By Michael Fontanini / January 2nd, 2018
|Publisher||Shoot ’em up|
|Release Date||November 24th, 2017|
|Genre||Arcade, Multiplayer, Role Playing|
|Age Rating||T for Teen|
Crimsonland is a 2D arcade, top-down, twin-stick shooter. Each battle sees you alone and surrounded by ever increasing numbers of monsters (from giant insects to zombies), and there is nowhere to run and hide! You can even have a few friends fight alongside you if you have more controllers, and feel the need for some reinforcements on a tough level! Will you be able to survive the alien onslaught using the available weapons and live to fight another day?
Crimsonland has two main styles of gameplay. There is Quest Mode, which gives you 60 quests to play through on three difficulty levels (so 180 quests in total). In each difficulty, they are divided into six chapters with 10 missions in each. You must survive and defeat all enemies on a level to finish the mission! This is the main game mode, where you’ll also unlock weapons and perks as you progress. It doesn’t really have any story to go along with the missions, as it’s just you killing everything that moves. There are also five endless survival modes, each with their own local high scores table that’s pre-populated. Good luck reaching the top, as some of those scores set the bar quite high. Friends can fight beside you in survival mode, too. Crimsonland does not support online play, though.
As you battle your foes in Quest mode, you earn XP. This XP gets you new perk choices as you progress through the mission. Each time you level up, you are presented with a random selection of three or more perks to choose from. The effects of perks vary greatly, from increased bullet speed or damage, to health regen, slowing monsters, giving you more perk choices on each level up, and many more. Your level and perks are reset for every mission, so you start each one with no level-ups and no perks. At the start of the game, very few weapons are unlocked, but half of the perks are available. Each weapon has four stats: accuracy, damage, fire rate, and reload time.
During each mission, power-ups will periodically drop where you kill an enemy. They include one-time bullet-storms like the one shown above (in multiple flavors), as well as movement speed boosts, med kits, temporary flaming bullets, etc. Random guns will also drop, and can be any of the ones that you have unlocked so far. Stepping on a gun switches you to that weapon, but you can only carry one at a time. You start each level with only a pistol, so you’ll want to get a better weapon asap!
Each time you finish a mission on normal difficulty, you will unlock a new perk, or a new weapon. The last two weapons are locked behind Hardcore and Grim difficulty modes respectively. The final perk is locked behind a hidden mini-game on the Credits screen, called Gembine. We’ll get to that in a minute though. You can view unlocked weapons/perks in the Extras menu. It also has an achievements screen, which also provides access to an overall stats screen that shows your total playtime in the game, average lifespan, total hits taken and inflicted across all battles, and more. It even includes some stats for the hidden mini-game.
Crimsonland has a wide array of weapons that slowly open up to you as you progress in Quest Mode. This also makes them available in the survival modes, and the same goes for the perks. They include flamethrowers, Gatling guns, rail-guns, rocket launchers, mini-guns, and many more (plus variations on some of them, like the seeker rockets or the gauss mini-gun)! If you think some of them might make the game too easy, they really don’t. Some levels will swarm you with massive numbers of enemies and require you to keep moving and shooting if you want to stay alive, even with some of the better guns!
When an enemy catches up to you, it can slow you down with its attacks. When a bunch of enemies attack you together, you will be a dead man very fast! So you have to keep moving to avoid getting surrounded at all costs. There is also a bit of strategy to the game. Do I run through these enemies for that power-up or gun, or is it too dangerous to attempt? Do I pick up that gun that just dropped, or stick with the one I have? Which enemies should I focus my fire on right now? Some are harder to kill, and some can fire projectiles of their own! Some split into additional smaller enemies several times as you keep firing at them.
The controls are very simple and work pretty well, making the game very easy to pick up and dive into. Use the left stick to walk around, and the right stick to aim. Depending on your current weapon, press or hold the ZR button to blast your foes to bits, and the R button to reload. You actually don’t ever have to use the R button, as he will reload automatically when he runs out of ammo. Of course, being able to do it manually is helpful and adds another small bit of strategy to the game. The strategy elements may be light overall, but they definitely add some depth to the battles. Add to that the random nature of weapon and power-up drops, and every play of a mission or survival mode is different.
