'Basement Crawl' review -

Tuesday, 04 March 2014 11:32 AM Written by 

BCrawlSometimes the simplest games are the best: “Tetris,” “Portal,” “Flappy Bird.” Then there are other times when simple games are hollow voids that don’t offer any new concepts or enjoyable gameplay. “Basement Crawl,” the downloadable PS4 game from indie developer Bloober Team, is an example of the latter. If it were available in physical media form, the basement would be a good place for it.

“Basement Crawl” begins with an off-putting intro of a grandmother talking to her granddaughter, whom she’s apparently holding captive. The little girl wants to see what lies outside. The grandmother quells her requests, explaining that horrible things wait for her outside. This is the beginning and the end of the “Basement Crawl” narrative.  

It has nothing to do with the four playable characters. They’re never mentioned. The grandmother and granddaughter aren’t actually in the game. It acts as nothing more than a filthy welcome mat to the decaying world of “Basement Crawl.” This disconnect fits with the game’s overall lack of cohesion.

There are four characters to choose from in this violent vision of classic “Bomberman” gameplay: a creepy clown, a wheelchair-bound crash test dummy, a teddy bear who is missing some parts, and a morbidly obese woman, and each less charming than the last. Each character has slightly different attributes like speed, shield, power, etc. The game consists of these characters running around trying to blow each other up by planting bombs or special objects that can be found scattered around the map.

Stage maps are a grid, just like “Bomberman.” Different levels can be picked that very slightly alter the grid layout, or background.

If the above info doesn’t suggest that “Basement Crawl” is an uninspired mess, the lack of features that are standard in most of today’s games surely will. Don’t expect a single player story. It’s not there. Don’t expect a training ground. It’s not there. Don’t expect multiplayer matchmaking, the ability to change match time limits, kill limits, or really the ability to alter any part of the gameplay. Because you can’t. There are two modes: free for all and team battle. Have fun. Multiplayer does have a ranking system for its eight-player online play, but what’s the point without a matchmaking system?

And then there are the bugs. Characters occasionally got stuck where they stood. One disappeared from the stage completely. The game doesn’t even work properly.

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“Basement Crawl” comes with a what-you-see-is-what-you-get attitude, and what you see can be fully absorbed after about 20 minutes. If you paid the $10 price for that 20-minute value, you have a right to be angry. “Basement Crawl” is the worst type of game: it copies a tired formula without even attempting to invent a new spin. It gives players zero control over match variants. It shoddily throws on an ultra-violent, horror game wrapping to hold its hollow innards.

A basement is a room built well below the good stuff to hold a bunch of junk. The name “Basement Crawl” is appropriate.

 

2 out of 10

Pros:

Includes couch co-op

Cons:

No control over matchtypes
No matchmaking
Ultra-violent theme lacks charm
Buggy

 

 Platform    PS4 (PSN)  
 Price  $9.99 
 Rated  M for Mature  
 Release Date  2/25/14

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