In addition to the four standard skills each character starts with, players can also unlock their ultimate abilities (and further boosts to these ultimates). These are super abilities that are slowly charged up by killing enemies. The way these are unlocked is via hidden collectibles throughout the levels. Simply unlocking them is pretty easy (something like four of the collectibles unlocks it). Ranking them up (which makes the ultimate last longer) require more and more collectibles per rank. They’re certainly useful in overwhelming situations (e.g. the rogue’s ultimate is a bullet time mode and the warrior’s is a huge whirlwind of doom). Finally, rounding out the character stuff, there are also consumables that often come in handy. These include monster bait, healing totems, short-term deployable turrets, and throwing axes. The healing totems in particular can save lives.
As far as co-op is concerned, there are certainly some nice touches added in. The levels are score based, but the score is shared between players, and you get to see if you got bronze, silver, or gold at the end of the level. If you really want to see how individuals did specifically, there are small boxes under each character that show kill count and longest killing spree, but they’re definitely downplayed. Gold is also automatically split between players upon pick-up. It’s little touches like these that are heartening to see - that truly encourage working together as opposed to competition beneath the surface. You’re much more likely to get a higher score if you work together as opposed to trying to get the highest kill count on your own. Also, no matter which character is hosting the game, the other players aren’t stuck feeling like they’re a sidekick in someone else’s story. A small thing, but certainly appreciated.
So what are the drawbacks to the game? Honestly, I find them to be few and relatively minor. I played through the game with a couch co-op buddy in probably 6-8 hours (the first half on normal difficulty, the second half on hard difficulty), which some may find short, but that’s usually what I expect from an arcade game. Since the replayability is fairly high (going back and getting higher scores, more gold for items, or trying out a different character), I don’t find any fault with the game length. The story is certainly nothing to write home about (and quite sparse with not so great voice acting), but I’m not the sort that looks for story in these types of games. The game may come across as very easy for veteran gamers at first, but turning up the difficulty (the game has 5 levels of difficulty, starting at “easy” and ending at “ridonkulous” - yes, really, “ridonkulous!”) can certainly remedy this. I ran into some graphic stutter a couple times, but nothing too major.
Does Crimson Alliance redefine the genre or do anything ground-breaking? No. Is it a streamlined, slick-looking, accessible dungeon crawler experience? Yes. Crimson Alliance may not entirely satisfy the genre fans that really want the endless farming runs for loot, better loot, and epic loot, but it’s a great game to sit down and play casually, or to convince a friend or significant other who may not play games very much to hop into for a quick 20 minutes.
The Co-Op Experience: An action RPG that features 4 player co-op, both locally and/or online.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.