Crimsonland may not be the visual showcase that you’d expect for a PS4 game, but it more than makes up for that by being enjoyable.
What Is It?
For being a cult hit that is just over ten years old, the internet is surprisingly devoid of information on Crimsonland’s original PC release outside of this old blog that the developer ran to keep its fanbase up to date on the latest happenings with that game.
Finnish developer 10tons did a decent job of keeping the game moving along with updates and an eventual iPhone release as they worked on a sequel for nearly ten years, which went a bit faster once Steam’s Greenlight service came into being and offered a way for a game like this to get a much more prominent release.Add in a PS4 release and that is a brief history of how this version of Crimsonland arrived here, at least from the one source I could find on the internet.
Back to the Crimsonland that was just released on PS4 and PC, this is an arcade dual-stick shooter that features a bunch of guns and a ton of enemies to kill at any one time. It offers a quest mode with sixty challenge levels that you want to beat to unlock more weapons and perks for the survival mode along with two more levels of difficulty for those challenge levels.
Survival mode and its leaderboards are the real meat of this arcade game, which offers five flavors including
a basic survival, pacifism, and rapid weapon spawning modes to let you test your skills in a variety of ways to see how you stack up with the rest of the world.
Why Should I Care?
Crimsonland is a textbook example of how a game’s visual style can be detrimental to its ability to communicate with potential fans how fun it can be. The game features a top-down perspective of a tiny man that is usually running around on
a bland, grass or dirt-covered areas shooting enemies that are coming after him and it looks like it’s a sharper version of an old PC game.
As you kill your enemies, their blood, guts, and remaining body parts litter the ground to remind you why this game is called Crimsonland. It also doesn’t help that your character and the enemies are really small on the screen to make it hard for those with vision issues to keep track of what’s going on.
It’s clear that the developers weren’t going for a game that pushes hardware like a Super Stardust HD or Resogun that makes it clear in the presentation that it’s on a powerful console. That’s actually okay because the game more than makes up for it by being fun to play.
The quest mode introduces you slowly to the variety of weapons that ranges from the classics such as assault rifle, shotgun, and minigun to more elaborate versions of those weapons in ion, plasma, and gauss flavors that offer various pros and cons such as increased damage, while requiring you to be a more accurate shot.
The controls are very well done; you can certainly spray and pray with most weapons and do well, but some require you to have a more patience to get better accuracy when you need it. The one nice thing about the presentation is that above your cursor is an ammo counter that shows you how much more ammo you have in your clip, so you can just be a maniac and run out your clip every time or reload during brief down moments.
Adding to that are the power-ups that run the gamut from basics such as rapid fire and slowdown to some crazier items such as nukes, freezing enemies, and some bullet sprays that help clear out some space for you in times that you need it.
The enemies are another important piece of the puzzle to what makes Crimsonland enjoyable, as this game is all about spawning swarms of enemies to try to overwhelm you so your session ends sooner than you’d like. They accomplish that by having you slow down for a split second when you’re hit by an enemy — that is an opportunity for a nearby swarm to get the better of you for a quick kill.
That’s why you have to be a nimble shooter, constantly moving and trying to play around with the enemy AI to get them bunched up one way while you run the other way and thin the herd with your gun. It’s an especially satisfying combat experience in any of the survival modes due to the random enemy spawns that presents a new challenge each time you play.
The main survival mode is the best aspect of this whole game, as it’s not only a random enemy spawner that provides a unique challenge each time, but the XP and perk system provides an added layer of strategy that makes it hard to only play that mode once.
As you kill enemies, you earn XP that fills up an experience bar at the top of the screen and when you level up, the game pushes nearby enemies away and pauses. You’re then presented with four potential perks and you can choose one to help you last longer to get a better score. These perks are unlocked by playing through the quest mode and include simple XP modifiers to crazier perks like exchanging one-third of your health for taking one-third less damage or exchanging 99% of your health for the ability to pick three perks immediately.
Good offerings of perks in one session can lead to some awesome moments where you’re regenerating health slowly while nearby power-ups are pulled towards you to help you take on huge swarms of spiders, lizardmen, and zombies as you get a bit full of yourself to lead to an early demise when you take unnecessary risks. It’s a great mode that offers many possibilities, while making it easy enough to die because of your own dumb mistakes that you have to give it one more try to make up for it.
What Makes It Worth My Time And Money?
With the onslaught of dual-stick shooters on the last generation of consoles, it’s surprising that it has taken until now for this generation to get its first great shooter, but Crimsonland can take pride in being the premiere dual-stick shooter on the PS4. The awesome combat strategies that surface in this game in relation to the weapon spawns, perks, and potentially overwhelming swarms of enemies that you must conquer makes this game better than it looks at first glance.
It really deserves to be played before you can judge it, so check out the demo to see it for yourselves. There is co-op in this game for up to four total players, which I have not had the opportunity to try out even though everything I’ve seen should work well with at least another person to help you thin out the crowd.
It’s a little pricey at $13.99, but if you act quickly, it’s $7.19 for PlayStation Plus members for the PS4 for the next few days. That’s a crazy launch discount that is well worth it for the amount of fun that this game has to offer. Crimsonland is also out on Steam for a similar full price, though it launch a few weeks earlier so any launch discounts that it had ended a while ago.