Crashlands feels like a case study in the pros and cons of designing a game for both PC and mobile. It’s easy to assume that any decision made with mobile in mind will hurt the overall game on PC, but that’s really not true, and Crashlands proves it. Simple controls and a clean UI are good news for a game on any platform. Unfortunately, Crashlands also lends some ammo to the other side of the argument.
Crashlands is a top-down action RPG with lots of exploration and crafting. You play as Flux, an intergalactic delivery truck driver who has crash landed on an alien planet, and must find a way off so she can finish her deliveries. At first glance, it seems very similar to Klei’s whimsical survive-’em-up Don’t Starve, but Crashlands isn’t trying to be a survival game. Instead of hunger and thirst bars, developer Butterscotch Shenanigans puts the focus on combat and quests. I spent most of my time doing missions for the grotesque but charming denizens of the world, helping them kill beasts, undermine demigods, or just go fishing.
Survival game tropes like crafting and resource collection are still here, but they’ve been simplified. Most noticeably, there’s no inventory management. You can pick up as much junk as you want and it sorts itself, becoming instantly available when you approach a crafting station. This is the first major design choice influenced by the mobile platform, and it’s a great one. Not having to worry about picking up too many sticks or flowers was a relief, as Crashlands asked me to grow my strength instead of scavenge to survive.
Many hard-to-find materials could be needed later, and always being able to pick them up meant I was never punished with inventory busywork to enjoy the discovery. An infinite inventory also allows for even better changes to the formula, like automatically picking up drops from killed enemies, because why would you make me click the loot every time I make something explode?
Kill, craft, repeat.
Without checking my pockets every two minutes. I could focus more on the combat, which is one of the best parts of Crashlands. Clicking is used to both move and attack, with up to four items. (Healing potions, grenades, stunning items, and so on) assigned to the keyboard. While enemies charge up attacks, a red indicator appears on the ground. And you can avoid damage by getting out of the way.
So I’m dancing around telegraphed attacks, relying on my ability to micro my rapid clicking in order to deal damage while staying safe. It feels closer to MOBA combat than Minecraft. And my fights often spiraled wildly out of control as my dodging accidentally aggro’d more creatures. Each type with its own movement and attack pattern. Crashlands’ boss fights are also some of its best moments, throwing combinations of attack patterns at you—it’s a real challenge to dodge fireballs, punching fists, and AoE attacks while still finding time to actually deal damage.
While the combat and the inventory management benefit from their mobile influence, the crafting system and the pacing of the game definitely do not. It wasn’t long before I figured out the grindy framework hidden underneath Crashlands’ charming exterior: Get a new crafting station. Make new armor, a new weapon, and a new tool. Use your new tool to collect a resource you couldn’t before. Use the new resource to make a new crafting station. Rinse and repeat.
If you like other RPG games watch the review of Assassin’s Creed TOP 10