Cross Of The Dutchman
Reviewed on: PC (exclusive)
Crowdfunding can be a double-edged sword. In some cases, campaigns garner massive support and reach their goals within a matter of hours, but for every Bloodstained and Yooka-Laylee there are dozens of titles that fail to meet their goals. Some of these fade into obscurity, and others, like Cross of the Dutchman, try to push out a finished product anyway. Unfortunately, the final result is a bit like if you tried to make a cake and found out midway through that you only had a third of the sugar required in the recipe. Sure, you can continue making the cake, but it’s gonna be a big fluffy pan of bland. This is precisely the case with Cross Of The Dutchman.
Presented as an isometric brawler in the vein of Torchlight or Diablo, the basic premise in Cross Of The Dutchman is the life of Dutch folk hero Pier Gerlofs Donia, a guerilla fighter who helped repel a Saxon invasion during the 16 Century. What could have been an interesting bit of historical fiction instead reads like a terrible attempt to emulate every mediocre medieval television drama ever produced, with writing full of strange anachronisms like “what the heck” and all major events shown in a lighthearted, unimportant manner. Characters also like to spend time reminding us how big Pier is. I’m hard-pressed to think of a single NPC who doesn’t mention his size.
Gameplay in Cross of The Dutchman consists of fetch quests for the first hour or so, and then tries in vain to vary things with some two-button combat and horribly paced stealth sections. Character growth is limited to a few upgrades to health and damage, and the only choices of weapon are your fists or a sword. Combat works, but that’s about the best that can be said for it. Auto-attacking can change Pier’s location slightly with each swing, even when holding down the “attack in place” key, leading to frustration when trying to keep large groups of enemies at bay. There are a handful of special attacks that you can purchase, but none of them are particularly impressive.
The music is forgettable, and environment design, while never awful, is bland. To its credit, the game runs smoothly, and the art for the character portraits is enjoyable. For me, the worst part of the game is that it’s so utterly bland. It’s a complete product that feels like a demo version—like there’s some fantastic title just around the corner that this game is just leading up to, but that isn’t the case. The visuals are clearly meant for a game with a scope far more ambitious than the one we’re given. I want to see a game that explores the legend of Pier Donia in its full scope, where I get to experience the driving forces that made him into a folk hero centuries later. Give me a game that makes me take command of a force of like-minded guerillas as it progresses, letting me fight for the freedom of my people on a grand scale. Don’t give me Cross of the Dutchman.
If there’s something to take away from Cross Of The Dutchman, it’s that sometimes projects need to be allowed to die. Wasted potential seeps from every crack of this game, and I’m left with a sense of profound regret that we didn’t get to see the finished product as Triangle Studios intended.