When you complete a mission or a run in one of the survival modes, the game will show you a number of stats. In Quest Mode, it will show you some extra stats, like kills per minute, shots fired, and steps taken. The Quest Mode also adds an extra challenge objective for each mission. Beating the mission marks it with a black star on the level select screen. If you can beat the level with max health, you’ll get a yellow star for that level, which is basically a per-level achievement called “Not a Scratch”. You can take damage in a battle and still get this achievement, as long as you are at max health when you finish the level. It will still be pretty hard on some levels, though.
Whether you live or die is not just dependent on your own actions, but also on what perks or weapons drop during each game. Getting a bad weapon, or one you’re just not good with could be the death of you! For example, one of the flamethrower weapons has a very short range. There does happen to be a perk that can increase the range of flamethrower weapons, but you can’t count on getting it in any given game since drops are random. That perk is awesome if you have the better flamethrower to begin with.
Overall, Crimsonland may look like a simplistic game, and it is. However, the gameplay is fun and has a good amount of depth from the light strategy elements. The random weapon drops and perk selections add to that as well. Some levels create odd difficulty spikes compared to previous ones, like a level that swarms the screen with insane amounts of enemies. This can overwhelm the player very easily if he has an unfavorable weapon, or just messes up and gets surrounded. So it can be annoying at times. The difficulty ramps up a good bit in Hardcore mode. As for Grim difficulty, I don’t have it unlocked yet. However, based on Hardcore mode, I can safely say it will provide quite a challenge. The gameplay of the hidden minigame is also a fun little diversion.
Gembine is an addictive minigame, but it is home to a tough challenge. You must beat the high score in Gembine to unlock the last perk in the game. I can tell you it’s no easy feat to do, but I did it after many tries. It’s a very simple game. Use the left stick to move the gems and combine gems of the same type to form a new one. For example, in the image above, press left and all gems in the top two rows will move left one space since they are able to. Press down, and the two small circle gems on the lower left will combine, as the top one moves down one space. If the board fills up and no more moves are left, you lose. You must keep combining gems long enough to get a bit past the high score if you want that last perk.
Crimsonland‘s sound effects are pretty good and get the job done, and the music track is DOOM-style rock music that plays on the menu screens. While you’re battling countless foes, and often running around desperately trying to stay alive, there is no music. In battle, there is only the sounds of your enemies, weapons fire, and maybe your death moan. This really isn’t a bad thing at all, though. The frantic action doesn’t really need it. You’re too focused to pay attention to music if it was there anyway!
Overall, Crimsonland is a fun game that will keep you busy for a long while. It’s honestly more fun than you might think just by its looks. I’ve been enjoying my time with the game, though it can be annoying on occasion. You can blow through the 60 missions in normal mode in a few hours, but the two higher difficulty levels will take longer for sure. There’s also the extra “Not a Scratch” objective to go for on each mission. Then there are the five different endless survival modes (Classic Survival, Rush, Weapon Picker, Nukefism, and Blitz). The last four change up the rules in various ways, like forcing you to survive as long as you can with no weapons by only using power-up items. It took me around three hours of gameplay in Quest Mode to finish normal difficulty, plus about another half hour so far on hardcore difficulty. I also logged an hour in the Gembine minigame. So I’ve logged about five hours total, and there’s still plenty of quests to do in the higher difficulty modes, and lots of “Not a Scratch” stars left to get. So there’s plenty to do beyond just beating Quest Mode on normal difficulty. You can grab the game on the Nintendo Switch eShop for $13.99. Crimsonland is a pretty fun little game, with plenty of frantic action. Do you have what it takes to defeat the hordes of aliens to survive and save the day in Crimsonland?
Review copy provided by publisher.
10Tons10tons Ltd.Crimsonlandnintendo switch