If you own a PlayStation system and are a fan of retro style top down shooters then you’re in luck; 10tons have brought their super gory title Crimsonland to PS4/PS3/PS Vita, with cross-buy.
The quest mode of Crimsonland takes place through six chapters, each with 10 missions. You’re an unnamed space soldier fighting against an onslaught of enemies for no discernible reason other than survival. You aren’t getting cut-scenes and a story here; this game is all about the gameplay.
On that note, it’s a good thing then that the gameplay is strong and kind of addicting in that “one more mission/one more attempt” way. On launch night, I sat down with the intention of streaming the game for one hour… it ended up being a three hour stream where I completed the game on normal difficulty.
All in all, it took me about four and a half hours to complete the game; as you can see from the three hour stream here, about an hour of that was trying to get past the final mission in the game. I’m not going to lie: I was on the verge of breaking my controller out of frustration.
I only have a few issues with the game, and I think anyone who watches the video or plays it themselves will mostly agree. A lot of the time, the game doesn’t feel skill based. Instead, there is an over-reliance on luck.
Weapons, abilities, and power-ups randomly drop when you kill enemies; some weapons are worthless (like the starting pistol). Too often, the good weapons won’t drop or you won’t be able to get to it. Considering how slowly you move in this game (unless you get speed upgrades, which are random drops), it is then easy to become overrun by a massive horde of enemies.
Of course there is skill to the game; after all it doesn’t aim itself and knowing when you should take some damage to trigger a nuke could be the difference between completing a mission and dying. You can aim with either the thumbstick or have more control over your aim by using the touchpad (which you can also fire with). Unless it was a couple of enemies at a distance, I always used the thumbstick since it was easier.
One thing you’ll notice about the game is its difficulty. Even on normal this game is challenging. There’s a trophy for completing every mission on normal without taking damage, and well I think that is impossible. I don’t see how it could be done on that final mission because there’s way too many enemies and way too much going on. I want to see it.
Completing the game on normal unlocks Hardcore, and if you somehow get past that, there’s an even harder difficulty available. No thanks, I don’t want to have to buy another new controller… but it’s nice for the sadist who will seek to complete the game at its hardest.
Outside of the quest, there are five Survival modes and this is where the real replay value will kick in as you try to best your own high score as well as compete for a spot on the PSN leaderboards. Each of the survival modes have a different twist, like one where you get no weapon and instead have to rely on making it to randomly spawning nukes and other abilities, and some allow you to level up (and with each level, you can choose between three choices of perks) to create a lite RPG affair.
As you would expect, all of these modes are quite challenging and usually won’t last longer than a few minutes before you get swarmed (unless you’re just really good), and they all have that “one more try turns into 20 more attempts” addictive quality to them.
For those who like an arcade challenge (with its difficulty, this game would have been eating quarters left and right in the ’90s if it were an arcade) and competing for high scores, Crimsonland offers a lot of replay value for its $8.99 price.
It’s an easy recommendation for fans of twin-stick shooters, but if you’re on the fence, there’s a demo available on the PlayStation store. For Vita owners, it’s especially a price since its a cross-buy title, so if you buy it for one PlayStation system you get it for all. That means you can paint the ground crimson on your TV and on the go.
Crimsonland gets a four out of five: GREAT.
* A PSN code was provided by the publisher for review.