Cross of the Dutchman

Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
Cross of the Dutchman Game Poster Image
Brief brawler with historic, cultural twist, mild violence.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Fighting against oppression, standing up for what's right, coming to the aid of others in need.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Pier Gerlofs Donia is a historic Dutch folk hero who inspired, led a rebellion against the Black Band, Saxon mercenaries who laid waste to the countryside, threatened its people.

Ease of Play

Though point-and-click controls are pretty straightforward, combat feels clunky, cumbersome.

Violence

Combat is a big part of the game, with Pier, his followers fighting Saxon troops with fists, swords. There's some blood, but the animated style reduces overall impact.

Sex
Language

Minor language (particularly "hell") occasionally.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Cross of the Dutchman is a downloadable action-adventure game based on the Dutch folk hero Pier Gerlofs Donia, though it's portrayed in an exaggerated video-game style. The game even breaks the fourth wall, mentioning Life and Stamina bars to Piers, much to his confusion. The tale shows his initial rise from a simple farmer to the leader of a rebellion against Saxon invaders. A focus of the game is Pier's confrontations with Saxon soldiers, usually resulting in fights with either his fists or, later in the game, a sword. There's a flash of some blood shown when characters are hit, but it fades quickly. Also, the animated look of the game reduces the impact of the violence.

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What's it about?

CROSS OF THE DUTCHMAN is the story of Dutch folk hero Pier Gerlofs Donia, who rose up from being a burly farmer to the iconic leader of a Dutch rebellion against Saxon invaders. As Pier, players must take a stand against the mercenaries, inspiring others to take up his cause and join in his quest to free his fellow countrymen and protect what's most important. There's plenty of beat-'em-up action with an interesting historic twist and more than a few fun jokes tossed in for good measure.

Is it any good?

The larger-than-life tale of Pier Gerlofs Donia is almost tailor-made for a video game. The Dutch folk hero supposedly stood more than seven feet tall and would swing a blade with one hand that most men couldn't lift with two. But most people outside the Netherlands likely have never heard his story. Cross of the Dutchman uses this to great advantage, taking more than a few lighthearted liberties with history. It's good for a few laughs when characters explain to Pier (and the player) things such as Life and Stamina bars, breaking the fourth wall to the player but leaving Pier confused. Lots of other tongue-in-cheek moments make for fun entertainment but don't exactly support the historic accuracy of the story.

There's a lot of running around, getting from quest to quest, with little to do in between. When you do finally run into some action, the combat feels somewhat off. Clicking on enemies is about all you can do to control Pier's fighting. Lots of times, even though you're clicking on an enemy, Pier swings wildly and completely misses your target. Despite this frustration, Cross of the Dutchman is still generally fun, but unfortunately it's also a relatively short experience. This wouldn't necessarily be much of an issue if not for the fact that the game takes a while to really build any sort of momentum. As a result, by the time you really start to get invested in the story and the characters, it's all but finished.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about historic figures. What are the reasons and traits that cause some historic figures to rise up to folk hero status?

  • What sort of motivation would it take to cause a person to stand up for those unable to do so for themselves?

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