Hello Time Wasters.
How many of you remember my review of Fairy Bloom Freesia? Well I have another game this week that reminded me a lot of that one. Another Japanese doujin, Croixleur is a game where you play as the stereotypical underage, sword wielding anime girl. I was actually looking forward to playing this game once I saw how exactly it worked, but much to my disappointment, Croixleur didn’t stand up.
The first thing I noticed that sent up a red flag was on the game’s boot up screen. On it, it said that Croixleur would be best played with a gamepad, whatever right? I played Freesia with a controller, so no big deal. But I gave it a shot, keyboard first (I was too lazy to get my controller at the time), and was made painfully aware of just how much I wished I had my Xbox controller. The attacking controls weren’t the problem, but using the arrow keys made moving about the stage difficult as you couldn’t as easily move in some directions. Also, with the keyboard, when the camera controls are two rows of keys up from your attack buttons, you’re basically stuck looking in one direction at all times.
So after I had it out with the keyboard I finally plugged in my controller, only to find that the only thing the game recognized was the joystick. There was nothing in the game’s options that messed with controls either, so I was stuck using the joystick to move while still using the keyboard for attacking. But surprisingly enough, even that small change made a huge difference to gameplay (Still had no way to move my camera though). So biggest complaint: if you’re going to have your game played best with a gamepad, it might be a good idea for the game to actually recognize the whole gamepad.
The only other thing I can really discuss, gameplay wise, is just how repetitive the game is. You fight the same enemies or recolorings of the same enemies over and over again, so it definitely makes those few new boss monsters stand out in the crowd when they appear. There are also three modes to the game where you basically do the same thing: kill as many things as you can as quickly as you can. In Story Mode you have to fight all the monsters as fast as possible to get to the tower’s top, in Score Attack you defeat as many monsters as you can in three minutes, and in Endless you kill things until you die. You know, all your basic hack-n-slash challenges.
Stepping away from the grief of controls and the game’s mechanics, I’m going to dive into the shallow puddle that is the game’s story. You play as Lucrezia Visconti, a young girl from the Aristocrat Academy who must face off against her once childhood friend Francesca Storaro from the Knight Academy. Whoever fights their way to the top of the tower in The Adjuvant Trial first, wins the rite for their faction to be the ruling authority under the queen. More than that, there doesn’t seem to be anything.
Alongside the less than stellar story you have Lucrezia and Francesca themselves, who both have personalities that are lacking to say the least. Lucrezia jumps between acting like she cares one minute to being lazy and not caring the next, neither attitude packing any real punch. At least Francesca is consistent with her ‘I’ve got something to prove’ demeanor. Add to that the overly awkward opening dialogue about bathing and I hang my head with the words "Oh Japan…" running through my mind.
But let’s ignore, for now, the overused Japanese stereotypes and those culture aspects that us in the USA would find creepy. What else is to this game? Well, the look of it is actually quite nice: characters look good, the effects play well and everything flows together nicely. Honestly, I can’t complain about anything in this area. The music is good too (except my main theme glitched so it was driving me nuts with the sounds of skipping; hopefully no one else has this problem though).
All in all Croixleur doesn’t bring anything new to the table, and with its finicky controls it left me feeling further displeased since I knew I would have liked it better if the gamepad simply would have worked as promised.
That being said, Croixleur earns 2 GiN Gems out of 5 for not really cutting it.