The first question I asked Atlus’s (remarkably tall) Scott Strichart when I began to play The Cursed Crusade was, "Is this some sort of RPG with brawler elements or something?"
Nope, he replied "just a brawler."
"But it’s like a brawler with role playing elements, right?"
"Not really, it’s a brawler"
"Not some sort of hybridized brawlPG or anything like that?"
"It’s just a brawler. Kind of a departure for us, actually"
At this point, my character Denz had impaled the first enemy I had found through the face, then beheaded him. Yep. This was a brawler alright.
I picked up my fallen enemy’s sword, putting my shield on my back to try a more offensive style. Using the time-honored method of light and heavy attacks mapped to square and triangle, my blows shattered the armor straight off of my foes, leading to knee-skewering finishing moves. After noticing my quickly dwindling health, I switched back to using a sword and shield with the d-pad for a bit more defense.
My battle proceeded to a well, and I tossed a few enemies into it when they got too close. My assault continued unrestrained, with my ally (which was AI-controlled, but cooperative play is available!) holding enemies still long enough for me to slash to bits. After clearing the area of enemies, I moved into the next area, only to be greeted by arrows sent from the ramparts of a nearby building. As I fumbled with my bow (draw with L2, shoot with R1!), my ally took out the archers, clearing our path and allowing us to move on.
When I started to worry about my minimal health, Scott told me that I could gain health by engaging the Templar’s Curse with L1. Generally the Templar’s Curse (a curse that Denz is afflicted with by virtue of his blood) just makes Denz stronger (while making him grow horns, leaving a molten hole in the ground, and causing the world appear as a nightmarish hell full of skeletons) and allows him to rip the souls from his enemies, but the curse gauge can also be used to heal Denz, instead of just violent destruction.
Freshly healed, I had Denz pick up two enemy-dropped maces and wield them akimbo, a combination that was much slower than any of my blades, but even more devastating, removing my squishy enemies from their heavy armor in a matter of strikes and pounding their ears together with some particularly cringe-worthy finishers. Shortly after performing one of these, Denz smashed another enemy’s face into a burning torch, inspiring me to ask, "Is this really the good guy? He’s so angry!" — only to be informed that the curse in his blood makes him very grumpy.
The Cursed Crusade will be doing terrible things to heads, knees, faces, and presumably other body parts in Fall 2011.