In modern gaming there seems to be a divide in what is expected from games today. On one side you have the Hollywood-esque tours de force of exposition and plot that defenders of the gaming past time oft quote as the reason gaming is not just for children, but should be treated as a mature, ageless medium of its own. You then have the middle of the road games that try to find a balance between engaging story and tactile game mechanics which make up the majority of games on the market today. Then you have games that don’t care about character development or emotional engagement, focusing solely on pure, refined, unadulterated mechanics to draw a crowd.
Crimsonland without a doubt falls into the latter camp. The plot consists of “survive increasingly difficult waves of enemies until you can reach the next wave of difficult enemies”. That’s it. There is no character arc, no redemption or soul searching, just Guns, enemies and blood.
Those of you close to my age (or older) may remember the old classic, Smash TV, and Crimsonland hits a lot of the same notes, but on a much larger scale.
Graphically, you can tell that this started its life as a 2003 indie pc title from the team over at 10tons Entertainment. Simple and small, it does therefore allow for most of the fighting area to be visible at one time. This is in itself crucial when it comes to the multiplayer.
A recurring theme from my last few reviews, Crimsonland doesn’t have an online multiplayer, so gathering up to three of your closest gaming buddies for some couch co-op is the only way to play. This in no way dimishes the game as the most fun I had was when playing with several players. That said, unlike previous titles I reviewed, there is enough game here to roll solo if you so wish.
Like most twin stick shooters the targeting can be a little fiddly to get to grips with at first, not made any easier by the size of the sprites, but once you get the hang of it you will soon be decimating enemies with consummate ease.
Each of the 60 story levels see you dropped in toting a starting pistol with waves of enemies spawning in increasing numbers or difficulty levels. As you progress and dispose of enemies, new weapon types and boosts appear to make progression easier. There is a wide range of weapons available to unlock as you progress and you will soon find ones that suit your play style. This variation extends to the boosts as well, with a wide range of specials that provide temporary boosts and extra damage to ease the passage of each round. Add to this the three difficulty levels, and you get a lot of bang for your buck.
Other than the main campaign, there are 5 other modes to absorb your time, each based on ever increasing hordes of enemies. These are also where the perks you have been unlocking in the main campaign start to play a part. Basic Survival sees you equipped with your trusty pistol and ever increasing waves of enemies. Rush has you attempt to survive an alien onslaught while limited to a trusty assault rifle. Weapon picker slaps you down with limited ammo, but more weapon spawns at random locations. Nukefism does away with ammo altogether and has you running around making good use of the powerups that appear far more often and finally Blitz is a fast pace survival where you can only use the weapons and perks unlocked in the campaign. As you progress your experience will rack up and you will level up. At each level up point you gain the ability to select a perk to improve your chances of surviving further.
This is where the perk system truly shines. Each conveys its own weighted benefits such as Thick Skinned which reduces your overall health but decreases damage taken, or Ammunition Within which allows you to keep firing while reloading but each shot diminishes your health.
Although it lacks the finesse or graphical excellence of some other games I really enjoyed my time with Crimsonland. If you have a close group that play together, this is a brilliant game for playing with friends.
Thanks to Xbox and 10Tons Ltd for supporting TiX
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