In my ever-widening search for a game that sticks with me for longer than a few weeks I have stumbled across a battle royale I hadn’t played before: I found the free-to-play title CRSED: F.O.A.D. (henceforth referred to as simply CRSED because that’s just too many capitals and acronyms for one game) and thought that it looked like it could be a cool, fun way to kill a handful of evenings. What I got instead was a way to kill my expectations of having fun those evenings.
Before we get into that, though, let’s talk about the name and history of CRSED briefly. Apparently the game was originally thought up as a sort of way of mocking games like PUBG by creating a BR where players utilized largely kitchen utensils – think of PUBG’s infamous frying pan and related litigation – in a silly way. The game was actually an April Fools’ joke called Cuisine Royale, and in fact, the executable and many of the internal files still use this name. However, in December 2020, after a couple of years of availability, the developers at Darkflow Studio decided to get a bit more serious and rebranded the game as Cuisine Royal Second Edition: Fulfillment of All Desires, or CRSED: F.O.A.D. With the rebranding came a striping of much of the kitchen theme and a focus on a darker, more mystical vibe, and yes, the developers do call this an MMO, though it’s not an MMORPG.
The issue for me is that the change overall removed any real personality the original game had. Still, if you were a fan of the original game sit down, grab a bowl, and perhaps you’ll be able to find some semblance of what you once enjoyed in here.
Battle passes, character unlocks, and currencies
Right off the bat, the game starts up and shows you just how little of the game is available for F2P gamers. By that I mean you are shown the 10 heroes available, but you are allowed to pick between only two of them.
It seems that every week the freely available heroes rotate out. So this week you might have Cowboy Bebop and Faye Valentine, while next week it could be Edward Cullen and the Techno Viking. Alternatively, you can buy any of the heroes straight up too. To be fair, they are also unlockable through play; however, it looks like it will take quite a bit of play to unlock, as they cost a chunk of game currency plus eight magic gems. The problem that I can see is that you gain gems from the Battle Pass. For the free tier, the entire season pass rewards only six gems. So even if you played enough to fully complete the Battle Pass for one season, that still wouldn’t be enough to permanently unlock a single hero. Pretty weak.
The level of monetization CRSED has is not just bad; it borders on offensive, even to me, someone who regularly plays F2P games and doesn’t get turned off too much by the overt schemes. Here, though, it is absolutely chock-full to the point it’s leaking out the seams. The only system I don’t see represented here is NFTs, although I probably shouldn’t say that too loudly, judging by what’s at play here, because I wouldn’t put it past this game to add them in as well.
In addition to the battle pass, we also have direct cosmetics for purchase. You’ve got weapon cosmetics, graffiti, expressions, and yes, even underwear. And not just a few options for underwear – a hellacious number of styles! Someone really likes undies over there. The sad thing is a lot of them are really well made. There is also an item store for buying theme packs, mostly designed to add a new costume and weapon for one of the heroes, although it does also include the tried and true lockbox.
One of the worst schemes is that of the fancy weapons in the Battle Equipment sections. Here you set some default starting gear, it seems. The issue is with the weapons that don’t have a value on them. Admittedly they are under the “Unlock or purchase” header, but when I saw it, I initially thought they actually had a few neat choices for free. Wrong. Clicking on one takes you to the page to buy the bundle, which includes the items.
So what makes this BR special? I’m not entirely sure
I realize that was quite the long tirade against this poor game, but when the monetization is that egregious – and clearly a main focus of development – I just can’t avoid discussing it. Besides, the gameplay itself is so generic that the monetization and cosmetics are truly the parts that stand out the most about the game.
Regardless, let’s try discussing the gameplay. Let’s start with how CRSED is attempting to differentiate itself from other BRs because in all honesty it isn’t a full copy-paste job. Each hero does have a unique skill, and they are totally unique from one another. Granted, I had access to only two of them, but one gave me short teleport jumps and the other sort of Hulk-ed out my hero.
Next there are these ritual events that occur and players can begin, although how they work is a bit opaque. I could at least tell that when one of the rituals completes, everyone on the map seems to be affected. For instance, a fast run ritual increases everyone’s run speed. Aside from that, though, it just isn’t clear. It played and felt like an average BR, with small bits of flare.
Now, the game does offer four different game modes, although one of them is a practice mode, so that doesn’t really count in this case. Unlike the practice mode in more mainstream games like Valorant, the practice here just drops you in a field with all the gear available to you and some dummies in a field to shoot at.
There is no tutorial to be found, either. I suppose for a BR like this there isn’t that much to learn. You aim, you pick up stuff, and you shoot. Still though, I am always annoyed when there are different skills or features in the game that are completely obfuscated.
One big example is when I went to the Battle Equipment page and saw all these different things. Rituals, for example, are on display here. But there are also traps, spirit guardians, scrolls, a hex bag, and a few other options. When I saw these, my jaw dropped for a moment because what even is all this stuff? It wasn’t clarified at all in-game, and if the developers don’t care enough to provide players some real explanation in the game, then I tend to not care enough to find out.
Well, that’s CRSED for you. If you ever played Cuisine Royale, maybe you’ll be able to have a moment of nostalgia in checking it out. If not, I just don’t know. You know how eating frozen yogurt can be enjoyable, but you’d rather be eating full-on ice cream? I can’t say that I hated my time in this game as I rather enjoyed bits of it, likely the bits that reminded me other games. But unfortunately for CRSED, I’d rather have the ice cream.