RPG Action game i have EVER played so far, i mean sure it has a few glitches n stuff, but i’ve had TONS of funn playin it so far, i’ve beaten it on easy, normal, and hard, gonna beat it on nightmare now, but yeah i highly reccomend this game to medieval rpg co-op game lovers, this person who reviewed it must either been a non-RPG gamer or just a complete idiot cuz this game fkin rules! get this guys its 100% worth it! 9/10 i rate it

  13. This is the worst game I ever WATCHED.
    I’m serious, 90% of the game is poorly rendered cut scenes and terrible dialog about a plot that wanted to be something but fell far short.
    The combat while at first was quite fun, got repetitive fast. The “combo’s” were so similar in animation that even if you attempted to switch it up to do a cool move, you just ended up doing the same action TWICE…which lead to lots of button mashing because it really didn’t matter.

    One more note, from a 3d guys perspective: I feel like the lighting director needs to get eyes checked, the models have specular maps on their CLOTHES. Everything in this game is an over saturated lighting nightmare, there are reversed normals on almost every piece of equipment leading to shiny, blocky, fuzzy, blehh..just bad.

  14. Well having read through this entire page and i admit,agreeing on several points i do however wish to correct you on some things.if battle seemed ridiculusly hard at some points its because you smashed your face on the keyboard and forgot that this isnt your anime inspired moronic look i can swing a 12 kilo 2 handed axe like its made of olive garden bread kind of game it reqired counters breaks timing and nods to physics,swinging those massive weapons is slow,hard and yes a shield does block it(it may break your arm but block it it shall non the less).also if you kept dying like a mob at first its probably because you thought hey a button FKING MASH ITS BRAINS OUT oh fudge well guess i need to pay attention on the little circle closing in that means i have to time it so i will not stumble.oops.i agree textures,historic fidelity yadda yadda yes,you are right however do not confuse the game being shoddily made with your inability to play something harder than MW3 pew pew peew reloading grenaaaade boom i win.for some games you actually do have to try.for all the people hatin’ yes i totally agree the graphics needed work the lighting/rendering needed work the story and historical point of view was a big ole DA Fuq,the clipping and jerky movement was bad however in this game if you manage(and yes its actually hard) to die in combat and not do so while playing nightmare…you suck.plain old hands down go herp on MW phaseroll on halo just never,ever go near ninja gaiden,dark souls or tetris grandmaster/pacman for that matter.people will point and laugh.

  15. wow.that is all you had to say?just wow.i am surprised you did not comment on the fact my “isnt” does not have an apostrophe or my general lack of diacritic marks or some such grammar nazi nonsense.not 10 out of 10.if you indeed had read all i wrote you would have realised i recognise how flawed the game is.4.5/10 or 4/10 but dammit lol 1.5?rly?MW and shity ass repetitive games like that get 9/10 and you could not find the time or patience to find the good parts in the game?also their very armor clipped with itself and it’s texture and lighting made it look like you wore plated tinfoil.There,we get it the game was badly made however it was not THAT badly made.try reviewing “Amy” if you love bashing so much,that should give you a lot of laughs.deaths too.lots of those as well

  16. The game is not THAT bad… the character graphics are awesome. Armor and costumes have better textures than Skyrim and the fact that it shows ALL weapons on the character makes him look like a medieval beast!

    I agree that the game is VERY annoying at parts (especially the beginning of the game). It doesn’t explain very well what you are supposed to do to pass some parts.

    You can’t give this game maximum resentment as the idea and concept are great. It’s almost like they went overbudget and had to wrap it up quick.

    It seems incomplete in a ton of ways but ALL games do. This game is still fun to play and includes MANY different brutal finishing moves. The combat is based on combinations which also makes it more fun to play/watch (instead of doing the same 3 hit combo for hours on end).

    Again, it has it’s good points and it’s bad points. Top bad point is the lack of direction and difficult navigation. Top good point is the character detail and variations of combat.

    I give it a solid 6/10 as I think it’s still alot better than many games and they tried to switch it up and not make it the same as other games of it’s genre.

  17. You know this game isn’t that bad. I played through it and really enjoyed it. I’d say a solid 7/10.

    Some things I didn’t like was the fighting mechanics. The hugely complex list of moves no one is going to memorize. I just realized that I could hack away things with two one handers like we all want to hack and with a single sword the attack move is a series of left clicks (how hard is that to remember?) So I was able to get around the mass of moves by sticking to two one handers or a single 2h sword.

    The difficulty is also not linear. The most difficult level by far for me was the first siege of Constantinople when you land at the water walls (historically accurate I’ll give them that) If you get stuck on that I recommend using 2 1h weapons and just swing randomly and be good on your block button and crossbow. The easiest level was the last level too!

    And the worse thing about the game was the ending. I seriously wanted to punch a puppy. I won’t spoil it but they broke a big rule about trilogies. You make the first installment standalone! There’s a massive cliff hanger, like the largest cliff hanger in the entire story and they end it there! I doubt we’ll see The Cursed Crusade II so I’ll never know what happens to the characters (who I did like).

  18. Yeah. Literally just bought the game. And already cant stand it! The beginning is so annoying, it does not explain exactly when or how to press the right corresponding bottons so you can make it pass death to the church. Funny thing is, im use to playing crappy games, sad part is this game looked like it could have been awesome but, when i have a problem, is when i cant even play around with it to figure how to at least…begin the darn game( and i have a great amount of patience). You die, and you have to wait untill it takes five minutes to load, then you have to skip the constant cutscenes. Good thing i have that seven day deal with gamestop, and good thing it was only a $16 preowned game, because im turning this sucka in!!! I would just die right now if i payed the full price for this game! (Almost $40 bucks!!!) Bummer, looking forward to an awesome game…

  19. Crap I already got it :(

  20. Game was great. When I first got the game, I was very excited to play it oppnce I played the demo. Sure some parts of the game made me rage but I kept on playing and using every tactic I can defeat the enemies.
    I rate the game 20/10

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