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Crashlands on Steam

MSRP: $14.99 (Steam) / $4.99 (iOS / Android)

Platforms: Win, Mac, iOS, Android

Release: 1/21/16

When you have a backlog as deep as mine, most of the time, it’s easy to wait for a game to either show up in a bundle, or drop to a ridiculously low price.  It’s not like I have a shortage of things to play.   Most years, I pick up a very small handful of games at full price, and another smattering on small discounts. Crashlands was one of the latter – 30% off saved me a couple of bucks, but it still meant this was one of the few games I dropped more than $10 on this year.

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I’m playing on Exploration difficulty, because my hack and slash “don’t stand in bad” skills are … lacking. Yes, we’re going to go with lacking.  Combat in Crashlands is pretty much all about not standing in the bad.  Now don’t get me wrong, beating up the monsters is fun, but it’s probably the weakest part of Crashlands.

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See, I love wandering around a new place and collecting resources.  I like building stuff, and learning new recipes, and exploring tech trees.  Although it’s probably an unpopular opinion in this current climate of sandbox-y goodness, I like having direction while I do it. Which makes a quest-directed, crafting focused hack & slash RPG just about the most perfect game for me.  I’m finding it hits just about all the right notes – from the ability to collect combat pets, to being able to fast travel via map teleports, to the adorable NPCs, I’m really just loving every minute of it so far.

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I think quite possibly the most revolutionary thing that’s been done here is that the developers have given you a limitless inventory.  No need to go back to base every five minutes to dump your stuff in boxes.  No need to constantly be crafting or purchasing larger bags.  If you can pick it up, cut it down, or kill it for parts, you can carry it.

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Weapons and armor are rolled with random qualities and stats.  Nothing quite like starting a game with an epic sword!  Min max-ers can delight in recrafting things over and over until you find just the stats you want.  For me, playing on the easiest difficulty, I find as long as I don’t go too crazy trying to take on things far bigger than my current gear level, it’s not that important.

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Crashlands is a little bit of everything, all tied up in a cutesy, punny package.  And where it succeeds so delightfully for me is exactly how it might fail for others.  If you hate the whole mechanic of questing, well, you’re going to find yourself up against a brick wall, because many recipes only unlock as part of quest chains.  It’s nearly impossible to “overlevel” the monsters you have to kill in order to progress.  Because it’s such a tidy, coherent game, it doesn’t always feel like it’s adaptable to alternate play styles.

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Crashlands is also available for iOS and Android, and if you choose to create a free account, you can sync your saves between devices. I’m not sure I’d be comfortable with the combat mechanics using a touch screen, but I have seriously considered picking up the mobile version for my tablet so I can add to my bottomless stock of resources while on the go.

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It’s a rare thing that I regret NOT paying full price for a game, but with over forty hours of content, decent replay value due to randomly generated maps, and more really cool features than I could shake a stick at, the $15 asking price is a steal.

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