Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Roll for initiative and download Crimson Shroud

To many gamers, traditional gaming dice hold an almost mythic sort of appeal.

These peculiar, plasticky polyhedrons recall hours spent huddled around a gaming table with friends, engaging in the type of fantasy escapism and camaraderie that games like Dungeons and Dragons provided long before the siren's song of MMORPGs was ever heard.

Yet for many gamers, these dice also carry with them the bitter sting of nostalgia.  As life wears on and family and careers begin to intrude on time formerly spent on hobbies and fun, it becomes increasingly more difficult to round up a group of friends to spend hours chucking dice around a table in the name of adventure.

Japanese game designer Yasumi Matsuno knows this well, and his most recent game - Crimson Shroud - is designed with this older crowd of nostalgic, dice-obsessed gamers in mind as it faithfully recreates the tabletop gaming experience for the 3DS.

In Crimson Shroud, you take control of a party full of miniatures and you roll dice to determine the outcome of abilities and skills.

Because your characters and the enemies they encounter are actual miniatures, you won't have to  suffer through ridiculously complicated attack animations - instead, they'll simply flash and totter about a bit before numbers appears on the screen.  When they die, they topple over onto their sides and lie prone and pitiable, just as they did on the Cheeto-dusted gaming table from your gaming youth.

This dry combat mechanic may sound like a bit of a hard sell to those who have never made a single THAC0 roll, but considering that Yasumi Matsuno was responsible for the development of Final Fantasy Tactics and Tactics Ogre, he's a name that most gamers can probably trust to churn out an interesting game.

Despite its epic scale and concept, Crimson Shroud is a short (~10 hour) mini-game in nature, and can be downloaded from the Nintendo eShop for the humble price of $7.99.

Yet RPG fans would do well not to discount Crimson Shroud for its short playtime, as it has plenty lot to offer fans of traditional RPGs and JRPGs alike - namely, a full soundtrack composed by Hitoshi Sakimoto (who also, by no coincidence, did the music for Tactics Ogre).

For those who can no longer find the time to sit down with their weekly gaming groups, Crimson Shroud looks like just the tincture to soothe the symptoms of tabletop gaming withdrawal.