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Video Game / Crimson Shroud

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A lost treasure... A fool's fable, told in tales. A gift wrought by magic, in a world where magic never was. But is it blessing, or curse?

Crimson Shroud is a 2012 Adventure Game influenced by tabletop role-playing games, with the simulated usage of dice to determine the strength or weakness of certain effects. Originally packaged in the Guild01 set in Japan, it was later released as a standalone Nintendo 3DS eShop title in US and Europe. It is directed by Yasumi Matsuno and developed by Level5. Its first trailer can be seen here.

It tells the story of Giauque, Frea and Lippa: a team of three experienced "Chasers" who hunt criminals and treasures alike in a Medieval European Fantasy world. Arriving at a long-lost ruin in search of a forbidden manuscript, the trio find themselves drawn into the legend of the Crimson Shroud, fabled to be the origin of all magic.

Crimson Shroud contains examples of the following:

  • Ancient Artifact: The "gifts", which grant magical power to their wielder. The Church claim that the original gifts were divine relics created by God, and produce copies to distribute throughout the world. However, the "Defence of Heresy" manuscript is said to claim that the original gifts were temptations created by the Devil to entrap human souls. The truth is closer to the latter than the former: they were created through a Deal with the Devil.
  • Antagonist Title: The Big Bad, whose real name is Abigail, uses the moniker to lure adventurers to her prison.
  • Book Burning: Giauque, upon coming across a ransacked library with incredibly old books, wonders whether or not the goblins are destroying such precious knowledge deliberately.
    A few bloodied and torn pages lie in the corner—paper used for a sword rag. To the goblins, that's all these books are: paper, without any value beyond their physical use.
    Or maybe they do know their value, and they burn them anyway. The thought chills you more than any of the horrors you have seen in this place.
  • Character Level: Averted. All of your characters retain the same base stats throughout the entire game, which can only be enhanced by gathering better loot.
  • The Chessmaster: The Big Bad spread the rumor of the "Original Gift" to lure curious adventurers to her prison, hoping one such adventurer would be a Qish so that she can possess them and free herself.
  • Clone Degeneration: The gifts, which become less effective with each generation of copies that are made. The majority of gifts in general circulation are copies of copies of copies of copies, and possess a fraction of the power their originals had. A faction known as The Gatherers hoard the oldest (and most powerful) gifts for this very reason.
  • Creator Thumbprint: It's not an Ivalice game but it certainly feels like one due to Yasumi Matsuno's style.
  • Deal with the Devil: The Big Bad made one such deal so that she could take revenge on those who had betrayed her. The Chosen of the Solis made subsequent deals so they would have the power to fight against her, and later to fill the Sun-Gilt Palace with monsters that would stop anyone from freeing her.
  • Demonic Possession: What Abigail intends to do in order to free herself from the shackles of the Sun-Gilt Palace.
  • Downer Ending: The Frea with whom Flint has been speaking is actually Abigail, the Big Bad of the game, who is spinning a tale designed to lure Flint and his men into a trap. He falls for it and is trapped within the Sun-Gilt Palace along with Giauque and Lippi, leaving Abigail free to wreak havoc upon the world.
  • Dungeon Crawling: The plot of the game is Giauque, Lippi, and Frea scouring the Sun-Gilt Palace of the Rahab in search of the Defense of Heresy and the Crimson Shroud.
  • Early Game Hell: The first half of the game: you're learning the eccentricities of the battle system, the healing spells you have aren't quite good enough to match the damage you'll be receiving, and Chapter 2 confronts you with the infamous "grind a bunch of mobs until you get a rare drop" bit. It gets easier once you find the Healing Staff, which grants the Heal II spell and boosts your survivability tremendously.
  • Encyclopedia Exposita: The focus of the trailer.
  • Ethnic Magician: Frea (and by extension, the Qish). This is because they are direct bloodline descendants of the ones who received the original gifts via Deal with the Devil.
  • Fantastic Racism: The Qish, an ethnic group without a homeland who are persecuted for their "heretical" teachings. Then you find out the reason they don't have a homeland: they brought gifts into the world via Deal with the Devil and the resulting power struggle plunged the world into chaos.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: Abigail was executed in the most horrific way possible (they poured lead into her eyes and cut off her fingers and toes) because she loved the king while he had a wife. She was perfectly content with burying her feelings, but this betrayal pushed her across the Despair Event Horizon.
  • First-Person Smartass: Giauque displays some of this, usually toward Frea. He generally knows better than to snark the hell out of Frea aloud.
