Crimzon Clover World Ignition PC Review

The word bullet hell brings some fantastic visions to my mind. I see small ships, enemies flying in front of me and neon bullets travelling across the screen, until all I can see are bright colours and a mess of bullets and lasers to the point I don’t even know what the heck is going on. Bullet hell games don’t always have to be that intense, but the ones that are often get people to go “what in the flying fuck?!” but under all that over the top visual mess are often very solid – both mechanically and in difficulty – video games that can supply a ton of fun. I’m not great at bullet hell titles, which is probably the same as 99% of the people who play video games, but this niche genre has given me lots of fun in the past, with classics like Ikaruga and Akai Katana, so I am always up for getting my arse handed to me by the genre, which Crimzon Clover World Ignition did to no end.

Rather than try shoehorn in a story that makes little to zero sense in a genre that doesn’t need to have one, the developer, one guy who goes by the name Yotsubane, kept the focus on the gameplay, meaning you are a pilot in an awesome ship and must get through the levels firing off a ton of bullets that would make Topper Harley from Hot Shots Part Deux proud. The game is never shy of filling up the screen with enemies or large bosses that stand in your way of completing the game. Simply put, your eyes will bleed and you will die… a lot.

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Crimzon Clover World Ignition is mechanically easy to grasp. It’s a vertical shooter that has you piloting a tiny ship with an even smaller hit box(it’s the cockpit). The player has access to an infinite amount of bullets, the general attack button, which is a rapid-firing energy gun that spreads in front of the ship to cover a large area as they travel up and off the screen. The second attack is a target lock-on system that when held down sends out a ring from the ship and anything in the vicinity becomes target for the homing lasers/rockets. There is a limited amount that you can lock on, for example, the Type-II ship can target up to 32 enemies, but the attack is truly helpful, especially when you need to move to the side to dodge incoming bullets, but cannot shoot back, so the homing system helps deal damage while not being able to get in front of the enemies. It’s a cool mechanic that helps combat situations where you are stuck waiting to deal damage, because the enemy bullets are zoning you out to the side and normally there is nothing you can do but wait or use a special bomb weapon. In this sense, it’s almost like the game wants you to focus on dodging bullets rather than worrying about if you are going to manage to shoot something.

Ah, lovely bombs, the saviour of the player, giving them a small window to take a breather before the action picks up again. Bombs are featured in Crimzon Clover World Ignition, but done in a different way. Normally, a bullet hell title will give you a limited about of bombs to use and should be treated as the last straw, the holy saviour before it’s over for your ship, but in Crimzon Clover World Ignition the break bar offers a way for players to keep acquiring bombs, as once the bar is filled past around a fifth of its size a bomb can be used – and can be sequentially called upon until there isn’t enough metre left – for a beautiful screen clearing explosion. Unless I spammed the bombs religiously, I always felt I had one in my arsenal to call upon when needed, as building up the metre past the low requirement to activate one bomb is never hard to do.

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If you can resist the lure of using a bomb, then the break bar will soon max out, unlocking a mode on the ship called break mode. In this state, the ship is given a power boost, as bullets are faster, bigger and stronger, causing deadly destruction for any enemy. It’s safe to say that break mode is the mechanic that is the heart of Crimzon Clover – similar how switching colours in Ikaruga was its – as the score increases a ridiculous amount during break mode, with the leaderboards ruled by people who have mastered the concept. Bombs can still be used in this mode, but if you empty the bar or die, then the ship reverts back to normal. Even more exciting is that if you can fill up the bar again during break mode, double break mode is achieved, which is exactly what it sounds, massive screen filling bullets of annihilation that will put a smile on any player’s face, as the stars rain down for tasty score bonuses. That is until a stray bullet stops your destructive fun and everything is back to basics. The break mode might not be the most complicated system in bullet hell games, but it sure is one of the more entertaining mechanics.

Bullet hell games are known to be hard to get into, even more so when it comes to retail pricing – only the most hardcore of the hardcore will pay up those retail prices for such a game that is so low on content, but is built around replayability. That is why having the digital market, such as Steam, means a game like Crimzon Clover World Ignition can release at a very respectable price (currently £6.99) and not have people worry about enjoying the game to feel they are getting their money’s worth out of it. Crimzon Clover World Ignition not only solves that problem with its pricing, but it also includes two modes of difficulty. Arcade, for the true experience, or Novice, a mode developed specifically for the novice bullet hell player or newcomer who wants to get their toes wet with the genre.

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Novice only allows access to Boost and Original gameplay modifiers. Boost is interesting because it adjusts the difficulty based on how well you are playing, but you cannot activate double break mode, while Original is the main mode of the game, keeping its difficulty scripted to how the developer created it. Arcade also includes Unlimited, a mode that ups the difficulty and bullet count tremendously (hello continue countdown), and Time Attack, which gives players 3 minutes to get the highest score possible. While there aren’t many levels to beat through (5 in total), the joy this game brings means replaying it is always a blast. It’s also small in size, so keeping it installed in the Steam library doesn’t take up much hard drive space, leaving it resting and waiting for you to return to beat your high scores or climb the leaderboards.

It’s hard to criticize something like Crimzon Clover World Ignition, because what it is doing it is doing great, and what makes up a bullet hell shooter is its gameplay mechanics. It’s easy to get into, the controls respond well on controller and keyboard (I still prefer using a controller though), the visuals are built upon a retro design, but even with their 2D sprite pixels all clear to see it remains rewarding to explode them into bursts of fire, and the soundtrack gets you nodding to the blistering on screen action. Seriously, the only problems I can pick are my wishes for a few more stages in the game and that finding my ship during Unlimited mode was easier, as it’s hard to sometimes spot yourself in the mist of bullets. You could clock that last comment to being part of that mode, as I didn’t have that issue during the less demanding difficulties.

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Fans of the genre have likely already found this game on Steam, so will know how enjoyable and well-crafted Crimzon Clover World Ignition is. As for others, all you should know is that Crimzon Clover World Ignition is a quality shoot ‘em up with easy to learn mechanics that is worth the asking price of admission to learn the basics of the genre and grow with its workings to become a bullet hell master. Well, that probably won’t ever happen, but at least Crimzon Clover World Ignition’s fireworks can be appreciated no matter how good or bad you are at dodging bullets.

8 out of 10