Out first on PlayStation 4, Crimsonland is a Cross-Buy twin stick shooter also coming to Vita and PS3. With the Vita version just around the corner, PS4 will have to do for the purpose of this review. Developer 10tons Ltd. has revisited their first game, originally released back in 2003, now tailored for consoles and Steam with trophies and leaderboards. Overall, the visuals and gameplay remains the same, but that’s not entirely a bad thing.
At first glance, the seasoned PlayStation gamer or critic might think, “hey, that just looks like Dead Nation but old.” You’d be only 1/10th right. For Crimsonland hides so much more than what a glancing comparison reveals. Peel back the layers and you’ll soon discover a plethora of unlockable weapons and modifiers, and an RPG-ish unlocking system worth mentioning. Fortunately for simple old-school gamers like myself, it’s not a system that requires much knowledge of RPGs.
Crimsonland undoubtedly gets it’s title for the sheer amount of blood that is spilled on the battlefield; painting the land red as it were. In each level, the protagonist is matched up against hordes of spiders and ants, completely naked zombie men, aliens and more. While mowing down the evil denizens of Crimsonland I couldn’t help feeling as though each level using just one or two types of enemies from start to finish was a bit monotonous, maybe even boring. But after a few levels I realized this was another surface judgement.
Right out of the gate, most everything in the game is locked, except for the first level Quests. There are additional ways to play buried and locked within the Survival mode menu option (and a secret mini-game hidden in the credits), but first you must play through Quests mode. Once in Quests, only one of the three difficulty options is unlocked and only one of six chapters as well. Each Chapter contains 10 quests, with the 10th pretty much being the boss battle. I was floored by the difficulty of these boss fights. Some are semi-skill based, but most come down to using the right weapon.
And of course it’s not as simple as just choosing the weapon I want to use. Nope. Instead, I started every quest with a standard issue pistol and had to kill the first or so enemy to reveal a weapon pickup. More kills revealed various other pickups such as timed character or weapon modifiers, defensive shields or speed boosts, health, and other weapons of course. If I manage to get through a level unscathed, a nice gold star would appear on that particular quest.
One thing I really loved about this game was the endless feeling of being rewarded. I’m realizing with each 10tons game that this is a running theme. After every quest, a weapon or modifier pickup was added to my arsenal, further improving upon my experience going forward and even replaying previous quests. One of the toughest elements of reviewing games is knowing when you must quit and write the review. Crimsonland is tough to put down and hard to get through.
I played the game lots directly through the PlayStation 4, but I always like to provide some feedback on how a PS4 game plays when stream through the Vita. Of course, with a above average connection to the PS4 it looks and plays great. I can’t give any credit to the games themselves as I’m fairly certain that is an attribute of the hardware. But since Crimsonland uses the R2/L2 buttons to shoot, I found it difficult to find the fire button on the rear touch pad.
Another way to play is by using the touch pad on the DualShock 4 or the front touch screen on the Vita. This is not a viable option as the touchpad must be depressed to fire while sliding around to aim, and on Vita it’s even worse because you must aim with one finger and use another to fire. This blocks too much of the screen and is not nearly as quick or accurate as using the right stick and a button. But there is still no way to remap the buttons.
Overall, the seemingly endless unlocks will keep you playing while the plethora of weapons and modifiers will keep the action fresh. Enemies are mostly mindless, but the challenge comes from easy to formulate strategies of play and using just the right weapon. The game is laid out for beginners and will develop those beginners into seasoned twin stick shooter veterans before reaching the end of the Quests mode. I wouldn’t mind being able to customize my controller layout, but outside of that I didn’t find much to complain about. Yeah, it’s an old game redone for PS4…but that’s being done all the time.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here.
What I Like:
- Classic twin stick shooter gameplay.
- Cross-buy on PS4, Vita, and PS3 (Vita/PS3 versions coming soon).
- Lots of enemy types, loads of weapon and perk unlocks.
- Quests mode has 60 quests in each of the three progressive difficulties.
- Five survival mode variations: Survival, Rush, Blitz, Weapon Picker, and Nukefism.
- Some puzzle type levels vary up the gameplay challenge.
- Boss battles that will challenge your nerves.
- Up to four-player local co-op.
What I Dislike:
- No online co-op.
- No way to customize controller layout.
- Remote Play through Vita means using the rear touch pad to shoot.