Crimsonland Review

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There are a lot of Indie Games out there to be played.  Some are great.  Some aren’t so great.  The big thing about them is that they vary in genre.  On the Vita, you have RPGs like Rainbow Moon and Rhythm games like Kickbeat.  There are also side-scrollers, fighting games, and more.  The one thing about Indie games is that they add a lot of variety to your game library, if you give them a chance to shine.  Some aren’t great, but some are pretty good.

One genre that is interestingly-sparing on games for the Vita are twin-stick shooters.  These games, much like Super Stardust Delta, have a top-down view with your character taking out waves of enemies.  This is a very simple type of gameplay, but can be complex at the same time.  They are also generally only coming from Indie developers, nowadays.  The Vita does have some of them, though, and the list is growing.

One such game is a fairly recent game called Crimsonland.  This game used to be a PC game, but was brought over to the PlayStation Ecosystem, gunning its way onto the PS4 and the Vita.  Bringing in the top-down gameplay and support to Twin-Stick gameplay, is it a thrilling experience or a failing one?  It’s time for you to find out.  Here is our official review of the twin-stick shooter, Crimsonland!

Story

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Unlike other games of the genre, Crimsonland doesn’t have a story attached to it.  You could assume the story by the gameplay it shows, but there is no story attached to the game at all.  You are purely playing the game for the gameplay.

However, you will see various references to other shooting games as you play through Crimsonland.  While this doesn’t make the story, but there are a lot of references to the first-person-shooter game Doom in the game.  Even the cover art for Crimsonland is a clear reference to the cover art of the original Doom and has references in levels like “Knee Deep in the Dead” and more.

All in all, though, you won’t be playing this game for story.  You will be playing it for the gameplay.

Gameplay

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Crimsonland is a Twin-Stick Top-Down shooting game.  There are some other elements going on in the game as well.  There are some RPG elements to the game’s survival mode.  At the end of the day, though, Crimsonland is a top-down shooting game, and is a Twin-Stick shooter on the Vita, utilizing the two Analog Sticks for the majority of its gameplay systems.

The game features various game modes to choose from, though only one of those modes is unlocked from the get-go.  You have Quest Mode, which serves as the game’s main campaign.  This has you progressing through six chapters of stages to fight through hordes of monsters.  As you progress through each of the 60 stages of this made, you will unlock new difficulty settings, along with weapons and perks to be used in the other game modes.  It is highly suggested you go through this mode first and foremost.

The other game modes is Survival Mode.  While in most games, this would be a single mode, it is several modes in one.  Survival is set of modes that are unlocked by progressing through Quest Mode: Survival, Rush, Weapon Picker, Nukefism, and Blitz.  Each of these modes also offers multiplayer co-op options.  They’re each Survival Mode with a unique twist.  For example, Rush requires you only use an Assault Rifle and Nukefism requires you to use power-ups rather than weapons.

Actually playing the game sets you down in the middle of a map from what looks like a post-apocalyptic world.  The whole map is a huge square and you’re able to walk through each one.  The goal of each stage is to annihilate all of the enemies that spawn and run to attack you.  The enemies will spawn in various locations and will also spawn nests that endlessly spawn more monsters until you destroy the nest.

As you fight through enemies, they will drop items.  These items vary from different weapons to use to power-up that will help you protect yourself or fight off those enemies.  Weapons are an important part of the game as you can only carry one weapon at a time.  When you pick up a weapon dropped by an enemy, you will lose the weapon you had before.  This can be a good or bad thing.  On the good side, you could swap a handgun for a rocket launcher.  On the down side, you could accidentally go into a handgun and give up your minigun for it.

The biggest bit of strategy and challenge comes from figure out what you can do.  If there are nests in the levels, your top priority is taking them out.  If you don’t you will get overwhelmed by sheer numbers.  Being in a good place at a good time could have you knocking out the nests and only having 20 spiders on-screen.  Or, if you don’t go for the nests, those 20 can easily turn into 100 or more in less than a minute.  Knowing where to go and when it part of the skill, although each stage lasts a short 1-3 minutes.

There is also a certain amount of luck involved.  Weapon drops, in most stages, are random.  You can go into a stage and get a weapon drop at the beginning to get a handgun.  Or, you could start the same stage again and get a Plasma Rifle from the same enemy drop.  The game does require skill, but there is also a certain amount of luck involved.  You will also need that luck for the more intense difficulty settings.

In Quest Mode, this is relatively simple, yet it gets hard quickly.  Survival Mode is where the game gets more interesting, though.  When you go through waves of enemies in Survival, co-op or not, you will level up.  Every time you level, you will be able to use a Perk you unlock in Quest Mode.  They will come in sections of 3-4 for you to choose from.  Perks can be as simple as health regeneration or even being able to sacrifice part of your total health for higher defense against incoming attacks.    There are also Online Leaderboards for these modes for you to put your high scores in to try to beat the competition.

With each stage in Quest Mode taking 1-3 minutes to complete, Crimsonland should take you at least 3-5 hours to complete, not counting going further with the higher difficulties and the various Survival Modes.  It’s good for pick-up-and-play sessions when you’re on-the-move.

Controls

Controls for Crimsonland are very simple.  Since this is a twin-stick shooter, you will be using the two Analog Sticks for the majority of the game.  They will not be all you use, though.  There are some touch controls you can use and some of the other buttons will be regularly used as well.  But, the primary controls will be your two Analog Sticks.

Generally, you have four different controls: Moving, Aiming, Firing, and Pausing.  Moving is done with the Left Analog Stick.  You can use that to move around each stage.  Along with that, you can use the Right Analog Stick to point your aim in a specific direction.  Much of the game will consist of you doing both of these at the same time.  You can pause the game at any time if you need to look at where you need to go, which is done with the Start button.

Firing your weapon is where touch controls may come into play.  By default, you use the R trigger to fire your weapon.  However, you can also tap the touch screen.  When you do this, you will automatically fire in the direction of where you tapped is from the character’s position.

The control scheme is very simple to use and to learn.  You won’t be using many buttons, though it may take some getting used to for aiming with the Right Analog.

Presentation

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As far as visuals are concerned, don’t expect a huge 3D adventure.  The initial visuals of the game are set up in a 2D fashion.  The environments, character, and enemies are hand-drawn and 2D.  The models do look good on the Vita’s screen, though.  While the environments don’t have much variety, the models are done in a very crisp manner, not showing any blemishes or jagged edges.  The shining of the presentation comes from the 3D effects of the various power-ups and weapons, from the energy of the Ion Cannon to the explosion of the Nuke.

Apart from this, the game runs just fine.  The load times are very short, only taking a couple seconds to load each screen or even each stage.  It is to the point where it feels like it’s almost immediate between each one.  The game was definitely optimized well for the Vita.

The only downer part of the presentation is the audio.  The game has music on it, which mostly has soft metal or hard rock themes as you progress through each stage.  However, this is quite soft and you may not even be able to tell there is music in some stages.  There are also many stages that will wait until the stage gets to a certain point before you even start to hear the music.

Summary

Crimsonland is a top-down shooter that does well at implementing the formula for this genre.  On the downside, the game has no plot to speak of and only lasts a few hours in its main campaign.  However, behind it is a simple, yet challenging game that has a lot of shooting and a little bit of an RPG thrown into the mix that is great for gaming on-the-go. 

8/10

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