The life of a crime fighter can be a lonely existence. Whether you are a superhero or a detective, friends are scarce and trust is a limited commodity. How would you cope if your world got turned upside down? Everything you knew, trusted, and loved was wrenched away from you in a blink of an eye. Crimson Spires explores this with its seedy, romantic, and supernatural plot.
Developed by Woodsy Studios and published by Eastasiasoft Limited, this is a detective visual novel with an adventure romance twist. Set in the backwards mining town of Bataille, you control FBI agent Erika Wright. She has the perfect job; people she loves, nice coworkers, and a pleasant home. This is suddenly taken from her as she becomes trapped by mystical towers that kill anyone if they attempt to leave. People try to escape and lose their lives, leaving Erika as the only law enforcement agent in town. Promoted to the sheriff, she must uphold the law while trying to solve the surrounding mysteries.
Crimson Spires is a gripping drama with some compelling and odd characters.
The drama comprised within Crimson Spires starts immediately. You are thrust into the story as Erika is called to assist a crashed prison wagon carrying August, an alleged serial killer. On arrival, the devastation is obvious, and a standoff begins between law enforcement and August. Out of nowhere, metallic towers rise from the ground, encompassing the town of Bataille, and trapping the residents in their newfound prison. This day becomes known as the Contingency! The townsfolk are split in their beliefs; some think it’s an act of God, and he’s helping to protect them from the Devil. Others think it’s a test and a punishment for past indiscretions. Whatever the cause, it’s your job to solve the mystery and keep the people safe.
This far-fetched story unravels like a visual novel. Crimson Spires demands that you sit up and take note, while reading an awful lot of text. I loved this as the writing is fantastic and the characters are odd and compelling. Sexual tension bounces around every scene and you are repeatedly thrown off the scent with red hearings and conspiring characters.
Options, options, options, and supernatural beings.
Dialogue choices and actions that impact the story alter the course of the plot. You are free to influence this tale to romance anyone who you feel will provide valuable information. This was thoroughly enjoyable and allowed my inner detective to get to work. You push through each chapter making sense of all the information. This isn’t easy as new characters are added regularly and their introduction only muddies the water further.
With multiple romance roots, the developers introduced an NG+ mode. This allows gamers to delve deeper into the story once all avenues are exhausted. This was an excellent choice as it gives the plot a definitive ending and closes up any gaping plot holes.
My favourite element was the odd blend of characters and the heavy influences of religion. The “everyday” folk are unfazed by introducing an alleged murder or the rich vampires who appear in charge. This ridiculous basis for the story was absurd, but it made it compelling, dark, and I loved it nonetheless. This is a tale where you let it wash over you and you ignore the sensibilities of real life. If you can do that, you’ll fall for its seedy and mysterious charms from the first chapter.
Crimson Spires is both brilliant and poor in the presentation department.
When a game splits itself across two distinct genres, it always runs a risk. Sadly, Crimson Spires falls foul of this as its visual presentation is both brilliant and poor. The still imagery and character details have a Manga/Anime influence. With the usual OTT reactions to emphasise emotions, it relies heavily on tried and tested mechanics. Where it slips, however, is when the game flips to a first-person adventure. With dated graphics and rough textures, it stands out against the polished finish.
The audio also splits itself into two methods of working, and this was bizarre. During key scenes, it’s acted and this adds atmosphere and depth. Yet, other moments are accompanied only by the eerie and soft music used throughout. I guess the developers wished to emphasise the key moments, but as I played, it made little sense, and only added confusion.
A typical visual novel with simple controls.
The controls for Crimson Spires are basic and straightforward to master. There are no complexities in how the game handles and you’ll have zero issues with playing it. The gameplay is smooth, and I had no problems during my time in this dark world.
Visual novels rarely have replay value. Their linear plots allow for one playthrough before things become repetitive. This is different thanks to the multiple romance options and the addition of the NG+ mode.
Crimson Spires is an addictive tale that’s just a little absurd.
To get the most out of this, you need to leave your sensibilities at the front door. You’ll enjoy the bizarre plot for what it is and love the mystery as it unfolds. I enjoyed the dark romancing plot and I recommend you to buy it here! Losing your liberties by committing a crime is one thing, but this is something else. Form unexpected partnerships, question your suspects, and romance whoever is useful.