Cross of the Dutchman crossed my desk ages ago, and I finally got around to actually giving it a shot. Part of me is glad I did, but the other part is making me question what I find enjoyable in videogames these days.
I love indie games, and I love action games. Every so often I find a unique gem that I can’t put down. Cross of the Dutchman, however, isn’t that good. But it is a game that tries really hard, and I can appreciate the effort. Because there are moments of enjoyment experienced when playing. It’s just too hard to keep trying to have fun, and you end up finding yourself grunting in frustration more often than not.
History time! Pier Gerlofs Donia was a man in the province known as Frisia around the time of the 16th century. During this time, the Saxons were aiming to control Western Europe with Pier and his family in the middle of this occupation. The soldier’s occupation were making it almost impossible for people to live in the villages. Upon helping his fellow man, Pier’s actions ended escalating the Saxon’s hostile occupation. As such, Pier recruited every farmer he could find to create a militia to fight the Saxons. His actions and bravery became a legend. Although highly stylized, the game’s story does follow the source material rather well. It is a fantastic tale of rebellion and courage.
That’s really where the game stops getting interesting for me. CotD’s combat is very limited as in the gameplay in general. Left click all the things! Left click is your basic attack and right click is the special attack. You can change your special by buying them with gold you find laying around in chests, crates, and defeated enemies. There is a very small and simple combo system as well.
While simplicity is fine in gaming, Cross of the Dutchman‘s use of it is stunted with incredibly jarring and wooden animations. Not only is it hard to look at, it makes fighting more than three enemies slightly aggravating. Defeating enemies is satisfying not because you overcame the odds by being outnumbered, but because you had the patience to try and fight the enemies. When you mix that with bad hitboxes, combat becomes a chore and the least entertaining part of an action game.
While being short and somewhat frustrating to play, the story is the best aspect about Cross of the Dutchman along with the well illustrated cutscenes. For about 10 bucks, you get about as much as you would expect. If you like history and legends, think about this game next time it goes on sale. Other than that, you aren’t missing much. You can pick it up on Steam now.