Review: Crimsonland delivers repetitive bloodshed
Platform: PlayStation 4, PC
While playing through Crimsonland, I couldn't help but think of James Silva's 2009 Xbox Live indie shooter I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MBIES 1N IT!!!1 (that's not a typo, that's the actual name), as Crimsonland works in a very similar format. The game is a top-down shooter and enemies come at you from all sides. You’re continually shooting them and have access to a number of power-ups, which are unlocked over the course of the game, and you must stay alive as long as you can. The basic similarities between the two titles are clear at first glance, and upon closer examination the two games actually have a lot in common.
However, developer 10tons has added some content to make Crimsonland stand apart and justify its $7.99 price tag on PS4. So if you're a fan of endless shoot-em-up action, and have a bit of patience for the game's repetitive nature, you could find something to enjoy here.
The Not-So-Hopeless Scenario
When you begin Crimsonland, right off the bat you'll notice your character's sluggish movement. At first it won't matter because the enemies you encounter are equally sluggish, although still determined to catch up to you for a quick snack. You'll shoot your foes by using the right analog stick to concentrate your fire and pulling the right trigger button to blast away.
You start with a paltry little rifle, but as you progress through the game's story mode, more interesting weapons pop up, including a flame thrower, a pulse rifle that destroys anything it hits, a rocket launcher and, my personal favorite, the double-barreled shotgun. It's important to make your shots count, mainly because it can take a little time to reload. And when you're surrounded, there's only so much scrambling that you can do to stay alive.
The later stages begin piling on even more bizarre enemies, including faster, larger zombies and spiders that grow to massive size – and shoot fire, to boot. It's here that the weapons you find prove their worth, and even some of the stranger ones, like the sniper rifle, can serve a purpose. It's just a shame that the game doesn't include some sort of default option to slot up your favorites right away, instead of relying on the luck of the draw. That could've really made a difference.
One other thing that's hard to look past with Crimsonland is its repetitive nature. Each stage is about the same, where you shoot, shoot, shoot and repeat. There are hardly any objectives to complete here, you just stay alive as long as you can. For some players, that may be enough. It's a good arcade style affair as a result, but it would've been ideal to include some sort of bonus goals to make levels worth revisiting.
Enter the modes
At least Crimsonland somewhat redeems itself with a handful of great modes that you can unlock over the course of the game. The highlight of the bunch is Survival, in which you face endless waves of enemies until, surprise, you drop dead. This is a huge draw, as it mixes up the kinds of baddies that come at you, giving you a new challenge around every corner.
The other modes, namely Nukefism and Blitz, offer some decent variations on the theme, but nothing that strays too far from "hey, let's shoot everything like crazy." Again, more diversity would've been great, and being able to take your favorite weapons with you would've made a huge difference.
You can also play with up to four friends in local co-op. With others joining you in this endless fight, it's great to have them on board, even as you fight over weapons in some of the stages. The only downside is that there's no support for online PlayStation Network sessions. It's a bummer, but it provides yet another excuse to have your buds over for a quick round or two…when you're not playing the awesome Towerfall: Ascension, that is.
A bit plain in presentation
Where Crimsonland really falls short is the presentation. While the basic top-down view is effective – and there's a ton of blood to be spilled – there really isn't anything here that screams "Next generation!" This is a PS4 game, after all, and it wouldn't have hurt to make the game look better, with even bloodier effects or more interesting weapon particle effects to choose from. The rock music is pretty plain too, and the sound effects offer little to no variety.
If you're looking for a game to showcase the power of your new system, sadly, this just isn't it.
Here are the criteria I consider most important for judging Crimsonland.
A decent top-down shooter with lots of options, but the repetitiveness sinks in way too quickly.
A lot of variety here, and it's fun to bring friends over and shoot right alongside them.
Pretty plain, with very few effects that take advantage of the PS4 format.
Generic rock music and lackluster sound effects do not a next-gen experience make.
Crimsonland delivers an adequate shoot-em-up performance for the PS4, with plenty of modes to choose from and a fun blastathon for you and your friends. However, it lacks in presentation and diversity, two areas that needed more depth in order for the game to stand out on the console. It's decent, but forgettable.
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