Crimsonland is a top down shooter originally released in 2003 for the PC. It’s been recently revamped and rereleased for the Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Playstation Vita, and even mobile platforms. It offers local multiplayer, RPG elements, and overall, a relatively enjoyable experience. You’re tasked with managing hordes of spawning creatures with the express purpose of ending your life. Not keeping a careful eye on where foes pop up can get you cornered or surrounded, and eventually dead. There’s a vast library of weapons that are randomly dropped into the levels to help you mow down creatures with varying degrees of success. When playing with others, you also receive the ability to use perks, which are game modifiers that provide small advantages needed to win.
I played the Playstation 3 version and I must that, that if given the option, I would have moved over to the PC with no hesitation. This game just isn’t well optimized for a controller. It works, but it causes serious hand cramping. You move your player with the left stick, aim with the right and you shoot with R2. Flicking the right stick usually results in your character completely turning around, instead of aiming in the intended direction. So to get the most accurate aiming, as well as to perform any sweeping maneuvers with your guns, you’ll need to push on the right stick. Constantly. This isn’t too bad for the first half hour, but it wears on your hand quickly.
"Crimsonland is very single minded in its execution. However, considering the low price point, it’s not a bad way to kill an afternoon, or to decompress after a stressful day at work."
Despite awkward controls, Crimsonland still manages to be a fun game. The difficulty curve is fairly balanced, and the game mechanics are simple enough to learn within one or two rounds. While the single player quest mode is adequate, the game definitely shines when being played with friends. Local multiplayer drop-in works easily by pressing the right trigger on the second controller. After a certain point in the quest mode, it almost becomes a necessity to have another player help thin the monster herds. When one gamer dies though, there is no respawning. You’re done for that round, and are only able to give words of encouragement until the other player finishes the level, or dies trying.
The way the levels are constructed, and how Game Overs are handled, also make it easy to continue playing. There are rarely any pauses. When you pass the level, each never being much longer than five or so minutes, it briskly marches you on to the next, only showing you a few clear screens beforehand. When you die, you get a simple game over screen, which allows you to quickly jump right back into the action. Death never really ends up feeling all that discouraging. It’s also not a terribly long game. The Quest Mode serves as preparation for the other challenge modes, such as Survival.
Crimsonland is very single minded in its execution. As a result, it’s in danger of being the kind of game you pick up, play for a while, and never think of again. Unless you’re hooked on the gameplay and aim to climb the scoreboards, there’s really not much else to it, although it’s quite cathartic to take out waves of monsters that explode in gruesome ways. There’s something very satisfying about taking a screen loaded with creatures and reducing it to a red smear. But outside of that, it does little beyond its simple premise. However, considering the low price point, it’s not a bad way to kill an afternoon, or to decompress after a stressful day at work.
Review by: Erin Conley | Reviewed on: Playstation 3