Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also on: Win/Mac/Linux, Xbox One, PS4
Publisher/ Developer: Powerhoof
Number of Players: 1-4
Competitive multiplayer games are certainly nothing new, but the concept of a player running a dungeon and your friends being the monsters sure is. Can friendships survive the lure of adventure? Crawl does its best to answer that question.
Gameplay: The game starts off as a each player selects a being to worship that sets your special move and other perks. Then we have a battle royale between players until one remains. That person starts off as the living adventurer, and the other players start off as incorporeal ghosts. The adventurer moves through the procedurally generated dungeons, fighting monsters until they die or reach level 10. Players level up from defeating monsters and gaining XP. Once a living player hits level 10 they can access the boss portal and attempt to beat him. Depending on the boss you get the ghosts can possess limbs or environmental hazards and help the boss try to best you down. This is where the potential strained friendships come in.
There are several bosses and one is randomly picked each new session. The group of players get three attempts to beat the boss or it’s game over. Along the way are merchant rooms to buy new moves, weapons and accessories to help your quest.
The ghost players can animate objects in the rooms or use summoning circles to become monsters to try to kill the living player. If a ghost lands the killing blow they become alive and the adventurer becomes a ghost. Every time a living player levels up the ghost gain “wrath points” that allow you to upgrade the monsters you can become. There are also blobs of ectoplasm that float around the rooms you can gather and then you can use them to make smile creatures to attack the living player.
You can play with as few as one player with bots added in for missing players but obviously the game excels the more human players you have. As with any game you are playing against people it can get pretty chaotic.
Controls: The controls are super simple with only two attack buttons a basic attack and a special move and you use the left stick to move, that’s it. They are very easy to pick up and you can use any configuration from a single joycon to a pro controller. This setup applies if you are playing human or ghost. The game controls great and is very responsive.
Graphics: The game does a fine job of emulating the graphics of the late 16-bit era when friends piled up on a couch and beat the snot out of each other. The rough pixelated graphics also really feel at home in this rough and tumble game.
Music/Sound: The sounds effects are especially well done with meaty hits and clang of metal. The game does a fine job of making you feel right in the battle. The music is suitably grim and almost metal, which feels right at home in this brutal game. The narrator is especially good using an almost Vincent Price kind of vibe to remind you that all is lost or you are doomed.
Summary: Crawl is a hyper-kinetic, super chaotic free-for-all and we love it for that. Like a lot of multiplayer games, things can turn on a dime and victory can be snatched away at a moments notice. The presentation is fantastic at drawing you in and keeping you playing even after you start plotting to kill the person next to you for screwing up your chance at victory.
- Lots to play and many unlockables.
- Fantastic graphics, sound and game performance.
- Killing your friends is fun!
- If you’re not the first or second living player, you can be at a disadvantage for the rest of the game.
- Bots are a little too good.
- Being killed by your friends is awful!
Disclaimer: A digital copy of the game was provided by Powerhoof for review purposes.