Crimsonland
Gameplay 9
Graphics 7
Sound 8

If you played Crimsonland before, the updated version is definitely a nostalgic blast from the past. It still has enough to offer new players as well with a multitude of modes, weapons, perks and achievements to keep things interesting. As long as you don’t expect a deep plot or anything beyond killing every monster in sight you will have fun with Crimsonland.

Gameplay: A simple, yet addictive top down shooter which is enhanced with some great perks.

Graphics: Improved over the original version, but still pretty basic.

Sound: Suits the game nicely, but doesn’t really stand out

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Crimsonland

Developer: 10tons Ltd | Publisher: 10tons Ltd | Release Date: 2014 | Genre: Indie / Action / RPG | Website: Official Website | Format: Digital Download

Crimsonland was originally released in 2003 for PC and quickly became one of my favorite titles to play when I had a few minutes to kill. Instead of an elaborate story or cut-scenes, your character is tossed into an arena where you have to survive the onslaught of numerous enemies. The game offered plenty of mindless fun and is now available again in updated form after being successfully Greenlit at the end of 2013.

The thing about nostalgia is that we very often remember things better than what they really were. When I saw the new version of Crimsonland, it actually looked the same to me as what I thought the original game looked like. It wasn’t until I checked out the original game again that I could make a comparison and realize that the new version actually does look quite a bit better. Not only are there new models and animations for all the creatures, but there are new 3D models for each gun as well. You might also notice that the terrain art has been given a bit of an overhaul and that the playing field is a bit larger. The most obvious change though is the user interface which has been remade to accommodate the new platforms for which the game will be released on. Instead of all the counters for health, ammo and so on being displayed at the top of the screen, only your level, score and progress is shown there. Health is now indicated by a blue circle around your character while your ammo count is shown next to the targeting reticule. It took me a while to get used to the changes, but it does mean you don’t have to take your eyes off the action as much to see how you are doing on health and ammo.

If you missed out on this overlooked gem all those years ago, it is basically a top down shooter that pits you against almost impossible odds. You have to kill an ever growing crowd of monsters that spawn on the playing field while they try their best to corner and overwhelm you. While the enemies have numbers on their side you have guns and power-ups at your disposal. These are dropped by defeated enemies and can really make or break your survival chances. The arsenal of guns have been expanded and you now have 30 at your disposal, but they are progressively unlocked by completing missions in quest mode and you can only carry one at a time. You have unlimited bullets though, and your firepower can be enhanced by the power-ups that also appear randomly. Some power-ups slow down enemies while others outright freeze them. There are also power-ups that allow you to shoot flaming bullets of destruction or even drop a nuke on your enemies. Most power-ups last only a short time or are used right away, which means you still have to rely on your quick reflexes and a bit of luck to survive.

My favorite part of the original version of Crimsonland were the perks, which are unlockable skills that bestow a permanent advantage to your character. Everything from faster reloading to poison bullets, improved dodging, longer lasting power-ups and health regeneration are up for the taking. The way that perks work have been changed for this game, so instead of being able to pick them after leveling up during quest mode, you now use quest mode to unlock them for survival mode. Purists will probably not like this change as it makes things quite a bit tougher, but fortunately the developers have hidden away the option to enable perks during quest mode if you really want to do so. There are a couple of new perks and some have been altered, such as Telekinesis, which was pretty overpowered in the original game, but have now been tweaked to make it more suited for players using gamepads.

Apart from quest mode, which now features six chapters, each with ten levels, you can also play one of the five survival modes. Some of the survival modes have to be unlocked during quest mode, but they all offer an interesting variation on the core gameplay. For example, “Rush” mode challenges you to last as long as you can using only an assault rifle while “Weapon Picker” allows you to pick up new weapons, but guns can run out of ammo and cannot be reloaded. “Nukefism” takes things a step further by not giving you any weapons and forcing you to rely on the random power-ups that appear to take down enemies. Of course, you can opt for just plain “Survival” mode where you see how high you can take your score while leveling up and selecting perks. Survival mode definitely feels like it is harder than the original version, but this is a good thing as it ensures you won’t be bored. The leaderboard system has been remade so you can now see how you measure up against other players. Co-op fans will also be glad to hear that you can team up with three other players for some action, but this is local only and not online.

While the visuals have been spruced up the game still keeps things very simple and your foes range from zombies and lizards to spiders. The arenas are devoid of much detail, but once the enemies start appearing there isn’t much time to admire the scenery in any case. One visual element that is quite cool and explains the name of the game is the way that the blood of fallen enemies remains on the ground until the end of each round. Because of the sheer amount of foes you face you usually end each round with everything around you awash in crimson. From what I can tell the audio is pretty much the same as the original version, but it suits the game so that is fine with me.

Crimsonland was a lot of fun to play more than ten years ago and it is still a lot of fun to play today. The focus of the original game was not on story or visuals, but gameplay, which means that the arcade style shooting still holds up even today. The new version only spruces things up a bit instead of making any drastic changes and despite completing the game numerous times years back, I still found this release addictive enough to play through again. The gameplay is still addictive and if you dislike the new quest mode, you can always enable perks again, so there is no reason to complain.

*Review originally published June 2014.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows XP / Vista / 7
  • Processor: 1 Ghz
  • Memory: 512 MB RAM
  • DirectX: Version 8.1
  • Hard Drive: 200 MB available space
  • Additional Notes: Gamepads must support XInput
  • OS: 10.6+
  • Processor: 1 Ghz
  • Memory: 512 MB RAM
  • Hard Drive: 200 MB available space
  • Additional Notes: Tested gamepads include PS4 and PS3 controllers. Other modern gamepads work probably too.
  • OS: Ubuntu
  • Processor: 1 Ghz
  • Memory: 512 MB RAM
  • Hard Drive: 200 MB available space

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