Recently we took a trip across country to visit family and looking down the barrel of a 4 hour flight in cramped quarters is always motivation enough to power up the iPad and revisit the world of mobile games. We’ve written often about some of our favorites but so far had missed one notable (and high scoring) game from this year, Crashlands. So at the 11th hour as the flight was boarding and we desperately clung to the pathetic public WiFi the airport allowed cheap patrons like us, we quickly downloaded Crashlands, grabbed our belongings, jammed into the line of frustrated people boarding the plane, found our seat, and booted the game. 4 hours later, we weren’t ready to for the plane to land. We wanted more time to explore Crashlands.
Crashlands was developed by the adorably named Butterscotch Shenanigans and surprisingly productive Butterscotch Shenanigans. The studio is basically 3 brothers in St. Louis that focused largely on mobile games and, most importantly, spend a considerable amount of time and energy providing back to the game development community in lectures and how-to videos. Seriously, it’s hard not to like these guys but it helps the games are actually really fun to play.
The game itself is a top-down resource gathering brawler wherein your character, Flux Dabes, is a space truck driver marooned on a desolate planet after your shipment gets hijacked by an omnipotent alien called Hewgodooko. Designed for a touch screen interface, you simply click on the screen to send your purple clad hero hopping over to the destination. If you happen to click on a resource like a plant or item, he’ll pick it up. If you click on an alien, he’ll start attacking. The first few hours will no doubt be spent wandering this seemingly infinite wasteland scavenging resources and avoiding fights with deadlier aliens the farther you travel. Yes, you die fast and will die often but there’s no real penalty to death other than a few dropped resources.
At any point you can quickly warp back to your home base to launch the construction part of the game. Like Terraria or Minecraft, most of the game is unlocked by building newer and better widgets. The more you build, the more obscure of resource you’ll need to obtain. Yes, it’s very much a grind but arguably one of the rare examples of it actually working on a portable device. Even after you spend considerable time meticulously outfitting your character with the best weapons and armor possible, you’ll eventually discover this is just the first world. There are apparently 2 more full worlds to explore each with their own set of monsters, resources, and items to craft.
This is perhaps Crashland’s biggest sin. It’s honestly too long. HowLongToBeat reports that the game takes about 40 hours to complete. Sure there are hilarious NPCs and interesting quests to undertake along your way but your overall experience will be largely repetitive – find and kill alien, grab resource, build item, repeat.
It’s hard to fault a game for providing more gameplay than we expect though, especially since the developers do offer new monsters and items the entire way. It’s not a ground breaking game but it’s surprisingly good for an iOS game and easily should be in the top 10 lists for the mobile marketplace.
The stupidly simple interface and contextual controls that allows your character to attack a monster the exact same way you’ll cut down a plant or pick up a power up (just by clicking on them), work great on a mobile device. Combat is thankfully forgiving too as creatures telegraph their moves allowing you plenty of time to evade even without precise controls of a mouse or gamepad.
What doesn’t work
It feels like we’re looking a gift horse in the mouth but we could see how it does have too much content for some without really changing the formula all that much. As a casual experience, one we can pick up any time we’re traveling somewhere though, this game offers almost endless enjoyment and a continue sense of progress.
Overall: Buy it
If you’re limited to a mobile device for a long period of time, this should be your go to game, especially if you’re a fan of games like Minecraft or Diablo. It’s not better than the best console or PC games, but it’s one of the best iOS games we’ve seen.