Crash into me.
I normally don't pay much attention to IOS games due to their casual nature. Sure, it's fun to turn my virtual house into a pussy magnet while playing Neko Atsume or delving into relatively challenging titles like Lara Croft GO, but they don't hold my attention for long. That's why I'm pleasantly surprised with the unusual survival action RPG, Crashlands. Not only is this deep, genre-blending game a blast to play, but it also holds my attention for hours while simultaneously tickling my funnybone.
(*Cue overexcited narrative voice*) In a world full of weird creatures and ancient alien secrets, an intergalactic courier searching for lost packages becomes embroiled in a plot for world domination. Macho space pilot Flux Dabes was minding his own business when a psychoneurotic alien named Hewgodooko (relative of Pewdiepie?) attacks his ship. After crash-landing on the planet Woanope, Flux dons his Luche Libre spacesuit, activates his sentient juicebox sidekick, and sets out to find lost packages to complete his delivery.
This is no easy task, however, as Flux is out of supplies and every non-intelligent creature on the planet wants to see what our intrepid hero tastes like. His only chance for survival is to craft a wide variety of items out of the planet's resources and get help from whomever is willing. This is the basis for most of the quests in the game, which take the familiar form of fetching items, clearing areas of enemies, and doing favors for strangers. Fortunately, the constant humor and unusual aliens keep the unimaginative quests from becoming too monotonous.
Crafting is important in both survival games and RPGs, so it makes sense that it's a major component of this survival action-RPG. In Crashlands, crafting is similar to the carrot-on-a-stick crafting found in MMOs where players craft tools to harvest resources that let them get better tools and items to craft better resources, and so on and so forth. Unlike MMOs, this game lets players craft every item available as long as they find blueprints. With hundreds of crafting items that range from flooring and walls to various tools to weapons and armor, crafting new items is a constant side-quest that starts out strong but eventually becomes a slight burden. This is offset by the ability to go fishing, grow plants, and build small bases.
It's a good thing that combat is fun and exciting, and I'm surprised by how well it's executed on a touchscreen device. All enemies project a red area onscreen where their attack will hit, so players must dodge these attacks and then rush in to whack them with whatever deadly melee weapon they currently possess. At the bottom of the screen are four squares where players can place single-use weapons (like bombs) and healing items to use at any time. While combat may seem overly simplistic, some of the enemies pose quite a challenge. Players must also ensure that they don't draw the attention of nearby enemies during combat or else they'll be fighting multiple enemies at once!
Flux has unlimited lives, so dying is more of an irritation than a setback. All players have to do is return to their gravestone to collect all the items they lost when they died. This is made easier by using the numerous warp gates that are discovered in each area. Additional features that make gameplay flow faster is that there's no inventory management and you don't have to worry about food, water, or fatigue. In addition, the appropriate tool pops up when players tap on a resource so it can be quickly harvested. The same goes for combat as the best weapon is automatically used for fighting enemies. I also like how there is no limit to the amount of items and resources that Flux can carry.
While the visuals aren't cutting edge, they are colorful and vibrant and remind me of top-down PC games. All of the creatures and sentient beings that players encounter have an odd look to them, which adds to the humor. I also like the awkward way that Flux hops around while waving his weapon as it's funnier than the standard run. I never encountered any stuttering, hiccups, or problems of any sort during my time with Crashlands, and I played it on an ancient iPad 2. Due to the complex nature of this game, I suggest playing it on an iPad rather than an iPhone.
Crashlands swooped in under my radar and surprised me with its complex yet streamlined gameplay and laugh-out-loud humor. I tend to play it for longer stints than most portable games, and it has given me a reason to carry my iPad with me wherever I go.