Lucrezia, a prodigy from Aristocrat’s Academy Besieris is set to win an ancient trial to ensure that her faction gains power. Standing before her is Franzesca, the best student from Knight Academy Scelta. These two warriors will have to compete over each other to ensure that their faction is victorious and they are finally able to take a bath together again. Lucrezia especially can’t bring herself to forget Franzesca’s, pure white skin. This is the setup for Croixleur.
In Croixleur, you will have to defeat all of the enemies in a given floor before you are allowed to progress further into the tower. The further you go, the stronger the enemies become and the final level houses a final boss that is fairly intimidating. This is pretty much what you will do in Croixleur’s simple story mode.
Croixleur may be a simple game, but it’s refined to a degree that makes combat satisfying. Lucrezia’s main method of attacking is her 3-hit combo with her sword of choice, which is done by tapping the attack button repeatedly. However, simply repeating the combo will lead to a quick death as the combo involves a good deal of recovery time. Thankfully, Lucrezia can cancel her attack animation into either a dash or a special attack, which can lead her to safety or to deal that extra bit of damage to just dispatch an enemy.
In addition to move cancelling, Croixleur also provides several defensive options when Lucrezia is in a bind. Dashing provides a way out when being ganged up by multiple monsters and on top of that, provides a short amount of invincibility. It is an efficient evasive manoeuvre but its usage is dictated by the MP bar. Empty the MP bar and Lucrezia will be a sitting duck for a couple of seconds while the bar recharges.
Another method of avoiding damage is significantly more difficult, but is essential for survival in the higher difficulties. By timing an attack just as an enemy’s attack is hitting Lucrezia, the attacks will clash and cancel the corresponding damage. Clashes can be useful for mobs as they only attack in a single pattern, but can be more difficult to pull off on special monsters.
So if Croixleur is just a game about defeating everything that moves, wouldn’t that make it pretty easy and repetitive? In reality, Croixleur is far from being easy aside from the first few floors. After fooling you into a false sense of security in the first few floors, the enemies get stronger, faster and deadlier in the later levels. Avoiding damage is essential as health recovery items are only dropped by special enemies which are sparse and are difficult to dispatch.
In addition to the difficulty, Croixleur also imposes a time limit of 15 minutes to arrive at the bottom of the tower or it’s game over. A 15 minute time limit is actually not that strict, but it does add up to the tension to shave those precious seconds off before being treated to a game over screen. In case you are able to complete the game in less than 10 minutes, you will be treated to an alternate ending.
My only real complaint about Croixleur can be summarised by its lack of variety in enemy and landscape designs. Lucrezia will only fight on one arena throughout story mode and the only way to distinguish progress through different depths is by the colour of the arena. Enemy grunts are also given the palette swap treatment, giving a total of 7 unique enemy models with 3 of them being palette swapped multiple times. This is more likely a budget issue, considering Croixleur is a doujin game.
All-in-all, Croixleur provides a very entertaining, yet short burst of fun. It may not be the stylish-action game that it wants to be, but it provides more than enough action to keep you on your toes. It’s a bit too short for its own good, but trying for a no damage or speed run in story mode for the best time will give you a extra hours of enjoyment. Croixleur costs $4.99 or £3.49 via Rice Digital on PC.
Food for thought:
1. Weapons are unlocked by playing through story mode. Different weapons unfortunately only provide different aesthetics as Lucrezia’s attack animation is still the same no matter which weapon you use.
2. You can only hold a maximum number of 5 bombs. Each enemy defeated will drop coins. Collect 100 of these to replenish your bomb supply.
3. There are also time attack and endless mode to accompany the story mode. It is best to attempt these modes after a story mode playthrough to ensure that you have enough weapons to take on hordes of enemies.
4. Lucrezia levels up once she defeats enough enemies, but I couldn’t find a correlation between levelling and her stats.