In contrast to the variety of weapons (such as it is), the environments themselves are incredibly bland and uninteresting. The three main choices are "castle in the day", "castle at night", and "Hell". You could play the levels themselves in any random order, and probably not even notice the difference. Objects in the environment are repeated ad nauseum; you see the same wagons, scaffolds, wells, boxes, and lamps in every single level of The Cursed Crusade. Compunding these problems is the fact that the burning textures and smoke and heat effects in the cursed realm obscure the action on the screen to its detriment. These levels are among the plainest and most repetitive of any game I've ever played.
As Denz and Esteban progress through the game, they earn victory points. Clearing a level gives a modest base amount, but more are awarded for finding secret areas or opening all the coffers scattered throughout the environments. Victory points can be spent to customize the heroes in two areas: mastery of the various weapon combinations, and attributes like Strength or Constitution. In theory, weapon mastery should give you an edge when using your buffed-up weapon stances. In practice, however, I was unable to discern any real benefit to using my mastered weapons, other than the requisite achievement. Similarly, attributes seem to have little effect. There may indeed be some behind the scenes benefit. Even so, the buffs are hardly noticable in gameplay, which adds a level of apathy to the already bland experience: why bother?
If there is something that The Cursed Crusade does mostly right, it would have to be the co-op. Two player co-op is supported throughout the entire campaign. There is no drop in/drop out, but you can load any chapter for a second player to join in either local or online play. Both players recieve achievements, which is always nice. One particularly cool feature of the local co-op is the choice between horizontal and vertical split screen. That's something you don't see very often, and is certainly worthy of praise. There are some "push the button together" sections here and there, and there is a revival mechanic, but that's pretty much the extent of the cooperative elements, apart from some boss fights where one player keeps the big baddie occupied and the other clears out the minions.
I really wanted to like The Cursed Crusade. It certainly showed promise ahead of its release, but there are many little problems here and there that detract from the experience. The game is clunky, messy, and doesn't fit together very well at all. I don't exactly hate it, nor do I particularly enjoy it. In fact, I don't have strong feelings about it one way or the other. It's a budget title, and it shows. The Cursed Crusade's co-op is the single bright point, but even that is merely average. That, in sum, is the issue: the game is extraordinarily ordinary.
The Co-Op Experience: A Middle Age bromance with two demon-cursed heroes, this Crusade really is Cursed.
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.