Do you remember Crimsonland the 2003 game? Probably not, but you’d be forgiven as not many will, however that hasn’t stopped a remake arriving on PC and PS4 in 2014.
Crimsonland is a top down 2D Arena Shooter with RPG elements, which may also remind you of I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MBIES 1N IT!!!1 which found critical and commercial success on Microsoft’s XBLIG service on XBOX 360. The idea of Crimsonland is essentially to kill everything that moves in any given level.
Controls will feel familiar to anyone who has played a similar game. Move with the left-stick, aim with the right and press a button to shoot your weapon. Enemies will spawn on the level and try to engulf you as you fill them full of lead from you weapon. As you progress through the main story mode, you can gradually unlock new weapons and power ups.
Here is the issue with the game though. Playing the early levels in the quest will feel sluggish and truth be told a little dull, this is because of the RPG elements for upgrading weapons and core abilities. In other games of this style, you feel like there is a flow to the movement, that you can get out of any situation with some clever movement and well taken shots, here though you feel like the game is trying to force a threat upon you and trying to give you little hope of getting out of danger.
Now this does all improve as you progress and the feeling you expect starts to make itself known, however early plays could see you give up on the game. That however would be a mistake, as the quests is just a small part of the overall experience and probably the worst part also.
Where we spent most time, was in the survival mode, where it is you vs waves and waves of zombies, aliens, spiders and who knows what else, with you only goal to survive as long as you possibly can, getting the highest possible score.
Along the way, you will level up, unlocking new perks and upgrades, such as bonus XP, the ability to see the enemies health, better accuracy, even trading all but 1% health to automatically jump to the next level up. The perks along with the speed of the game here are wonderful fun and the temptation to jump straight back in after death is just too tempting.
There are other modes too, such as Rush, where it is just you and an assault rifle vs hordes of monsters and no perks or powerups to help, but it is survival that proves to be the mode you will keep coming back to time and time again.
The game plays well on the Dual Shock 4 and there is an option to use the touch pad to aim and shoot. Whilst it is nice to see developers offer this as an option, it just didn’t feel as responsive of as accurate as using the sticks and buttons, but it is there for anyone who wants to try it and we dare say some may prefer it.
Visually Crimsonland is very much a retro style, but has been tarted up from its original release, looking much nice on your HDTV. We tried to play on the Vita via remote play (as we try to for most PS4 games) but we found that the screen got a tad too busy at times making it difficult to really work out what was going on using the Vita’s OLED. However, controls wise it worked fantastically well and if you have no other choice but playing via remote play, then it is certainly adequate enough.
Crimsonland isn’t the Indie highlight of the year, but what you do have is a solid 2D Arena Shooter that works as a nice distraction when you may only have a short window for playing a game. You can stick it on, have a quick play and then get back to whatever you are doing. There is always a place for game like that in our opinion and it is more than welcome to take up what little space is does on the PS4 HDD.