With the rise of Steam and the advent of the indie bundle, it’s probably safe to say that we live in a Golden Age of indie gaming. There have been indie games that came out in the past few years that I would recommend far and above the most frenetic AAA cover-based shooter. Croixleur, a decidedly Japanese hack ‘n slash title developed by souvenir circ. seeks to enter that hallowed indie pantheon after the folks at Nyu Media localized it for North American audiences.
After starting the game up again I managed to get into the game, where I got my second disappointment. This game looks like a Nintendo DS or 3DS game. Background textures are a bit blurry, character models aren’t particularly fluid, and I noticed a lot of screen tearing (with no option to enable V-sync). It isn’t terrible, but it certainly isn’t particularly inspiring either. The lackluster technical graphics could have been overcome by a really distinctive art direction, but Croixleur lacks any sense of style. Audio is similarly bland. The sound design and music are proficient, but nobody will clamoring to buy the soundtrack.
Croixleur’s mediocre production values could be forgiven if the gameplay delivered some thrills, but this is where the game really falters. For a game billed as a “frenetic hack & slash arcade action game“ Croixleur is surprisingly dull. Each and every level plays the same: appear in a tiny circular arena, kill all the monsters, teleport to the next tiny arena, rinse, and repeat. The combat is pretty shallow, giving the player a three attack combo, and two special attacks. Croixleur has nothing approaching the intricate, intelligent combat of a game like DmC or Bayonetta. Killing enemies will net you experience, but there doesn’t seem to be any kind of progression—level 1 felt exactly the same as level 55. You’ll also gain access to new weapons as you play the game, but the differences between them are merely cosmetic
Croixleur is a game with a singular lack of ambition. With boring graphics and audio, dull combat, and the problems with the control setup, I’d be hard pressed to recommend this to anybody. It’s true that the game is only $5.00, but there are a lot of better games you can spend that fiver on. Croixleur isn’t broken, but it is aggressively mediocre.