Cross Of The Dutchman is a fast paced and brutally unforgiving competitive jump rope game where you compete for high stakes in the seedy criminal underworld of illegal jump rope competition gambling. Wait, no, scratch that. I am mistaken, that is not this game. That is Cross Of The Double Dutchman (Jokes like this is why you aren’t a humor columnist–Editor). Cross Of The Dutchman is an adventure game where you control Pier Gerlofs Donia, famed European folk hero. Like many games that are based on history or folklore, this game does take some creative liberties for the sake of storytelling and working into the context of a game, but I would say this game is essentially an origin story where Pier begins his career as a rebel leader. On the way to the market to trade vegetables for fish so his wife Rints can prepare dinner, Pier is accosted by armed brigands. Being a sensible man who is fearful of the wrath that would befall him if he disappoints Rints by losing his money, the vegetables, and failing to procure fish he does the only logical thing and beats the living snot out of his muggers.
Pier continues on his way to the local fishmonger and his day goes from bad to worse when he learns that the supply of fish has been taken by some Saxon soldiers. Once again the weighing of pros and cons takes place, return home without the fish to his wife or forcibly take back the fish from Saxons? Naturally, the next part of the game has Pier facing off multiple armed guards and he simply punches them out and snags the fish. The fishmonger is grateful, and he returns home with fish. Disappointing the wife has been avoided, so Pier starts listening to some Ice Cube because it was a good day.
The peace of course is short lived because otherwise this would be a 15 minute game. The Saxons have sent in more troops and are making trouble in the neighborhood, and since Pier has already got in one little fight and Rints got scared she said he’s moving with his auntie and uncle in Bel Air (Stop. Just stop.–Editor). Word had spread to the townspeople how Pier can punch out multiple guards and does not fear their swords or arrows. On condition the Farmers Market Association agrees to turn a blind eye to any performance enhancing supplements that might show up in a random screen, Pier agrees to help remove the Saxons. The game progresses from here as you go from point to point where you aid someone or try to recruit support. Pesky Saxon soldiers try to thwart your attempts along the way but whatever. There are 12 of them with armor and swords, you have a beard and forearms that look like how Popeye’s would if his physiology was even slightly realistic looking. Seriously, what kind of weight training program would result in forearms having 10 times the girth and circumference of the upper arm?
Back to the topic at hand, legions of soldiers relentlessly come after Pier and he simply punches them all out. Pier is pretty much the toughest man alive, and part way through the game he gets a sword, not that he really needs one, that is 7 feet long and 15 lbs. Most encounters in the game with the Saxons are handled in a brawler fashion, though there are a couple sections where Pier needs to stealthily sneak past some guards. While not overly challenging I felt these sections did not quite gel with the rest of the game, as a lone Saxon with a sword and torch would pose no where near the threat the small battalions Pier was using as punching bags earlier in the day did. The game is relatively short, it takes approximately three hours to complete. This is somewhat unfortunate because at the end of the game I wanted it to continue. I suppose it is better to end with the player wanting more than spending the last couple hours wishing for it to be over already.
The pacing of the story telling is right in that sweet spot where it doesn’t feel rushed but does not belabor the point either. It begins simple enough with some obnoxious guards and it soon becomes apparent that something much bigger is in the process of playing out. Besides the brevity of the game, my only other major complaint is the battle controls are not as responsive as I would have liked, but nothing to the level that makes the game unplayable or even unbeatable. Pier would throw punch combinations that after landing a hit or two he would be swinging wildly at air, stepping past numerous guards who had no trouble laying swords on him. Overall I enjoyed this game quite a bit, but see it more as showcasing the potential the studio has. This could have been a truly stellar game if the studio polished the controls and expanded the content. I would like to see some expansion DLC made for this game, or a sequel where they continue the story but flesh out the game some more. Everything here is good, and I would like to see more of it. Twitterpate me