Crimsonland was originally released back in 2003 and despite not being overly popular, was well loved by those who played it. And now, more than ten years later it is once again hitting the metaphorical shelves and coming to steam and PS4. If you were lucky enough to play this one the first time around then I’m sure you already have this one in your wish list. If not, allow me to shed some light.
Crimsonland offers several ‘survival’ modes and a whole bunch of quests to play through. Quests are short challenges where you will need to kill all enemies without dying. Despite being so simple in their rules, quests vary a whole bunch due to the weapons you are given and the enemy types you need to defeat. Monsters vary from zombies to spiders, lizard-men to aliens but all want to eat your face equally as much. Enemy movements, speed and attack patterns are all different and have unique abilities such as the almost invisible aliens, pack-aliens that all die when their leader dies and those damn spiders that duplicate when killed.
Fortuntely you have a whole bunch of weapons at your disposal which are gradually unlocked as you proceed through the main quests. A lot of the time you start off with just the pistol and can collect new weapons dropped by enemies, but some quests give you additional firepower to begin with (normally the harder ones). There are around 30 weapons in the game and consist of almost everything you could imagine, including your usual assault rifles, shotguns and launchers, and the more interesting weapons such as flamethrowers, pulse of killer wind things and a canon that separates each shot when it connects with an enemy. They each have their own range, speed, ammo capacity, reload times, area of effect and aesthetics suitable for some situations more than others; even your favourite weapon has its weaknesses.
Power-ups and perks play a large part in your survival. Perks are – like weapons – unlocked through completing quests and grant you many different effects such as increased evasion of enemy attack, faster shooting, more power, and more experience points that in effect give you more perks. There are some very interesting perks that make your choice very difficult, like a 50/50 perk that either gives you a whole bunch of experience points, or just kills you outright. Power-ups are dropped by enemies and help you out for a few seconds, most of which spray bullets in specific patterns, give you an ultra-powerful weapon or slow/freeze time and even enemies, allowing you to shatter them with a few shots. However, because all of the enemies follow you and drop loot when they die, the extremely useful power-ups and weapons often get lost in a horde of monsters; you often need to make quick decisions on whether or not you think the risk is worth the reward.
After a short while (particularly on the survival modes) the battlefield will become coated in blood and littered with monster corpses; hence the title. Depending on how good you are at dodging and how quick you are at killing, your screen very slowly becomes more crowded until you have nowhere left to run and get swarmed by various species of monsters. It’s a great feeling to suddenly find yourself overwhelmed with various monsters, knowing you aren’t going to survive another ten seconds but trying regardless. The local co-op makes things even more interesting when you and three others fight back to back in the centre of a sea of beasts, desperately looking for an opening in which to flee through or a power-up to survive just a few seconds more.
Crimsonland is one of those very simple games that is very easy to pick up and play, but extremely difficult to master. Everyone who plays it will have their own idea of the best perks to pick, their favourite weapons and their own tactics in how to deal with certain enemies. Moment’s where you think you are done for and a nuke appears, killing all of the nearby enemies and thus saving the day make this game so thrilling and fast-paced. It’s a game that offers so much in such a small package and sure is a great way to spend a few hours trying to beat previous scores. I recommend it to all who like top-down shooters and fans of the arcade ‘high score’ based games. Or people who just like to see blood, lots of blood.