Crimson Tears Updated Hands-On

Crimson Tears is a new anime-style, cel-shaded beat-'em-up from Capcom and developer Dream Factory that's due to hit stores in July. The game stars three hypercapable combatants--a buxom android named Amber and two "humanoid biological weapons," Kadie and Tokio--who will wage battle in the ruins of Tokyo in the year 2049. You won't just be mashing buttons to vanquish the hordes, though, as the game has some role-playing-game-style character upgrade elements as well. We got a chance to play around with a work-in-progress version of the game to see exactly what all this craziness is about. You can also check out some new movies and screenshots of the game in action.

Toss in one android, two "humanoid biological weapons," and a bunch of swords and guns, and you've got Crimson Tears.

We started a new game and were immediately put in control of Amber, although you'll also be able to switch to Kadie or Tokio at the outset if you want. Each of the three characters has a particular proficiency: Amber is good with melee weapons and can equip two swords at once; Kadie starts off as a hand-to-hand fighter and can handle heavy weapons; and Tokio is a firearms expert who often uses ranged attacks and can equip two guns at once. The three characters seem to have some innate differences as well based on their physical stature--Tokio seems to be a bit more resilient to damage, for instance, but is also slower than the girls. However, you'll be able to level each character up as you fight scores of enemies, which will help increase your health and other attributes.

You'll begin the game from a sort of hub in which you can talk to non-player characters that mostly seem to want to make a quick buck by selling you items. But you won't have much cash to buy things with until you whomp on a few enemies, so you'll first want to proceed into one of the game's randomly generated dungeons and unleash your combat skills. The fighting seems fairly simplistic, from what we've seen so far--you've got two melee attacks that can be strung together easily into longer combinations. The game uses a sort of sticky lock-on system that will automatically direct your attacks toward the nearest target, which takes some of the guesswork out of having to actually aim where you want to swing or shoot.

You can also use a ranged attack, such as a pistol, if you have the proper weapon equipped--as mentioned, Tokio excels at this and begins the game with a pistol already in his inventory. Your characters can block some incoming enemy attacks, although stronger attacks, such as those rendered by the first boss, really laid us out despite our attempts to block. A quick backstep maneuver will round out your defensive capabilities. This will help you quickly get out of the way of fast-moving enemies. You'll be able to buy new weapons or upgrade your existing ones as you play through the game, and apparently, if you end up with more than one of the same weapon, you'll strangely be able to combine the two to create one more-powerful version.

As mentioned, the dungeons in Crimson Tears are generated randomly each time you go through, which will obviously add an extra element of challenge to finding your way through. In the first dungeon we played through, we began to recognize particular rooms as we fought our way through, so it seems like the dungeons are simply constructed from a pool of prebuilt rooms that are put together in a random sequence. Despite the fact that your surroundings will become eminently familiar as you play, you'll never know exactly which direction to go no matter how many times you revisit a dungeon.

This liquid boss packs a real wallop, we painfully learned.

Graphically, Crimson Tears has a distinctive style. The characters are cel-shaded and have a very anime-like look, and they animate very fluidly and realistically. Most of the backgrounds we've seen so far are a bit sparse in detail but are functional otherwise, and everything moves at a nice smooth frame rate. We were impressed by the aforementioned big water monster that we fought at the end of the first dungeon. All of the voices in this build are still in Japanese, though we imagine they'll be redone in English for the game's American release--and indeed, we noticed some of the names in the English captions differing from those in the spoken Japanese. The bit of music we've heard so far in the intro had a distinctly J-pop flair, so we'll be interested to see if this sort of flavor is maintained in the American release of the game.

Based on our early experience, Crimson Tears seems like a solid little action game with some interesting character-building mechanics lurking behind what might otherwise be superficial beat-'em-up gameplay. The game has what looks to be an interesting, anime-like sci-fi storyline, and we're curious to see how this plays out when we receive a fully translated version of the game and delve further in. Crimson Tears is scheduled for release in July, so look for more on the game soon.

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