  • Foreshadowing: When speaking to Flint, Frea has a habit of wetting her lips. It's a tic she never displays when with Giauque and Lippi, hinting that the "Frea" talking to Flint is a different person.
    • In Chapter 1, Giauque's party is caught off-guard because something dampens the power of Lippi's gift. The entire place is cloaked in an Anti-Magic field designed to imprison and de-power the Big Bad, who is the Original Gift.
  • Genre Throwback: Of Tabletop RPGs, complete with the character models having metal bases as if they were gaming miniatures.
  • Guide Dang It!: Good luck figuring out where to find the key in Rahab without looking it up. note  Finding out how to access all of the new areas that can be found in New Game Plus can be frustrating as well, with more than one key being a rare item drop.
  • The Healer: If you want to stay alive in later battles, especially in New Game Plus, Frea is going to be taking on this role almost exclusively in most encounters.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Lippi. Such is his aim that his arrow can pierce both wings of a butterfly 100 paces away!
  • In the Blood: The ability of the Qish to use magic is a power inherent within their bloodline.
  • Jerkass: Flint, who — depending on player choice — will either (against the medic's protests) give the badly-injured Frea hilua powder, which is poison when someone's body is weakened, or else attempt to forcefully wake her up by brutally grabbing her by the nape of her neck, yelling in her face for her to awaken or he'll strangle her, and shaking her despite her life-threatening injuries. And then he has the poison poured down her throat anyway. The extreme reaction may come as something of a shock to the player, as the choices are either 'Demand again that Frea be wakened' or 'Shake Frea awake'. Many chose the second, expecting a gentle shaking of the shoulder rather than just about ripping the poor girl's head off.
    • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Despite all of this, and despite considering Giauque his enemy, once Flint learns the truth, he doesn't hesitate to gather a team and personally go into the palace after them in an attempt to either save them, retrieve their bodies, or cut down their reanimated bodies to give them peace in death. And this despite his previous three teams ending up dead.
  • Luck Manipulation Mechanic: Rolling dice to alter the accuracy of a move, which can be surprisingly complicated. note 
  • MacGuffin: The "Defence of Heresy" manuscript that Giauque is tasked with recovering. It's a historical record of the Qish that reveals the true origin of the Gifts. Giauque's employer seeks it as a means of gaining political leverage.
  • Multi-Melee Master: Giauque, who can use swords, knives, hammers, and axes.
  • New Game Plus: All learned skills and all items (except key items) are kept, enemies get stronger, and new areas can be accessed (complete with new chests and bosses). Why are there so many changes? Because the person telling the story is different, leading to the Golden Ending.
  • Nintendo Hard: The game is incredibly punishing, but all of the relevant information is there. Much like Vagrant Story, success comes from learning the mechanics of the game and adjusting your equipment/moveset to account for the enemy types. A weapon that offers a specific advantage against the enemy type you are facing tends to be far more effective than one that simply boosts your Attack stat.
  • Our Goblins Are Different: They have above-average intelligence and have oft been observed using the same magic spells and fighting techniques as humans.
  • Our Liches Are Different: They look more like reapers in the book entry on them.
  • Scarily Competent Tracker: Giauque is revered for his aptitude within the Chasers Guild.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Abigail, the person who made the original Deal with the Devil that led to the creation of the gifts. As she had been granted immortality from the pact, she had to be sealed away within the Sun-Gilt Palace.
  • Shout-Out: To MadWorld, a title that Yasumi Matsuno wrote for. Giauque (Jack) is a top agent for the Chasers Guild.
  • Stylistic Suck: The characters are rendered as nothing but playing pieces with little stands underneath them in order to simulate the tabletop feel. Probably saved a lot of money on needing to animate the characters-there is no animation for the cutscenes.
  • Unreliable Narrator: The revelation that the "Frea" Flint has been talking to is actually Big Bad Abigail sheds doubt on how much of her story was true and how much was a lie designed to lure Flint into her trap. The fact that the real Frea tells a different story in a New Game Plus (featuring harder enemies and new areas) hints that this is a more accurate version of events.
  • Visual Novel: Shades of it. There's no animation in the characters during cutscenes (they are, of course, just little figurines that can't move) so everything is described through verbose, Woolsey-esque narration.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: All three playable characters, but especially Giauque and Frea.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Abigail disguises herself as a wounded Frea in order to lower Flint's guard and tell him what he wants to hear.