Crawl doesn’t exactly bring much to the table, though it’s definitely fun with friends. We can’t knock it for trying.
Great party games are everywhere, nowadays. You have your “Monday Night Game Show” in Jackbox Party Pack, while Mario Kart has “Go-Kart Simulator” down to a science. As of April 2017, pixelated indie Crawl has joined the fray, in an attempt to become the champion of “Competitive Roguelikes.” It puts up a good fight, but overall, feels a little lacking.
Crawl has a simple premise: one player is a lowly explorer, trying to level up and escape a dungeon. Enemies are fought, items are bought, and floors are explored. As the hero marches on, the other three players are spooky ghosts that can inhabit various items and enemies in every room. Once one ghost kills the hero, a sudden role reversal takes place: the specter’s “humanity” is restored, and he’s the new explorer. The old warrior is now dead, and joins the other ghoulish players in their attempt to murder the valiant star.
Once a hero hits level 10, a giant portal activates, and can transport the brave traveler to the dungeon’s exit. One lone being stands in his way of glorious escape: a large boss monster, controlled by all three dead friends simultaneously. Victory in Crawl will mean freedom, but death means that one of three escape attempts is wasted.
…Besides the fun action and real-life name-calling, Crawl is sorely lacking in content.
The title has a very quick flow to it, as each player competes in hopes of being the first to escape. In order to succeed, they’ll need to upgrade the dungeon’s monsters and buy new hero items. Yet besides the fun action and real-life name-calling, Crawl is sorely lacking in content. After about three playthroughs, you’ll have seen most everything the game has to offer. It makes the experience feel like a rushed Early Access title, more than anything.
You may not be clamoring to play Crawl every second of the day, but it’s certainly fun with friends. Backstabbing a buddy just to be screwed over minutes later is truly a blast, even if the game is lacking in monsters and bosses with which to do so. In the end, Crawl is a fun, niche title to pull out at small gatherings, but not much else.