Crashlands is a fun and addictive crafting game developed by Butterscotch Shenanigans, a small indie team responsible for some great titles such as Towelfight 2, Quadropus Rampage, and Flop Rocket. The game features a massive procedurally generated world filled with unique hand-crafted elements and characters. Crashlands is available on iOS, Android, and even PC via Steam. This review will be based on the Android version, available on Google Play for $4.99. Some elements may vary depending on your choice of platform, but for the most part the developers have done a great job ensuring consistency across devices.
Your goal in Crashlands is to track down three lost packages for the Bureau of Shipping after crash landing on an alien planet. You play as Flux, a space-faring Bureau courier in charge of captaining the SS. BS. Assess (actual title), a Bureau cargo ship. Accompanying you is Juicebox, a sassy shipping robot in charge of ensuring Flux doesn’t screw up. Together, you will collect resources, craft tools, fight enemies, and do quests until you are powerful enough to defeat the dangerous alien creatures that stand in the way of your mission.
As I mentioned earlier, Crashlands features a LOT of crafting. There are hundreds of individual recipes to collect and craft spread across three massive biomes, with each recipe containing a large collection of ingredients to find. The Butterscotch Shenanigans developers put great systems in place to keep players from being overwhelmed by the sheer weight of all the available content. Your inventory is infinite, and it manages itself – no more wading through massive lists trying to make space for the important stuff. Loot is automatically collected after it drops, no clicking needed, and tracking recipes is a breeze. These key features make the crafting system easy and convenient, which is great considering how much time you will be spending with it.
When I say a lot of time, I mean it. The majority of your time will be spent collecting resources by smashing plants, fighting baddies, feeding pets, planting seeds, fishing, and combining ingredients. All of these features are fully fleshed out and full of depth, but that doesn’t stop them from slowly starting to feel like a big grind. Despite the impressive variety of collectibles and craftables you can experiment with in Crashlands, you very quickly begin to lose the sense of progression as you approach the mid-game. Part of this problem is due to the fact that as you discover newer and crazier recipes, your old recipes become obsolete. There is no reason to craft basic health potions after learning the more advanced ones, and new armor is usually unlocked before you have the ingredients for the set you’ve been tracking! Without unique stats and gameplay mechanics, recipes start to lose all value shortly after being unlocked. The grind-heavy crafting system alone would make for a somewhat lackluster game, but the abundance of great content it’s wrapped around more than makes up for it.
Crashlands is HUGE, and I mean HUGE! The scope of the individual biomes is so vast that you can walk in any single direction for an hour and still not hit a wall. Each biome is filled with procedurally generated content, and a large portion is populated with unique, hand-designed content as well. While the vast scale of the game does not help with the sense of grind, it certainly ensures there is content aplenty. There are a ridiculous number of creatures, collectibles, plants, and oddities to see. For a simple and casual mobile game, you are getting a lot of content and a lot of play time.
Where the game really excels is in its simple but challenging gameplay mechanics and its memorable story. Combat is as simple as tap to attack and tap to avoid. By tapping an enemy, you engage it in combat. When it attacks, a red area is highlighted, and you must tap away from it to try and stay safe, but still make sure to get some hits in. Each enemy has its own unique attack style with multiple attack patterns. Learning each one is the key to victory. Every enemy you encounter is also an unlockable pet that you can use in battle. While the mechanic is simple, it is very challenging and almost flawlessly built. The one area where it falls short is that the targeting areas can blend with similar colored ground and make it difficult to dodge (almost always a death sentence in just a few hits).
The story of Crashlands is filled with humor and character. You meet countless alien inhabitants along the way, each with their own multitude of side quests and storylines. While many of them devolve into boring fetch quests and mini-boss-like hunts, the dialogue and rewards involved still make it worth your while to see them through. The main story itself is very well written and worth the time it takes to experience. While for the most part it isn’t compelling or epic, the story is hilarious at every turn, and it is a main draw to the game. Many of the characters’ stories intertwine, and the overall narrative and spirit of each act is consistent and present in every cast member and every piece of text. Much of the dialogue is bizarre, outlandish, surreal, and even downright crazy, but never out of place. Not once did I find myself questioning the plot or the characters, but instead enjoyed the insanity of it all.
Despite the heavy grinding of the craft system, the occasional problem with the targeting system, somewhat daunting difficulty at times, Crashlands is a great game. It is filled with character and style. Simple, but well-made mechanics make this game easy to pick up and play but hard to set down, and the one of a kind story will give you plenty incentive to see it through. If you are a casual mobile gamer or even a hardcore gamer who needs something to enjoy on his phone or tablet for a quick break every once in a while, this game is worth a look.
*This was a review of the Android version of Crashlands.*
Sound: The minimalist soundtrack combined with extra squishy sound effects really fits the atmosphere of this game.
Graphics: A simple aesthetic that translates perfectly to mobile and looks great on the PC version as well. There's minor issues with the targeting system blending into the ground textures, but nothing game-breaking.
Story: A hilariously outlandish tale of shipping alien technology. Quirky but consistent — the highlight of the game.
Gameplay: A great combat system that provides the perfect amount of challenge on mobile. A great crafting system that unfortunately loses momentum towards the end. Great fun for a 20 minute break or a time waster on the bus, but I wouldn't recommend long play sessions.
Replay Value: After the story is exhausted, there really isn't much reason to play through the grind again. The game is definitely a worthwhile experience, but a one-time experience all the same.
Final Rating: 8/10. This is one of the best $5 purchases available on Google Play.
Crashlands is one of the best $5 purchases available on Google Play.
About The Author
Hey, Fudge here. I'm a game-loving pseudonymous blue 1-Up that likes to write about my experiences. I try to look at things without bias, but sometimes you've gotta view a game from different perspectives. Everybody has preferences, and I myself love me some old school JRPG titles, fantasy shooters like Borderlands and Overwatch, Action RPGs like Skyrim, and the Batman: Arkham series. I hope you guys like my reviews, news, and opinion features, and I'm looking forward to sharing thoughts and ideas back and forth!