I received “Crawl” as a steam gift from my friend about two years ago. Every year he will get me a new video game always indie always great. When he gets me a game he has told me that it must fulfill a certain prerequisite in order for him to even consider a game as a present.It must have pixel graphic art, I’m a complete fool for good pixel art… I’m a simple man. Other than that Rpg’s and anything fantasy stacked on top of that make for an unblock-able wombo combo straight to my heart. Upon receiving Crawl through steam I was hesitant because it was an early access game which most gamers know to be part of the unholy trinity including survival and crafting. This being because the market is and has been over saturated by these brands of games ever since the release of Mine craft. Early access I’m particularly fearful of because it allows developers to push an unfinished product for the price of a finished product without the affirmation that they will ever patch out all potential bugs, increase play ability etc. I knew however after I started up this game for the first time that Australian Developer “Powerhoof” had taped something truly original and inspiring.
In Crawl you and up to three other friends get to huddle around your tv or computer and duke it out for riches and glory. You delve through a randomly generated dungeon with traps, monsters, stores and shrines until you reach level ten. Once someone reaches level ten they may attempt to activate the boss portal which ,obviously, teleports you to the dungeon boss of which there are only two. Once faced with the boss you must fight it to the death overcoming the grand beast grants you victory over the game. Now you are probably thinking,
“wait a minute… how exactly can four people manage to play this? wouldn’t there be a certain point where once you fall behind fighting monsters becomes to difficult given you are also competing with your couch mates?”.
In the title you might have noticed that I make use of the term 1v3 that is because in this game at any given point only one of the four of you playing may be the protagonist. What are the other three people doing? They get to control all obstacles that the current hero must overcome. Players in this position are represented as varying colored ghosts. This means three players at points throughout the game are trying to use traps and monsters to destroy their lone friend. Dealing the final blow against the player currently playing the hero grants the killer humanity which in turn lets him take his time in the lime light as the monster slaying hero. So the entire game is a vicious cycle of dying and changing positions over and over.
As the protagonist you gain exp. which levels you up and if you manage to stay alive long enough grants you the opportunity to use the store to purchase new weapons and armor. You can get everything from magic pole arms that summon a line of spears from the ground to passive shields that prevent you from getting hit from flanking attacks. Now of course there must be a way to balance out power as you progress to prevent one player from becoming unstoppable. Every floor you play as a ghost you gain wrath which rewards those who fall behind and never become human. In turn this gives a distinct disadvantage to those who have been thrown down from their position as hero after a long bought of humanity. Ghosts use their wrath in between floors to power up monsters they could potentially summon every boost changing them into a cooler looking form. Eventually you can summon monsters which are practically mini bosses.
As I briefly mentioned earlier in order to beat the game any given player must beat the boss. Boss fights are exciting; though you cannot summon a monster when in this stage when you are a ghost you get to instead control a part of the boss. It’s in the boss fights that this game takes a sudden turn for cooperative game play in favor of the ghosts. When I play this with my friends we will strategically pick certain body parts and help instruct one another as to how we believed we should kill our traitorous friend and prevent him from winning the game.
All in all I love this game and am excited to announce that after over two long years Powerhoof is finally officially releasing crawl. This means it will no longer be in early access and it is going to receive more attention from the mainstream gaming community. Upon release they will be unveiling new monsters, weapons and (finally) new bosses. The game is also seeing its debut on Xbox one and PS4. You should check this game out and show these Australian wizards some love April 11th when version 1.0 officially drops.