Basement Crawl Review (PSN)
Update: Bloober Team has released a letter addressing many of the negative call-outs of our review, including the limited content offering and the bugs in the online multiplayer. While the letter promises to fix the bugs and eventually add more features, we will not be changing the score or text of our review as it reflects the game that was released publicly on February 25th. You can read Bloober Team’s response to the negative reviews here.
Original Review: Meet the cast of Basement Crawl: A creepy binky-sucking clown on a unicycle, a small blindfolded girl carrying a knife wielding bear, a chopped up mannequin in a creaky old wheelchair, and a large scantily dressed woman with what appears to be a bag over her head. Confused yet? Excellent, we’re on the same page. Now take these four characters, give them all bombs, and throw them into a grid based arena as up to eight player characters compete to blow up more other players than their opponents in either. It’s essentially Bomberman: Survival Horror Edition.
Booting up the game gave me a confusing opening sequence in which a little girl is talking to her grandmother about why she can’t venture into the outside world. Apparently, the world is dark, cold, and full of dangers. It’s safe inside. “Is there no one outside that can be my friend?” The girl asks. “Grandma will always be your friend. Just the two of us,” the grandmother answers. “What if something happens to you grandma?” is the girl’s follow up. “Nothing will ever happen to grandma, you don’t have to worry,” the grandmother replies, as it shows what appears to be the dead body of the grandmother surrounded by the creepy main cast of Basement Crawl characters. The grandmother is shown to have a key in her hand.
What does all that to do with four horror movie rejects blowing each other up in a semi-organized fashion? Your guess is as good as mine. I have yet to figure out what is actually supposed to be going on in Basement Crawl. There is no single player mode to help explain things. There’s just you, the arena, and everyone in multiplayer trying to turn you into a bloody splatter, with no further reference to the seemingly dead grandmother.
I first visited the help and FAQ section, which is hidden in the options menu. The only other two selections on the main menu are Local Multiplayer and Global Multiplayer, and neither of them teach you how to play the game. Even the help section only loosely explains how to play, but with how fairly simplistic the game is, it’s easy enough to pick up. I haven’t found a way to play solo in this game, so I jumped straight into the Global Multiplayer in a trial by fire. The gameplay in frantic and oft times more confusing that not. The screen is fairly dark and there isn’t much about the characters that makes them stick out significantly. I found myself losing track of my character in the fray and ending up dead a lot. Surprisingly, just spamming bombs often put me in first place for many of the rounds that I played.
There is very little organization or strategy required to play. There may be special types of bombs and different character specialties (like longer range bombs, or higher health), but these attributes make very little difference in the grand scheme of things. Still, the game is pretty fun for a short time, in an extremely simplistic sort of way. I did run into problems where the game would decide not to load in players and just show the arena as time counted down. Occasionally it would only load in certain players, and I would be left watching until whenever it decided to spawn my character. There is a significant lack of polish in this basement, and it’s noticeable, especially when the content offering is so limited.
There isn’t a lot to speak of in Basement Crawl, and all of what the game has to offer can be experienced in less time that it takes to watch an episode of Adventure Time. There are a grand total of two modes: Deathmatch and team deathmatch. In addition to the four characters that all pretty much play the same, there are 12 arenas, which are composed of variants on each of three main aesthetically differing maps. Most all of the arenas feel the same due to being based on simple top-down grid patterns. If you’ve played one match, you’ve played them all. Interestingly, there are a variety of misspellings and grammar errors in the trophy list, which are further indicative of the rushed and confusing feeling that this game gives off.
If it were a more robust experience, Basement Crawl could be a little gem. It’s a simplistic sort of time-killing fun that I would expect out of a cheap mobile game, but as a full featured PS4 title, it feels like there is content missing and a lack of polish. Add to that the confusing nature of what Basement Crawl is really trying to be, the lack of anything to capture interest past playing a few matches, and the multiplayer-only focus which will create limitations when few people are online playing, and you have a game that probably isn’t worth the space on your hard drive. You could wait for a sale, but even then, you’ll probably have something better to play.
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