The Crusade isn’t the only thing that got cursed
The Cursed Crusade revolves around the idea that those who commit heinous crimes against their fellow men—whether in the name of God or not—see their bloodline marked for generations, and that their descent to hell is guaranteed. So when Templar Jean de Bayle fights in the Third Crusade, his bloodline’s tainted, and death stalks him for the rest of his days. Years later, his son, young Denz de Bayle, struggles with his family’s curse and learns that by possibly collecting artifacts of Christ like the Crown of Thorns or a piece of the Crucifix, he might be able to remove the taint from his family.
But in order to find an excuse to get to Jerusalem, he—like his father before him—decides to sign up for the Fourth Crusade. As young Denz, you befriend a Spanish mercenary also tainted by the curse, and the two of you begin your secret mission to save your souls while also uncovering the sinister plot of the men behind the Fourth Crusade—and learn that Jerusalem may be farther off than originally thought.
The best part about The Cursed Crusade is the same thing that makes the Assassin’s Creed series so riveting—it finds a way to bend true history to its own tale. The game’s primarily set against key moments in the Fourth Crusade, like the conquering of Zara in Croatia in 1202 as a favor to the Venetians to fund the Crusaders’ warships and the subsequent conquering of Constantinople later in 1204, permanently dividing the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches. All the while, de Bayle and his Spanish friend attempt to stave off hell’s attempts on their souls while looking for the artifacts that could save them from eternal damnation.
Unfortunately, once you look past the story, you see a very unpolished game. Whether it’s characters blinking in and out of existence during cutscenes or getting caught against invisible barriers in the middle of open roads, calling the game “unpolished” may actually be going easy on it. On top of this, the combat’s very hit or miss, as the enemy AI—even on the “Nightmare” difficulty—is simple enough that all you need to do is constantly parry their attacks with a click of the right trigger before going in for your button-mashing combo. The only difference on the harder difficulties is that the game tries to overwhelm your character with more and more enemies that can absorb more hits—but they don’t actually get any smarter. And, like in most hack-n-slashers, even though the game offers the chance to unlock various combos that mix the myriad shields and weapons you’ll collect on your journey, you can just mash light and heavy attack and get the desired results.
The overall aesthetics disappoint as well—the character design, death and blood animations, and scenery all have last-generation graphics written all over them. Couple this with OK music and horrible voice acting, and this game’s tough to listen to and even tougher to look at. Like my sister after Christmas dinner when she’s had a couple of glasses of wine. Ugh. Nasty. What a mess.
Sure, the game offers a little replay value with a bevy of collectibles in each level, but why would you want to replay something that you shouldn’t even want to play once? The Cursed Crusade lives up to its name, because this budget title is cursed to end up in its own personal hell: the bargain bin.
SUMMARY: An interesting twist on a historical setting—but far too many technical shortcomings to make it worth your time.
- THE GOOD: Story fits into its historical setting
- THE BAD: Glitch-riddled, repetitive action
- THE UGLY: The majority of the game’s animations
The Cursed Crusade is available on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC. Primary version reviewed was on the Xbox 360.