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Review : Cross of the Dutchman

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Cross of the Dutchman is an action-adventure tale based on the true story of the folk legend Pier Donia. Big Pier as he was called, was 7 feet tall and strong enough to bend a coin between his thumb and forefinger. While Pier starts life as a simple farmer with a loving family, Cross of the Dutchman will take you through the escalation of the Frisian rebellion against Saxon rule, through the eyes of one of its most feared warriors. Americans love stories about rebellion, and as someone with both Anglo-Saxon and Dutch heritage, I found the story to be humorous and highly engaging. However the Saxons aren’t identifiable at any point. They just walk around and be despicable until Pier walks up to wallop them.

I’m always pretty disappointed by one-dimensional villains. I find this kind of duality quite often in Cross of the Dutchman, where I enjoy something but can’t help thinking it could be more polished. The clothing and buildings all fit within the time period of the 1500s, but the towns and roads have no discernable feel to them, and it makes the artistic style lose a lot of its magic in the vast sameness. The music and sounds are extremely well done and I love the graphical style, but the storyline takes around 3 hours to complete and doesn’t offer much aside from finding chests and smashing Saxons. Defeating foes is relatively easy, but the controls for doing so feel hindered. Attacks carry you forward slightly, making it hard to land a complete combo.

I often found myself stuck on bushes or fences, and while you can see your outline through the tree-tops the same does not hold true dipping behing buildings. This sometimes presents a problem during the stealth missions that you are plunged into quite randomly, and getting caught can sometimes mean having to replay the previous 4 minutes of the chapter. To label this game an RPG would be a rather large stretch. There are 4 stat upgrades available and 7 or 8 power attacks. Once you’ve bought those and put them to use running through the story once, you’ve largely extruded all the entertainment that Cross of the Dutchman has to offer.

Is it a game worth $9? Perhaps if you’re interested in the history of this man and the rebellion. The art style and music alone will likely please the casual gamer, but the hardcore crowd will find themselves wanting much more. I was largely moved by the ending, simultaneously distraught that it really is the ending. I’ll never be the blood-thirsty maniac pirate that decapitated seven men with a single stroke of his 6-foot blade. Oh I’ve slain a fair number of Saxons but I did it as a family man, out of love for kin and country. What ever happened to good old revenge-driven piracy? Not in this game. When all is said and done in the story you are left to replay the last battle or start a new game a’la Fallout: New Vegas, but with only one save slot. In order for me to tell all my friends to run out and buy Cross of the Dutchman, it will need to offer a lot more content with a little more polish. While it is a decent game with some historical value, I find the gameplay average at best and would suggest catching it on sale. All criticism is purely constructive. Thanks to Triangle Studios for the review copy.

 

Gameplay:

  • Controls- 4/10
  • Fun Factor- 3/10
  • Difficulty-2/10
  • Replayability- 0/10
  • Innovation- 5/10

Aesthetic:

  • Graphics- 8/10
  • Music- 9/10
  • Sound FX- 8/10
  • Story/Lore- 6/10
  • Level Design- 3/10

Final Score: 48/100 or 2.4/5

Summary: A historical rebellion in a beat-em-up style.

Verdict: Enjoyable and engaging, but far too short for the hardcore crowd.

Cross of the Dutchman was released on Steam Early Access September 10th 2015.

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