Average User Score: 7.8Jan 10, 2013Crimson Shroud harks back to the days where video games were operated with quarters and playing an RPG required you to gather 2 or 3 of your buddies for a night of dice-rolling and imagination. For those of us who can remember those days, this game is a wonderful pseudo-trip down memory lane. For those of you who are too young to have enjoyed that era, Crimson Shroud is probably more of a miss than a hit. CS uses several novel aspects of game play and presentation to accomplish its table-top RPG feeling. In terms of its appearance, you are presented with a map on the bottom screen and a still scene on the top screen of the 3DS (with party members having a base at their feet as if they were figurines on top of a paper map). You can move your party using the d-pad or by tapping on a room on the bottom-screen map. Little footsteps represent your movement to the new room while the top screen loads a new scene as well as a set of text that tells the next snippet of story. All-told it's an interesting and novel approach to bringing the table-top feel to a hand-held gaming device. It is worth noting that nearly all of the story is delivered via text that is displayed upon entry to a new room and after an event has occurred (be it combat, or finding treasure, or the occasional flashback). If you aren't into reading, you'll have a hard time getting the full enjoyment out of this story.
Combat is interesting enough to keep the player engaged, but really smacks of a traditional turn-based JRPG. You have initiative (determined in part by the weight of the equipment you wear, but entirely behind the scenes) and you take turns selecting actions from context-sensitive menus much like nearly every JRPG combat system for the last 20 years. It does deviate from the norm in several interesting ways though, the most obvious of which are the dice rolls. Certain actions require the player to roll the dice during combat. This is accomplished by picking them up (touching the lower screen), swirling your finger around to shake them, them letting them go by lifting your finger. It's a nice, visceral feeling. I think Level 5 did a good job of balancing the number of times you roll dice. Too few opportunities to do so and you would wonder why that mechanic exists at all. Too many rolls would make combat tedious. The developers did a very nice job of finding the sweet spot. You will find yourself looking forward to your rolling opportunities, not bogged down by them.
Combat keeps the player engaged by granting each character the ability to perform two actions in a given round of (one attack, and one of magic casting, combat skills, or item use). This extra action is tempered by a combo system that lets you earn extra dice that you can add to any given roll to enhance its chance at success or overall effect. Performing an action out of sequence is sometimes necessary to ensure the survival of your party, but at the cost of losing your combo.
There are several other minor novelties that I'll leave for you to discover, but I have one last neat little addition I'd like to talk about. After you have completed combat, you are awarded a certain number of treasure points based upon how well you fought. You are also presented with a rather lengthy treasure list. Each item of treasure is assigned a value and you have to spend that many of your treasure points to acquire it. It often forces the player to make a (sometimes fairly difficult) choice after combat about what to take and what not to take. I should mention that you can spend your bonus dice (earned through combat combos) to bolster the number of treasure points after combat as well. This might allow you the edge you need to get an extra piece of powerful equipment for your party!
All told, I found Crimson Shroud to be a wonderful trip back to days of pen & paper RPGs. The story is engaging (provided you read it all), the combat is varied and fun (especially the dice rolls), and the item system kept me hunting for that next battle! This game is a solid A for old timers like me, but it's certainly not for everyone. Due to that, I can't quite justify giving it a 9/10, but 8/10 doesn't seem like enough. If you're a fan of the old school role playing experience, then this game is a must-play! And even if you're not sure whether this game is for you or not, the $8 price tag makes it a low-risk purchase. I heartily recommend Crimson Shroud to any fan of RPGs!… Expand