The title says it all.
Several different twin-stick shooters have hit the Switch eShop this year and from my experience, most have been fairly fun to play. Butcher coated the 2D side-scrolling environment in blood, Neon Chrome presented fun obstacles and upgrades – so now it’s time to take a look at Crimsonland, another shooter from 10tons (who also developed Neon Chrome) and see how it stacks up with the other indies.
As the name implies, Crimsonland is all about coating the terrain in the red blood of your victims. The perspective is top-down, thus making it very apparent where every shot is hit on enemies. Homages to Doom are abound, popping into the general aesthetic. In essence, Crimsonland harkens back to the ‘90s arcade style of shooting games. Blood and gore are everywhere while you choose between a lot of different fire arms and power ups that are designed to make you feel unstoppable in the crossfire.
Turns out that Crimsonland is older than you might think. It was first released on PC way back in 2003 before moving to consoles in 2015. The Switch version isn’t much different from the original version. That said, the title runs very well in both handheld and docked gameplay. The design of co-op works great with quick jump-in/jump-out muliplayer, only adding to the chaos and fun. An array of different weapons and power-up upgrades are available. As enemies are killed, a bar fills up, which can let you choose between different perks, like speed, health, bullet strength, etc. And they’re really fun to use. I often tried picking up every possible collectible icon that showed up, in wonder of what would happen. Would I get a high-powered missile launcher? Or a machine gun with rapid fire perks? Or a flame thrower? One time, I picked up an icon and beams of light shot out everywhere, in a huge wave, destroying everything around me. It was an experience that scratched the itch of mindless fun. In a way, it reminded me of the auto-game play experience of something like Tetris, Bejewled, or even 2048. It’s an experience I did not have to think about strategically, but I still focused on enough to reach the end. That said, the difficulty spikes, and the tone of the game shifted into the opposite spectrum, becoming a genuine challenge that didn’t hold on to me very long. Not to say that it’s bad in that regard, but a certain level of skill is asked that can take a long time to build up. If you’re craving a challenge, please, it might be more up your alley.
Two modes are playable: Quest and Survival. Quest features six sets of 10 levels with repeating enemies and attack patterns. It all moves quickly and, naturally, increases in difficulty. Quest Mode is not really a “quest” though. It felt more like just challenges that had been designed to teach the game quickly, and then amp up in challenge. It was a fun playthrough because I got a grasp of the mechanics very quickly. Chaos ensued in all regards of the gameplay as hundreds of spiders and hordes of zombies overran the world. It got a little repetitive for me at times, though. I found myself straining occasionally to stay on board with going through each level, which might make it a grind if you are interested in getting to the harder difficulty. Survival features waves of enemies that keep coming as you try to stay alive. It’s fun, but doesn’t blow me away in the realm of creativity. I felt like I knew exactly what everything was and did, and what to expect – before I even started. And I’m not even an avid twin-stick shooter fan. Option-wise, survival mode pushes for time restrictions, weapon limitations, power-up limits, etc. Online leaderboards can help keep Survival more engaging as well. They’re almost as addicting in nature as the rest of this game. It’s exciting to be able to experience a challenge not really pre-recorded like in the Quest mode, but instead taking on the challenge of the skills mastered in the Quest mode. Survival asks a lot of the player, both in patience and in focus. It’s not quite as easygoing, mindless repeats as the alternative, so if you’re looking for a more robust challenge of gauntlet-like shooting, take this on.
As a whole, I had fun with this one. I think better twin-stick shooters are out there on the Switch, but that’s mostly because Crimsonland is from a different era of an already fairly niche genre. But, if you’ve played those highlights already and want more, you can’t go wrong with this. It’s not bland by any means; just exactly what the experience you’d expect is. It’s mindless fun, with enough addictive strategy to keep playing. I loved weaving through the hundreds of enemies (whether they were zombies, spiders, or something in-between) so I could reach a power-up orb at the last second, to suddenly fry everything around me with a flame thrower. It’s a great time all around, and if you have the itch, give it a try.