Crawl starts with a hilarious playable scene – you are led to believe that you are a hero in a dungeon about to embark on a epic journey – a creepy voice guides you on and soon after, you are killed turning into a ghost that has meek powers to spawn monsters and posses traps – the same ones you faced when you were a hero. You see, in crawl you play as both the hero and the enemies trying to take down the hero in a crawl for survival and escape where only one can survive.
The scene is set by the narrator, he makes me think of an old wizard with a twisted sense of humour that says a few lines at the beginning in an excellent and eerie voice and follows up with the odd line here and there later on. In true dungeon crawler fashion you have a spine-tingling arcade style theme song which is in your face – a good thing at first but as its, the same track throughout its shine does wear off and its a shame we didn’t get a bit more variety.
Crawls atmosphere is spot on, blood stains and creepy settings are abundant in the dungeon. The scenery is not very varied though as each floor of the dungeon has the same background albeit laid out in a different format. There are 60 different mobs and they are drawn well with cool looking spells and attacks – your own special attacks look great as well though its a shame that all of the playable characters look the same with just a different coloured set of clothes to separate them.
Crawl is a classic dungeon crawler complete with levelling up, descending dungeon floors and gear. Your mission is to level up to at least level 10 and challenge the dungeon boss – if you win you escape. Each floor is randomly generated and there are 3 different bosses that you may face and each of them is a big fattie that feels like an epic beast worthy of slaying. The spanner in the works is you are facing other opponents with the exact same mission as you and whilst you are a human they play as a ghost which possesses traps such as barrels that they can throw at you in order to kill you! They can also summon a monster over a pentagon and whilst summoned they play as the monster trying to kill you. Anyone as a ghost is unlikely to defeat you on their own and so the aim for them is to work together temporarily in order to bring you down in an uneasy temporary union – if they do manage to defeat you the ghost who had the last hit regains their humanity pushing you out to the brinks as a ghost now playing to kill them and regain your humanity. Whilst as a human you gain exp and gold which level you up and enable you to buy gear respectively, as you become stronger and defeat your opponents they gain wrath which can be spent to level up your 3 classes of mobs. It’s a clever system that aims to balance the players levelling against their opponents to ensure that if you are behind you can still partake and don’t feel completely frozen out of a run.
The control scheme is simple as you would expect with two attacks – normal bash and a special that needs recharging and offers a satisfying special attack, these vary and some are teleports whilst others provide a beam of energy or strong attacks.
The game is 100% geared towards multiplayer and whilst the solo playthrough is quite fun it’s not quite the same as killing your mates. Getting the right group together can be a blast and working together to take down an opponent whilst trying to sneak in the last hit is a laugh. I did find however though there is often a lot happening on the screen and whilst a ghost you can easily find yourself without a lot to do for long periods of time. In addition to this, the gameplay is pretty repetitive and although there are different bosses, weapons and gear I found that we soon got bored of the game.
At $14.99 in the US and £12.99 in the UK, the price puts this game in a bracket which has some very stiff competition.
The game does offer unlocks and reasons to continue playing and it is a good laugh with friends – for a while, so it really comes down to how much you enjoy it as to how much value you will receive.