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Review

Crimsonland (Switch eShop) Review

by December 2, 2017

I love the Switch and pretty much play it all the time in handheld mode, so my first complaint about Crimsonland comes from a position of the way the console works and feels to me. There’s something about my hand muscles that just couldn’t deal with the game’s controls for very long. While they are very simple, comprised of move, aim and shoot, I found that using my right hand for the latter two resulted in cramping after a few levels. Using LZ instead of RZ to shoot was a little bit better, but given that the game is pretty much a twin-stick shooter anyway, I’m not sure why shooting wasn’t just assigned to the right thumb-stick.

Anyway, physical incompatibilities aside, Crimsonland is the kind of game you might get sent by your decent coder friend who has made something verging on commercially viable. You’re plonked down in a low-res, grassy (and quite boring) environment with waves of enemies zooming in on your position. To help you deal with them, you get random weapons from their blood-dripping remains, which usually increase in effectiveness across the level’s time, which can vary from one to several minutes. You start each level from scratch, so there’s something of a Rogue-like progression system at play, with each completed level broadening your unlocked collection of weapons and perks.

Perks are the central hook of the game, and while they’re all quite interesting and their random nature brings an element of risk, luck and reward into the game, they aren’t incorporated into Crimsonland in a way that I would call fun. Every few seconds, the game gets interrupted and you’re presented with a list of perks, which can range from faster reloading, poison and magnetic powerups, through to more interesting gambles that strip you down to hardly any health but power you up immensely. While these perks add flavour to the game, their interruptive nature had me simply pressing the first option that appeared after a few levels. I suppose you could memorise each little graphic symbol, but to be honest this isn’t the type of game that you’ll probably spend very long with. It’s fun for a few minutes and then extremely repetitive.

Also affecting the pace is your firing rate and reload time. I would have done away with reloads altogether as they offer nothing but frustration, especially during the early period of each level, when you’re going through the motions to unlock something decent. The shotgun is quite fun but my favourite is the gun that shoots a line through several enemies at once – lining up a whole bunch and killing them all at once is quite satisfying.

And that’s all there is to Crimsonland. The levels are bare, the enemies not very interesting, the guns are okay but you never know what you’re going to get and working to unlock them is a bit of a chore. The perks are interesting but they get old fast and because each level only lasts a few minutes you tend to feel like they don’t really have much impact anyway. The powerups that appear are slightly more useful, usually helping to clear the gathered crowd, but I found myself frustrated when they disappeared after a little while as I was hoping to save them for later, when most of the enemies had spawned.

As a short time-waster, Crimsonland is perfectly fine, but don’t go into it expecting anything too deep. The option for four local players might suit you and the game might be fun with more people, but probably not. Wait for this one to go on sale.

Rating: 2 / 5

The Good

- Its simplicity works in its favour
- Some of the guns are satisfying
- Short, sharp levels

The Bad

- Control issues that should have been ironed out
- No real depth
- Feels and looks very basic

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Final Thoughts

As a short time-waster, Crimsonland is perfectly fine, but don’t go into it expecting anything too deep. The option for four local players might suit you and the game might be fun with more people, but probably not. Wait for this one to go on sale.

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About The Author
Dylan Burns

Artist. Fiction writer. Primary teacher.

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