In Cross of the Dutchman, you play as Pier, the farmer who turned into the commander of a Frisian army, an example for all people who were oppressed by the Saxon invaders.
Cross of the Dutchman – Review
Based on the Dutch Legend and Frisian rebel leader Pier Donia “Grutte Pier” (Big Pier), a huge man who raised a rebellion against the invading Saxons of that era, I found it very easy to be taken in by Cross of the Dutchman‘s story. It’s a story about how Pier stands up to the invaders when others would submit and, as such, becomes a target of his enemies and all the consequences that implies.
Within the first 10 minutes of the game you can tell there’s something dark on the horizon for the hero as he stands up to groups of Saxons only to make things escalate uncontrollably as each act of defiance is met with violent, ever more terrible, acts of revenge upon Pier’s people. Inevitably leading to all out war between the two factions.
The story is told very well and the dark subject matter is handled well enough so that you really feel for the character’s plight and revel in his small victories over the Saxons. It’s unfortunate that the core gameplay between the storytelling is so… average. The game plays much like action RPGs such as Diablo except that battles aren’t fast paced and there is no skill level up system, only a handful of skills and literally no loot aside from currency used to purchase abilities and upgrade Piers health and stamina. It’s sort of an old school idea of only fighting to simply progress the story and not see any sort of character progression. In fact, despite the idea of battling armies of soldiers, Pier only manages to get himself a real weapon about half way into the game. I wont say that batting around baddies with your bare hands isn’t fun on its own but I suppose I’ve grown accustomed for getting SOMETHING for my efforts.
The graphics, despite having an appealing art-style and being pleasantly colorful, are somewhat outdated. While I understand this is not a AAA title I still think there’s a place for more variation in map objects and foliage. After a while of play everything begins to look the same and it would have been nice to see a little more diversity.
From a technical perspective though the game is stable. I encountered no bugs during my playthrough and collisions during combat (between fist and face for example) were sound. Despite filming my gameplay I had little to no framerate drops so can only commend the developers on this aspect of the game. Even at times when there were many warriors on the screen (such as during large battles) the game performed well. So when you swung your 7ft sword at the hordes of enemies you can take every second to watch their bodies fly satisfyingly around the battlefield.
It should be noted however that Mouse/Keyboard play is impossible, especially since combat involves you kiting a lot of enemies across the field as you regain health in between attacks. Playing with a PC controller is essential.
I feel that had Cross of the Dutchman been released about 5 years ago it would be known as a fantastic example of what an indie games should endeavor to be like. It’s ambitious, interesting and, for the most part, fun. It’s characters are deep and memorable and dialog is well written.
However, this isn’t 2010, and Cross of the Dutchman has to stand alongside many great action adventure indie games that just get it right, completely. Despite all it’s good qualities I just find the game too… average. And short. Way too short… like 3 hours.
On that note however I truly hope there’s some sort of sequel to Cross of the Dutchman as despite my complaints I did enjoy playing the game and want more. I feel a larger budget and more time for the developers to iron out some extra features for the game would really make the story of “Big Pier” something great.