Crimson Spires | Review | Nintendo Switch

  • Developer: Woodsy Studio
  • Publisher: EastAsiaSoft
  • Release Date: 11/08/2021
  • Price: £17.99 / $19.99
  • Review code provided by EastAsiaSoft

*Normally we would put the announcement trailer for the game review in question here. But the trailer is age gated and therefore we cannot display it here for you. You may watch the trailer here.

Introduction to the Crimson Spires Review

Going to be really upfront here with you folks reading this Crimson Spires review. I am not a big visual novel player. The genre as a whole has generally been an  enigma to me outside of titles like Dream Daddy, which almost every gamer knows about. That is not to say I dislike the genre or anything, but I often find it hard to find one that grabs my attention. That is until Crimson Spires came across my list. I am getting ahead of myself here. Let’s sink our teeth into this Crimson Spires review and see how the game stands out among the crowd.

Great Ring of Pillars

The story starts by following the escape of a serial killer, August Flynn, called The Heartbreaker. While returning from another assignment, Erika, the main character, is called by her boss at the FBI in order to respond to the crash of the transport van. This is by far not the main goal of the entire game. Shortly after finding the escaped supposed serial killer, a ring of giant spires rises around the city of Bataille, Missouri. Trapping everyone inside the ring and those who try to leave receive a nice head explosion for their trouble. 

This event later comes to be called The Contingency, though a lot of the characters don’t seem to know where the word for it came from. The story skips ahead six months, where several people, including the rest of the town’s law enforcement, have tried to escape by this point. Leaving Erika as the last remaining law enforcer within the town and the default Sheriff. A mystery breaks out within the town, regarding the disappearance of two teenagers, and the mystery deepens as various story threads are unraveled. Though I can’t talk too much more on the story without spoiling some major twists that I rather did enjoy.

Not Simply a Visual Novel

Personally, I feel that the fact that this is not just a straight visual novel helped me stay more engaged with Crimson Spires as a whole. There is of course the traditional visual novel styled game play. Where you follow along with the story through text boxes and various settings, occasionally picking a dialogue option and influencing your relationships with the characters in the story. This part is what I always struggle to engage with. As just building relationships and watching a story are not as exciting as simply watching a movie. Thankfully, Crimson Spires breaks this up with its other form of gameplay to offer up

Put Those FBI Skills to Work

This is indeed the same game

Being a former FBI agent comes with a certain degree of training. One thing that Crimson Spires does is include investigation segments into the core gameplay. Basically giving you a chance to free roam the environment you are currently in and interact with various things within it. Normally the game wants you to locate specific things during these segments, but it also gives the player a chance to find some more world-building elements. These segments are splashed through Crimson Spires and I felt that they really helped break apart the story in a way that helped keep me engaged with it.

Now I know these segments won’t matter to everyone playing the game. In fact they do tend to go against the typical ideas used within visual novel games, but I think these segments also help to showcase Erika as a main character, thus dragging you more into the story as you experience these things with her in a non-standard format. Although I will say that these scenes are not always the most pleasant to look at and appear to come straight out of store bought asset packs. 

Wonderful Visual Art Style and Effect

Okay, now I know I just hit Crimson Spires for an issue I had with the graphics in the investigation sections, but the art style for this game is pretty well done. The various characters are rather expressive in their depiction, and there is a lot of detail in various scenes throughout the game. It is a shame that the beautiful art style for the visual novel portion of the game wasn’t able to be carried through into the investigation portions of the game.

There were also moments where various screen effects were added to the ongoing scene. The first instance of this is like it is raining against your screen as a storm in-game rolls in. It was a minor touch but helped grab me immediately into the game. I wanted to see what other effects would appear to add to the visuals. Though visuals have another side of the coin and that comes in the form of the music.

Out of Tunes

Crimson Spires is not really hosting a very wide selection of music. In fact, this caused a major gripe I had with the game during my time with it. As during certain scenes the music wouldn’t exactly line up with what was going on. Like your assistant helps you up off of the ground at one point and there is this ominous music in the background. In fact, it really feels that Crimson Spires doesn’t have any relaxing, cheery background music. Everything in the town has to be mysterious all of the time, and while that fits with the central themes Crimson Spires is going for, it just felt jarring and pulled me out of the game world at times.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, I truly did enjoy my time doing this Crimson Spires review. While I don’t normally play Visual Novels, this game certainly has me interested in checking out more of them. The art style was a little mixed between the two forms of game play. And the music was a tad bit all over the place. But the story held me transfixed and kept me going like a good book. I didn’t even want to put it down until I saw how it ended, if that tells you any of how I enjoyed it.

Pros

  • Interesting story mode
  • Two forms of gameplay
  • Visual Novel art style is great
  • Interesting extra visual effects

Cons

  • Music is a little all over the place
  • Investigation art style looks store bought at times

Verdict

Crimson Spires is an interesting and mysterious visual novel well worth your time.

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