[REVIEW] Crimsonland (Switch)

Bloody decent.

Twin-stick enthusiast developer 10tons Ltd. has brought their 2014 remake of the 2003 title to the Nintendo Switch. The artwork for Crimsonland pays tribute to the iconic first-person shooter DOOM, which is slightly odd being that the game actually bares little resemblance to it aside from having “monsters to shoot”. Crimsonland creates fun twin-stick action with its vast arsenal of guns and a perk system that’s satisfying. However, unlike DOOM, it doesn’t revolutionize the genre that it’s in, partly due to its bland and repetitive level design.

Unlike the cool ability pickups, the levels never spiral out of control.

Anyone willing to paint the land a whole ‘lotta red can do so alone or with up to 4 players on the same console. Whether in Survival mode or Quest mode, anyone can jump right in even during the heat of a firefight. Initially, only Normal difficulty is available, but two more are available to unlock as you complete Quest; 60 levels of eliminating hordes of zombies & critters spread across 6 chapters. Although the term “quest” sounds interesting, there’s nothing epic of that nature to be found. There is no story, dialogue or even mission briefing. Your only goal is to survive an onslaught of enemies on a per level basis. The only problem there is they aren’t remotely interesting in design; they’re empty and flat. New enemy introductions and spawn locations will certainly test your skills, but it’s the 30 weapons and 55 perks that continue to unlock as you play which serves as the main attraction keep playing.

Healthy dose of gunning.

Only two things will save you in this game: shooting and reloading. Oh, and a bunch of upgrades. Upon starting every level, players only have a pistol equipped where you’ll be quick to die as enemies spawn if you don’t find yourself a new gun to replace your pistol. Shooting your first enemy down will drop a random gun so it’s best to shoot first and just forget asking question. Availability of possible gun drops are the ones you’ve unlocked as well as one new gun that gets introduced for that level. The different gun types are all interesting and become variations of themselves. For instance, you will come across a shotgun and a plasma rifle. Eventually you’ll unlock a plasma shotgun fusing the abilities of both. All guns come with their own rate of fire, clip size & spread. You won’t have to worry about running out of ammo as you have unlimited, but reloading is something you should look out for as some guns are much slower than others. There is no switching between weapons and you simply don’t have to pick up a new one if you like the one you have.

10tons always delivers on its upgrade mechanics.

There are two progress bars at the top of the screen. The red bar displays the progress of the stage, which fills showing how many enemies you have cleared. The blue bar also fills as enemies are eliminated, but depicts how close you are until being rewarded with choosing 1 of 4 randomly chosen perks. Before a selection of perks is presented to you, a wave expels from the player gently pushing away the enemies around him creating a little breathing room to run around after you made your choice. The blue bar resets allowing you to choose multiple perks within 1 stage. As with guns, new perks unlock as you play through Quest and are made available in the perks to choose. Perks chosen remain permanent for the entirety of that stage only and reset once starting a new level.

The power-ups that continue to drop in stages are helpful in defeating multiple enemy nests or giving you a shield.

The power-ups that drop from defeating enemies (or randomly with the right perk) definitely help. Unlike guns & perks, power-ups are temporary as they have a timer which depletes after a short amount. When you’re running low on health, it might be worth picking up a power-up which momentarily grants you a shield. I find that speed boosts are most beneficial at start since some enemies will inevitably catch up to you if you don’t do something about it, although it will run out; a good idea to choose the speed perk if offered since it remains active for the entire stage. Other power-ups can turn enemies into ice freezing them in place while another power-up causes an electrical chain reaction on enemies upon pick-up. One can even slow down time. Whether it’s a power-up or gun, placing your cross-hair on them will give you the name of it just so you know what you’re picking up.

A lot of the perk descriptions have a bit of humor to them which at least doesn’t make them entirely boring to read.

Enemy variety range from the living dead to spiders that shoot projectiles to giant spiders that multiply. Creeping lizard mutants will spawn weaker forms unless they’re taken out. Same for nests. You’ll come across stages where the source of enemies come from nests that often spawn in great numbers. Reacting quick to destroy them will reduce your chances of greater enemy numbers surrounding you. Enemy projectiles even damage other enemies so sometimes that can be a useful tactic to keep in mind. Your bullets are best, though.

Fun to make a bloody mess.

You earn a score based on shooting accuracy, time and total points accumulated after completing a level. For those who want to run & gun without worry, they can. Purists will love to get the best score, however, as there are global and friend leaderboards. You can unlock more Survival modes for a total of 5: Survival, Rush, Blitz, Weapon Picker and Nukefism. This will be a decent addition for those playing with friends seeing how long they can last in “zombies” type modes. It’s probably a nice idea to get additional help trying to get those 21 achievements.

Crimsonland is has a rewarding perk system and fun guns to use on a level-to-level basis. People who care about obtaining the best scores will find more value here than most. Still, its repetitious level design and bland presentation make it a duller experience. Why not add structures to the levels such as walls and maybe some vegetation? Broken down 2-story buildings would be nice. Weapons and Perks are the highlights. If only the rest matched up.
The Stellar
  • Weapons and Perks are addicting.
  • Co-op and leaderboards. Extra survival modes.
The Lesser
  • Repetitious flat & empty level design.
  • Not a looker.
  • 60 levels, but they don't stand out.
Gameplay - 6.5
Visual - 5
Audio - 6
Value - 6.5

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