The player may send one of three different mutanoids, each with different statistics, into a dungeon in order to ultimately reach the boss. Each dungeon has a varying number of levels, each of which can be attained by finding and using the transporter. A key card must also be located sometimes in order to get the transporter to function. Along the way, however, are many enemies to hinder the player's progress. While fighting (or even just moving around), the mutanoid's heat level will continuously rise, until it reaches its limit. At this point, a meltdown will occur, causing the character to enter a berserk-like state. The player may continue to battle like this, but if no Cooling item is used within the time limit, the meltdown will deplete health severely.
The game is set in Tokyo in the year 2049 and revolves around three characters whose home has been destroyed. As seen on the game's front cover, this trio seems human; however, they are actually bio-engineered weapons developed by a company named A.R.M.A. called "mutanoids".
- Dr. Kosugi - One of A.R.M.A.'s scientists, Dr. Kosugi created Amber, Kadie and Tokio, and the trio see him almost as a father. Since the recent riots in the streets, the doctor has gone missing and it's up to the main characters to locate him.
- Abel - Abel is a fellow humanoid bioweapon, also created by Dr. Kosugi. He too has gone missing, but this dangerous individual is more than capable of taking care of himself, even in the monster-infested dungeons. It's hard to tell at any point just what he's thinking, or whose side he's on.
- Eden - While the trio have Lana, Abel has Eden to act as his telepath and confidant. A mysterious humanoid unknown by the main characters, Eden's creation is somehow different from their own.
- Vixor - The final boss of Crimson Tears, Vixor is also the head of A.R.M.A., and he's a manipulator on a grand scale. He's the puppeteer lying behind many of the events that transpire throughout the game. He's always calm and in charge despite the chaos outside his high vantage point in the A.R.M.A. corporation. Although he likes to sit on the sidelines and watch things fall into place, he will step in if he feels things require a more personal touch.
- By meeting certain conditions in the game, players can unlock character skins for the protagonists and assume the guises of Morrigan, Lilith, Ryu, Chun-Li, Guile and Sakura.
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- Official site (Japanese) (archive)