As soon as I saw a screenshot for Croixleur, I was drawn in by its cute, yet simple, design. The gameplay looked flashy, colourful and full of life, which is exactly how it feels when playing. The game itself is a fast paced arcade hack and slash, consisting of several modes all with the same objective – to kill all the enemies on screen as fast as you can.
The story mode follows the extremely brief tale of two factions, who have been fighting for control over their joint nation for generations. The factions are made up of the ‘Aristocrats’ and the ‘Knights’. You play as ‘Luc’, an Aristocrat, who has been chosen to take part in an ancient ritual that decides which faction gets to rule over the nation for the next generation. The ritual, named ‘The Adjuvant Trial’, pits one student of each rivalling faction against each other in a fight to the top of a tower, taking on more difficult enemies the higher they climb and culminating in a boss fight on the top floor. The story sounds complicated and deep, but it’s realistically nothing more than a few lines of text shown at the opening of the game, followed by a short encounter with rival student ‘Fran’ at the very start of story mode. The story, in general, feels thrown together as if it was created just to give the the player a reason to progress through the tower. If you unlock the true ending, you are rewarded a little more insight into the adjuvant trial as Fran reveals its true purpose, which is just as unsatisfying as the story itself.
Although the story is lacking, it is clear that this game is all about quick combat and that’s where it shines. The mechanics are incredibly simple and there’s no sign of any real combo system. You are given a basic slash that you can use 3 times in quick succession, a dash, a ‘bomb’ attack and a variety of special attacks. The slash is your main means of attacking, but the dash is incredibly important. Once you finish your basic, special or bomb attacks, you cannot move your character straight away. It wouldn’t be fair to have your character attack infinitely, and so your character needs to take a fraction of a second to become mobile again, more than enough time for you to be attacked. With the dash, you can instantly recover by dashing mid attack or just as your attack is ending. This not only lets you escape, but allows you to dash into another set of attacks instantly, keeping on the pressure. Using the dash to effectively maneuver around the battlefield is the secret to Croixleur. It’s all about swiftly attacking your enemies, then quickly assessing whether to go for another attack or to dash away and take on a different group of nearby enemies whilst the first finish their attack cycle.
Using the dash costs MP, as do special attacks, so it’s essential for you to keep an eye on your MP level, or you may just find yourself open to a damaging blow. There are a total of 10 unique special attacks to choose from, but you can only equip 4 at once. Each special attack is attached to a weapon that must first be unlocked in story mode and is entirely used for the selection of special attacks. Originally, you only start with only one weapon and must unlock the others through story mode by choosing different paths when the choice is presented to you. Whilst the different paths seem to make no difference to the next area and certainly don’t change the story, each one contains a new weapon, meaning that it takes at least 2 playthroughs to unlock everything. Finally, the last means of attack is the ‘bomb’. Using a bomb is supposed to be your last resort – it causes Luc to spin around for a short amount of time, highly damaging and knocking back all nearby enemies, giving you time to escape when you are surrounded. You start with 3 bombs and gain extra ones by collecting 100 of the coins that enemies drop when killed. Killing enemies also levels you up, an RPG element that increases your health and MP.
Combat is what Croixleur is all about, and you are given 3 different game modes to harness your skills. The first, as mentioned, is story mode which is all about clearing rooms of enemies and making your way to the top of a tower. You are given 15 minutes to complete this mode, so a game can’t possibly last any longer than that, short and sweet. The second is endless mode, where you stay in one area and fight an infinite amount of enemies, trying to rack up as many points as possible. The more you kill, the tougher they get, whilst also allowing more enemies to be spawned on screen at once, crowding you and trying to force you into using a bomb to escape. The last is score attack, where you have to survive for 3 minutes whilst killing as much as possible to try and beat the high score.
Although the game is fun, it’s easy to play through each mode once in a little over 15 minutes and once you’ve played for an hour, there is nothing else really left to do. It only takes 2 quick playthroughs to collect all of the weapons and getting the true ending requires you to beat story mode in a time limit that’s fairly lenient. Of course, the game is arcade style and is supposed to be short;unfortunately, it’s also rather easy once you’ve gotten the hang of it. After only playing a few times, you’ll understand how the game works and can earn an S rank in any mode almost every time. The high-scores aren’t very high and there’s no online leaderboards, which would have been a great feature for a game like this. To be able to contest against friends or even post scores to social networks would be a great addition to Croixleur. Another update I’d like to see is the ability to play as Fran and the possibility of playing with a different set of skills, as it would add another level of replayability to the game. These are only minor complaints, as the game itself is very polished and delivers exactly what it promises – fast paced action with that great arcade feel. For the low price of just £3.52 ($4.99), it’s definitely worth picking up.
You can support Croixleur on Steam Greenlight here – http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=114203390