Indie Game Review: Crimsonland (Xbox One)

Oh, the carnage! 

The shoot-em-up gore fest, Crimsonland, originally released back in 2003 on the PC, and was the debut game from the good folks at 10tons. The veritable blood bath of a game has since been re-mastered on iOS, windows and Android phones, as well as the PS4 and PSVita back in 2014.

And now its happily found its way onto the Xbox One.

So just how well does Crimsonland translate onto the platform?

For those that never played the game way back when, Crimsonland is, at its core, a simplistic, back-to-basics kind of shoot-em-up game, that consists of two modes – survival and missions. In the missions, you’re faced with waves of varying foes, and with each wave you defeat, you unlock a new gun or power-up that will aid you in future waves, as well as in survival mode.

Survival mode pretty much does what it says on the tin, in that you just need to survive the endless onslaught of mobs, and the longer you last the more levels you gain, with perks to be earned as well.

It does work very well on the Xbox platform, but it’s very easy to see how well suited it is on mobiles or tablets, and indeed, the menu screen almost looks like something you’d see when you open up the game on an iOS, or Android phone.

Having said that, the mechanics are simple and easily suit the Xbox One controller. Aiming can feel a little awkward at times with the thumbstick, but it certainly adds to the challenge of the game-play.

The multiplayer aspect of the game (which allows 2-4 players locally) is one of the biggest selling points of its release on the Xbox One. It’s the perfect little game for some team work, and those enemy waves aren’t quite so overwhelming with a buddy nearby to guard your back – but you better be prepared, because the more players you have, the more enemies you’ll face.

99% of the same code was used for the re-mastered version, so it’s staying true to the original release, but it would have been nice to see some more variation in the backgrounds used during the waves – all are the same brown, muddy scene.

However, this was probably done to really draw your attention to the the endless carcasses, and generous splatters of blood you’ll be painting the ground with.

Additionally, the insane amount of enemies swarming the screen really does distract you from everything else background-wise, but with an updated version of the game, and tons of waves to play through, it could have just done with a little re-vamp to spice things up a bit.

The vast amount of weapons and power-ups to unlock are one of the games main strengths, and it definitely succeeds at keeping the combat side of things interesting and fun. It’s so very satisfying wiping out a large portion of an enemy mob with a firestorm, or by blasting them to smithereens with a direct shot from a rocket launcher.

Sometimes it can feel like your success is in the luck of the draw when doing the missions. If you begin a wave and get the super awesome Ion gun, or flamethrower, you’ll be tackling those spiders, lizards, zombies, and varying swarms in a far more manageable fashion. At other times it can be incredibly difficult to avoid being overwhelmed – it is certainly a challenging enough game.

There’s no story driving the game forward, survival is pretty much the only aim. Whilst the missions and survival modes offer up unlockable perks, weapons and power-ups, the lack of an end goal or story-line takes away some of the incentive in staying invested in playing.

But for a game that’s originally over a decade old, it’s stood up to the test of time. The remastered edition has been executed well, whilst still possessing a retro feel – especially with the style of the enemy sprites, and the top-down view.

Fans of this game are sure to enjoy re-living Crimsonland’s re-mastered version from 2014 on the Xbox One, and it easily fits in well with the platform. For those that haven’t played it, it’s sure to remind you of some of the old classic shoot-em-ups of a similar style.

It’s one incredibly addictive, fun little game that’s terribly easy to while away several hours playing, until you’re completely immersed in the gory destruction of enemy waves headed your way.

Crimsonland is out on Xbox One 14 October, 2015, and will also be available to play as a free trial.

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