Basement Crawl Review: What? Why?

Basement Crawl Review: What? Why?In the early stages of a new console, there will be some misses among the hits. Basement Crawl, by developer Bloober Team, is that game for the PlayStation 4.

The gameplay is essentially a Bomberman clone that uses an evil toy motif as the guiding force. There is some semblance of a story, told in the CG opening, but it doesn’t make a lick of sense, and is never, ever mentioned again through the actual gameplay.

The player chooses one of four different “evil” toys and then chooses one of the two modes: deathmatch or team deathmatch (that’s it), and the match is on. If you’ve ever played Bomberman, you’ve played this game. The players pop on the board and then proceed to try and send bombs up or down a grid to blow up the other players. There are obstacles that can be blown up and there are different types of bombs or trip mines to use depending on the situation. That’s it. That’s the game.

The problems with Basement Crawl, apart that I don’t even understand why it’s called Basement Crawl, are myriad. It’s incredibly difficult to find out which pixelated toy is your character as there is actually nothing to differentiate your from your enemies, and by the time you respawn on the tiny gameboard, another bomb is most likely already heading your way to blow you into next week.

To be fair, Bloober Team has stated that their goal is to bring back local “on the couch” multiplayer gaming. The problem is Basement Crawl isn’t even remotely fun, and if I booted this up with three other friends at my house, I would soon be alone as my friends would have raced to their cars to get away from this abomination.

Multiplayer online with strangers doesn’t work for the same reasons that no other mode works either. The number of players expands to eight, and the board gets bigger to compensate, but it’s still too difficult to make out what is going on, and the matches are so short that by the time you do get your bearings, the game is over. Not to mention that with only four types of toys, eight players all but guarantees that some characters will be repeated and without nary a way to tell the difference, a team of four bears against four evil clowns is a mess. This might be intentional; to spurn chaotic gameplay, but it fails. What we get is a timed jumbled experience that is more luck of the spawn than any actual skill.

Some of the art direction, lighting effects and board layouts look interesting and darkly sinister, but unfortunately the tired and sometimes broken gameplay sinks the entire project.

Basement Crawl might have had good intentions at the very beginning on its inception, but somewhere along the way, it lost its way. It took a good week after launch for the game to even work as advertised, and finding other players to play is such a chore that matchmaking can and has lasted 15 minutes or more. That’s 15 minutes to play a few minutes of a match, only to get kicked back to the main menu to rinse and repeat.

The PS4 has had some incredible indie hits in its infancy, and it was only a matter of time for a game to come out that fails on virtually all fronts. Basement Crawl tries to be something more, but in the end, its destined to become a footnote in the early history of this console generation.

Basement Crawl was reviewed on PS4 using a code provide by publisher Bloober Team. It was released exclusively for PS4 on February 25, 2014.

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