Real Talk By: Haggy
Crawl’s concept had me hooked. I regret not picking it up sooner. Better late than never though, and this should definitely be something we talk about.
If you aren’t in the know, Crawl is an indie dungeon crawler in the vein of the original Legend of Zelda and the Binding of Isaac, but with a twist! You and three others find yourselves losing your minds in the dungeon. After killing each other until one remains, make sure you level up your character enough to defeat a final boss at the end. The catch here is that the other players aren’t being idle while they’re waiting for their turn. Far from it, they will be spawning minions, monsters, and will even be using traps and the environment to try and kill the current player.
Once the current player is slain, the spirit (the waiting player) that killed them takes their place and then tries to level up their character to beat the final boss. There can only be one winner, and with every level your character gains, everyone else gets more points for upgrading their monsters, and the longer you give them lets them have a better chance of getting more minions to throw at you as well.
This is a very compelling game mode, and as far as twists on the game go, it’s amazing. No one feels like they’re falling behind since as a player gets more powerful, your minions and attacks against them rise to their level as well. But that’s just the set up, how is the game-play?
Well, the game-play is a solid dungeon crawler. It’s not particularly spectacular when you are the player, but the sound design makes it satisfying to hit and move, the abilities and weapons you get are actually very well designed so even though it has a slow start, you do eventually find yourselves becoming more and more powerful.
It is also enjoyable to be the spirits as well, your possessions and your attacks and maneuvers as monsters and minions are always fun to use, and it definitely helps the theme of paranoia as you start possessing chests to eat adventurers as they come near, or even let the other spirits whittle the hero down somewhat before trying to go in for the kill yourself.
The Soundtrack is also a very solid piece of this game. Fitting the retro looks perfectly, while also keeping your blood pumping, with the narrator adding depth and a perfect tone for the dungeon as a whole. Couple that with other nuances like every move having a good tell, then you got yourself a solid game even without the twist.
But eventually, the game must come to an end, and Crawl has a fantastic approach to this…. Once a player has decided they are ready to try the boss, they go to the portal and then go to face the final boss of the dungeon… with the other three players controlling aspects of the beast independently. The boss fights are always intense, challenging, and engaging for everyone but even here there is a catch. The party as a whole has three attempts to defeat the boss… if all three attempts are a failure, then everybody loses.
In closing, Crawl is simply amazing. It has a great mechanic, and if you have three friends, or love a good couch multiplayer game this is for you. In fact, you should probably just get this anyways just so when you do have people over you’ll have something to tide you over for the whole night… and into the morning.
4.5 out of 5
+Satisfying Sound Design
+The Pace is Near Perfect
+It is Set That No Player Falls Behind
+$15 is a Bargain
+Plenty of Unlocks
-No Online Multiplayer
-It Does Feel Occasionally Stiff
-AI is Rather Lacking
-Some Instances of Cheese May Occur