A Literal Tabletop RPG –
Crimson Shroud is a standout 3DS eShop downloadable title and labor of love created by Yasumi Matsuno of Vagrant Story and Final Fantasy Tactics fame. With wordy text boxes, layers of menus, and a complete lack of animation and fancy visuals, this niche title will undoubtedly please fans of the hardcore RPG genre.
Even though players don’t see it, pretty much every RPG incorporates some type of behind-the-scenes dice roll to determine attack strength, preemptive attacks, defense, and even accuracy. Crimson Shroud, however, uses the circle pad or stylus to literally roll dice on a virtual game board and all characters are represented by static statues tethered to a pedestal attached to their feet; the only animation in the game is a slight rattle of each statue character as they receive damage in combat. Gamers with ADD and need of constant action will probably fall asleep before the first battle begins but the statues and dice rolling mechanics gives this downloadable title its greatest sense of charm.
Cutscenes are long but expertly translated and depict a bleak fantasy world. Three characters that follow the typical video game troupe of swordsman, archer, and the female magic user are labeled as the underdogs trying to complete an adventure against all odds – think minotaurs, skeletons, magic, keys and treasures chests. Combat is strictly menu driven and forces the player to use strategy instead of mindlessly selecting the basic attack at every option; using buffs and debuffs is critical to success. There is also no leveling system. Instead, characters can change their stats and abilities by equipping different pieces of armor. Each encounter could prove deadly as there is a higher difficulty factor that serious tabletop RPG players will surely appreciate. Most players can finish the quest in well under 10 hours but there are occasional cheap hurdles to overcome that artificially increase play time like grinding to find a random loot drop, having no indication on where to go next, or backtracking needlessly.
Crimson Shroud is not for everyone; it is as simple as that. But fans who thoroughly enjoy getting lost in a dark fantasy world, like to be buried in menu systems, and do not need fancy visuals to hold your attention will find a high level of entertainment for persevering to the end. In the very least, there really is no other game like it on the Nintendo 3DS eShop.
Not As Good As: Tactics Ogre
Also Try: Ogre Battle
Wait For It: Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis – GBA (3DS eShop download)