By Tyler Trosper / November 28th, 2016
|Release Date||January 21st, 2016|
|Genre||Action, Adventure, Crafting|
|Platform||Steam, Android, iOS|
In games like Terraria and Minecraft, story is almost nonexistent. Sure, Minecraft does have a story-driven spinoff by Telltale Games, but the focus of the main game is all about the world and creating things within it. Crashlands tries to be different than the usual crafting game by giving the player a story to follow.
In Crashlands, you play the role of Flux Dabes, a delivery truck driver who roams the galaxy. With her is her trusted robot assistant, Juicebox. The two are on a normal delivery when they are pulled into the planet Woanope by the evil Hewgodooko. They end up crashing and destroying their ship, thus the name Crashlands. It’s now Flux’s job to build various items and equipment in order to signal for help and defeat Hewgodooko.
The saving grace behind the plot of Crashlands is the chemistry behind Flux and Juicebox. The two bounce off each other very well, mostly by telling terrible puns. While Flux complains about having to save the world instead of just doing her job, Juicebox is there to steer her in the right direction. Otherwise, the plot is one fetch quest after another. When you complete your fifth fetch quest and still haven’t finished your main objective, it just feels like the developers are stretching out the game as much as possible.
The dialogue in general is usually very witty and goofy, with visuals to match. The humor and the character designs go hand-in-hand, almost like a cartoon. Each biome you visit in the game is littered with monsters, though most are just palette swaps or size differences. But these creatures follow the same aesthetic, making you feel bad for killing some of the cuter looking creatures.
Speaking of the combat, tread lightly in the world of Woanope, because everything pretty much wants to kill you. Weak and strong monsters frolic together, making it difficult to attack an enemy without a large enemy that can one-hit kill you barging in. There is no leveling up in Crashlands, so in order to get stronger, strategy and crafting weapons and armor is key. But fear not! If you die, you will go back to wherever on the map you have designated as your home base. You’ll lose what items you’ve collected, but if you go back to the place of your death, you can pick them right back up. Death is more of a small annoyance than anything that will impact your game.
Combat consists of clicking on an enemy and attacking until you kill it or they kill you. There are special weapons, such as bombs or throwing a wrench to stun the enemy, and they require cooldowns to be used again. Healing items also have a cooldown time, so it’s good to have multiple healing items equipped to your hot keys or at least keep your distance from your opponent until you can use the items again. Also, if you play your cards right, you can find monster eggs and have your own pets to help you in battles. The combat is simple, but satisfying, especially if you finally defeat an enemy that’s murdered you multiple times.
However, the focus on this game is crafting and Crashlands handles that well. Before you craft anything, you need a recipe. The important recipes will pop up during the story or via sidequests, but there are a lot that you receive randomly by exploring the world and cutting down trees, shrubs, or anything else you come across. Once you have a recipe, you can build items as long as you have materials. Materials can be found from either killing enemies, destroying trees, breaking through rocks, or even fishing. If you are searching for ingredients on a specific recipe, Crashlands allows you to pin a recipe at the top right of your screen to keep track of how many ingredients you have left until you can create your item.
Once you have everything ready, you can finally create your item. Every item requires a specific way to be made, such as a kiln. It’s sometimes frustrating when you want to make an item, you have all of the ingredients, but you still need to create the mechanism in order to make it, but that was only a frustration that popped up a few times. More annoying is the fact that each item has a certain amount of time to pass in order to be created. For example, you might have to wait 15 seconds or even a minute in order to get that sweet new armor. Sure, you can go explore or do something in the meantime, but when it’s 10 to 20 seconds and you really need that item, you might as well just wait. I played the Steam version of the game, so I feel this mechanic might work better for mobile users, but even then most mobile games want you to pay in order to cut down on time like that. From there, you can place the items you create anywhere in the world. Want to make your home base into a fortress? You can do that with a few clicks.
The world in Crashlands is randomly generated, meaning if you are having trouble finding a place, looking online probably won’t help you. You do get a trusty map that generates as you play, even giving you the option for it to redraw itself to be more accurate. You set checkpoints and even specify where you want your base of operations to be. It’s not pretty by any means, but it gets the job done. However, if you aren’t playing with a mouse, I highly recommend going into the settings before you start the game and turn on the zoom function for the map. For the most part the game circles major locations on the map for you, but there was one part where I could not find where to travel to next without zooming out, and I didn’t know that was even an option until 10 hours into the game.
The average playtime might take 35 or so hours, but expect to more than double that if you do every sidequest and build everything. Speaking of sidequests, the log organizing them is a bit of a mess. Both main quests and sidequests share the same section with nothing indicating which one is which. Also, quest details are actually the last 10 or so lines of dialogue you had with the NPC that gave you the quest. If you can’t catch all the specifics you need from that dialogue, your journey might be a bit rough. Furthermore, with recipes, they state what mechanism you need to create the item when you first get them, but if you miss the notification, there’s not really a way to find out what device you need to create it until you get back to your base. A book of recipes would have been a nice feature while away from your base so you can choose recipes on the fly to follow.
The sound of Crashlands fits the overall style well. Most tracks are kind of calm and tranquil, though not enough to keep you calm after dying the billionth time. The game does not feature any voice acting, but characters usually make some kind of odd grunt, giggle, and so on. They’re humorous, especially with some of the strange sounds the alien inhabitants make.
Overall, Crashlands is a neat game that tries to break the mold of your typical crafting game by having a story. Granted, the story feels like nothing more than fetch quest after fetch quest, but the quirky dialogue alleviates that a little bit. The combat is fun and strategic, and crafting is very deep. Cooldowns for crafting is a bit of a bummer, but I suppose you can’t instantly create something in real life without time and patience. Be sure to bring both if you plan on playing Crashlands. You can grab the game on Steam for $14.99 or on iOS and Android for $4.99.
Review copy provided by the developer.