Simple but entertaining roguelike that may not be a GOTY but can take a few hours of your time if you are into this kind of games.
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Crimson Keep does a terrible job of recapturing dungeon crawler magic. Instead of using randomization in effective ways, it just prolongs its runtime with padding, terrible visuals, and audio issues.
I generally try to give every game, the benefit of the doubt, firmly believing that not every game, is going to be for everyone, others may thrive on this sort of hardcore difficulty, I do not.
Despite its issues I kept on plugging away at Crimson Keep, not just to review it, but because it feels like if I can just figure out how to work around its shortcomings there's a great dungeon crawl waiting to be found.
Crimson Keep is unplayable.
I'm sure the developers of Crimson Keep had a clear vision of a fun dungeon crawler in mind but what they actually made is one of the worst games that I've played in a long time.
I personally think despite crimson keep being released already there is still a lot of work to be done on it to ensure it’s not a broken game, they need to fix their game so you don’t crash, they need to give you better chances of having food, and health to ensure you can survive that little bit longer otherwise you’re going to get bored real fast of doing the same exact stuff, I guess if you’re lucky enough to get past a certain point it won’t be so bad.. that is until you get crashed to the main screen over and over again. Co-op would really help this game, two people playing would make it a hell of a lot more fun than one person playing, dying a few hundred times and then moving on to the next game, Merge games have stated they have no plans for a co-op within crimson keep but if they get desperate enough for players I’m sure they’ll soon drag their feet back and create a mode for this. The game would be amazing and has so much more potential if it wasn’t a broken game, so I will not be giving any form of award for this.
I have to say that I really didn’t enjoy any of my time with Crimson Keep, all I got from it was Crimson Mist as it just made me mad with frustration, I really can’t bring myself to recommend the game in any way.
Crimson Keep has very few redeeming qualities. The reflective light effects on the monsters look great, the procedural generation means that each new run is different and the music is pleasant enough. That’s about it. Roguelike purists that can dedicate enough time and effort to overcome this game’s hefty challenge might get a kick out of dying repeatedly here – but in a genre that’s becoming ever more accommodating and innovative, the luck dependent progress, sluggish combat and deeply punitive nature of the game feels archaic compared to its modern day peers.
The focus on roguelike design, letting a relatively small amount of assets turn into a lot of game. The fact that there's no mid-game saves, because that sort of longer-term multiple-session play wasn't needed and would complicate the design. The little touches of things not quite refined, like how I can hear room tone in the relative handful of voice acting clips. Hell, the fact that the intro cut scene only plays the first time you play, with no way I found to start it up again. Or the hidden shield in the tutorial area, just tucked behind a rock without collision detection. If this is the work of newcomer devs, then it's a really interesting first piece. There's a lot of neat ideas here: I like the fact that a lot of the Berserker and Witch unlockables actually require some degree of success with the other class, thus forcing you to differentiate on playthroughs. It just...needs work, as a commercial product.
The enemies stand out to me and are genuinely creepy. The designs are solid, and I think this is the true winning point for Crimson Keep. It helps that the combat is not too hard or too easy. Admittedly, it takes a bit to get used to the style of combat as there is no aggressive block; instead, a dash.
All in all there may be an audience of some sort for Crimson Keep since there’s nothing quite like it on the system. However, a lack of competition doesn’t excuse the shortcomings and ho-hum gameplay it ultimately offers either. It’s a game you can play for a bit, and perhaps get some enjoyment out of if you’re determined, but it’s ultimately just thoroughly unsatisfying and not much fun in any meaningful way.
Crimson Keep is a game that just doesn’t have the right focus on any area it aims for. It’s filled with roguelike mechanics that don’t really fit the genre in a meaningful manner, first person combat that’s partially broken and just clunky, and RPG lite elements that come off amateur and unbalanced. For any of these targeted genres, there are just better games out there on the Switch for this $19.99 asking price.