Being able to destroy zombies, giant spiders, aliens, and other monstrosities all in one sitting sounds like a glorious revelation for many of us, and Crimsonland has been having players do this for over ten years. Developer 10tons released Crimsonland first back in 2003 for PC and it was later remastered in 2014 for practically all gaming systems. The only system it was missing from was the Nintendo Switch, only now it has just released with all the same features as the previous iterations for better and worse.
Crimsonland is a top-down perspective twin-stick shooter with a major arcade-like influence. Judging from the cover art, it looks like a homage to Doom and other shooters of the 90’s and early 2000’s. Unfortunately, all the action-packed, hard-rocking gameplay you think you’re going to experience is not there, and while Crimsonland is entertaining for maybe an hour or two, the blandness of everything really takes its toll.
There are a few different modes you can play with Quest and Survival being the main attractions. The Quest mode is basically the campaign, but there really isn’t much of a story to speak of. Instead, it’s more of an extended tutorial as you go through six different worlds with ten levels each battling all types of different creatures. While playing through the levels you will be unlocking new weapons and perks that can be used in the Survival mode.
Because of this extended tutorial within Quest mode, you can learn more about the enemy patterns and slowly unlock new weaponry always being able to use the new weapon you unlocked right from the onset of the next mission. This way you can kind of get a feel for each weapon and figure out for yourself which ones are worth using and which ones to stay far-away from. While there are many weapons to choose from, I was disappointed with how pointless some were to use and always gravitated towards the Gauss or Plasma class weapons due to their stopping power.
The gameplay is very simple and all the modes boil down to just surviving against the waves of enemies coming towards you, whether it’s to clear a level in a Quest, or trying to stay alive until you die in Survival. With Quest mode, you have a progress bar at the top which represents how many enemies you have left on the field to destroy before you successfully complete the mission. The bar below represents your experience and once this levels up you will be able to select from one of the random perks.
Not much is unlocked from the get-go, but once everything is unlocked you will have around thirty weapon types, as well as fifty different perks and there is a decent variety to both allowing for some deep customization. However, only a few weapons or perks are truly helpful and many times I just used the same few weapons and perks each play through because anything else would lead to a premature death. Also, many of the weapons and perks are just minor variations of one another with each type of weapon having a shotgun or automatic-rifle version.
Enemies also drop a few random items when defeated including: score increases, fire shots which shoot out in all directions, and nuclear bombs which immediately wipeout any enemies close to you. There are also health increases, items to make you move faster, and even some obscure items which may change the way you attack. There isn’t that much to the Quest mode and it only takes a few hours to complete. New difficulty options are unlocked once the campaign is beaten with there being tougher enemies and more added to each wave.
A big bulk of your play time will most likely be with the Survival mode and if you are somebody who is into high score chasing with certain conditions coming into play, survival mode will definitely intrigue you. There are a few different styles of play which include giving you less weaponry to choose from, only being able to use nuke items to defeat enemies, or only being able to use an automatic-rifle with unlimited ammo.
One of the things I really appreciated about the Switch version was the same system local co-op which can be fun to play in short bursts, although there is no online play other than checking the leaderboards. I can’t imagine the community getting too massive on the Switch, but at least there is competitive replay value here.
Overall, there’s nothing inherently wrong about Crimsonland. It’s probably one of the safest and most generic twin-stick shooters you will play, but there is some type of visceral fun in titles like this. The problem is we’re seeing many of the same type of gameplay experiences on the Switch and I just don’t think Crimsonland does enough to differentiate from other similar titles. Crimsonland offers some throwaway fun for sure, but it ends up just being too bland.