Atlus may have spent a lot of money on placing Catherine badge holders on every E3 badge this year but they had more to show off than Catherine at their meeting room this year. Namely they had a new hack and slash title called The Cursed Crusade available to play, and despite my excitement for Catherine I couldn’t turn down a chance to try it out.
The Cursed Crusade has players playing as Denz, a cursed templar who is seeking a way to break his curse. There is the chance for two player co-op in the game with Denz’s partner Esteban but unfortunately I only was playing the single player mode, though it let me determine how good or bad the AI is at the current time.
The game is a typical third person action adventure title and the level we played took place in the dark streets of a castle like town. The enemies we were facing were your standard looking medieval soldiers that came in a few different varieties depending on what weapons they were using. The first thing you will notice is that you can have complete freedom over whatever weapons you want to use.
You can pick up weapons dropped by enemies as well as dual wield weapons, including a sword and a mace, two swords, a great sword or your standard sword and shield. You will also notice that your weapon’s quality degrades over time and can break after enough uses. This means that you will often be switching your weapon with one off of the ground to avoid fighting with broken weaponry.
Most, if not all, of the kills that I performed ended with an execution of one way or another. Right now the game is very much still in development so graphically these kills were simply body parts comically flying off, but once they will be finished they will be truly gruesome as they usually resolve in a very brutal finish. My favorite involved the use of two swords which cut the leg off of an enemy and then finished him off by plunging the sword into his downed body.
After I killed enough opponents I was told that I could activate Denz’s curse mode which transformed everything in the game. Denz himself became a fiery demon and the ground looked like it was from hell itself with lava and fire everywhere. Even the enemies took on a zombie like appearance. Denz is much more powerful in this mode but also can use it to look for secret areas and weaknesses in walls, one of which we had to use to advance further in the game.
Our AI partner seemed to hold his own well enough and occasionally would grab an enemy and allow us to finish him off for us. There are a few times where I was required to work with my AI partner to push an object out of the way and he jumped to assist admirably. The game also contains a crossbow that can be used at any time to kill enemies at a distance. The environment is also very useful to your battles because most of them are interactive. For example if you fight an enemy near a lit brazier we could shove his face down into the fire, or we could kick an enemy into a well. You can kick an enemy into a well three times before being unable to do it anymore.
My hands on time with The Cursed Crusade ended by lowering a drawbridge to escape from the city. I found a hidden chest which I was told would unlock souls that could be used inbetween levels to upgrade my combat skills. These skills were maxed out for the demo so unfortunately I couldn’t have any access to the upgrade screen when the level ended. The Cursed Crusade played well, and I was assured that the graphics would take a large jump by the time the game is released later this year on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.