As you constantly play catchup between your own input and the game's response, the natural position to assume is to simply mash the buttons and hope you at least pull off a violent finisher.
The thing is, though, the finishers are never all that violent. It's understandable that the developer wants to direct the title towards as wide an audience as possible. But to quote the late great Peter Cook – "If you're strangling somebody, there's no point pretending you're giving them a shave."
A game doesn't need to become an abattoir in order to satisfy the primal cravings of the hack-and-slash player. All the same, the Cursed Crusade team might want to look at the way blades currently seem to slip through textures without thrust or force. There's work to be done when it comes to the tangible feedback that connects a player to their weapons, and their weapons to their meaty targets.
There's the foundation for a solid combat mechanism here, in evidence when elements like the blocking mechanism work. But too often, Denv merely presents his wrists towards his blade-wielding enemies like a suicidal Emperor Palpatine.
Falling in battle transports you into the nether realm where you lay prone until Esteban finishes a fight and catches up to revive you. This can result in some frustrating waits. Occasionally enemies stand idle, disengaged with the combat at hand after delivering a block – or even failing to join in the fight at all when it starts.
The game's camera also needs sorting out in advance of release. At present it has a tendency to lurch about, switching recklessly between exterior and interior.
But there are reasons to be cheerful, such as new feature Soul Burn. This targeted, magical style of combat is rather enjoyable, allowing you to place a slow, simmering effect on the incoming hordes of demonic enemies. Slowly they wither under the magical heat and collapse satisfyingly to the ground.
Brighter notes are also struck by the variety of interactive objects which litter the environments of The Cursed Crusade: drawing an enemy nearer to these objects opens up options to either barbecue their face over a searing brazier or hurl your opponent into a well, for example. Here's hoping we'll see more of these in the finished product.
And here's hoping the development team fixes the niggles and bugs which currently stand in the way of this becoming a must-play game. There's an intriguing concept at its heart, but there's a long road to be travelled from the game in its current state to one that's fit for an audience already spoiled for choice when it comes to violent action titles.
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