Review: Basement Crawl (PS4)

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Title: Basement Crawl
Format: PlayStation Network Download (PS4) (1.6 GB)
Release Date: February 25, 2014
Publisher: Bloober Team S.A.
Developer: Bloober Team S.A.
Original MSRP: $9.99 (US), €9.99 (EU), £8.49 (UK)
ESRB Rating: T
PEGI: 12
Basement Crawl is exclusive to PlayStation 4.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy.

If I were describing this game to some Hollywood executives then it would have to be ‘when the Bomberman games meet Saw. It sounds like a crazy combination, but does it work well together?

Gameplay:
Just like Bomberman, this game isn’t for the solo player. In fact you can have up to four players on one PS4 or eight online! The goal is a simple one, to get more kills than your opponents by the time the round ends. You have the ability to drop, kick and throw your traps/bombs. You’ll find power-ups in some crates or later in a match they’ll occasionally appear scattered in the play area. Here lies the first problem, I struggle to distinguish between each of the power-ups and have no idea what I have at any given time. So what should be a skillful game of cat and mouse became a wait until someone accidentally kills themselves or an enemy.

What should be fun and frantic quickly becomes stale and frustrating, I had no clue who was in the lead and ended up running around collecting anything and dropping as many bombs as possible until the timer counted down to zero. I think back on some classic Bomberman battles with the wife and our friends and this game, sadly, doesn’t even compare.

With the noticeable lack of any kind of single player this game becomes less appealing. Even a few progressively harder levels against computer controlled players would have been very welcome. So considering my wife refused to play after a few torturous rounds, I may as well continue the gameplay experience in the Online/Mulitplayer section of this review.

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basement-crawl-girl-and-bearVisuals:
Decaying meat hanging from rusty hooks to a gigantic clown face are among the things that make up the scenery. All nine levels are themed in the modern-day grotesque and a purveyor of the macabre would feel right at home with this. The disturbing opening movie to this game is what really sets the tone and attempts to bring a reason to the insanity that follows.

You only get to pick from four monstrous characters and the only thing that differentiates them is a small colored health bar, so it can get confusing in the heat of battle. Then there is the dark and moody atmosphere which looks good but in a hectic multiplayer game it means that it has one major flaw: it’s dark. You can make out the arena but it isn’t as clear and focused compared to the classic Bomberman games. Each of the power-ups are confusing and I had no idea what any of them were.

To have a very unsettling theme for such a unique genre baffles me. I would have loved to introduce my entire family to a Bomberman style game but after watching the intro movie, even my wife was put off playing.

Audio:
There isn’t anything particularly wrong with the audio, but when you sit in an online lobby for five minutes, it gets slightly repetitive. Explosions sound a bit weak, your character’s death cry was almost funny and the music doesn’t have variety.

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Online/Multiplayer:
As I mentioned earlier you can have four player local ‘couch’ multiplayer and apparently up to eight online. Sadly I spent most of my time on a ‘Waiting for the game to start…’ screen with no visual indication that there were even other people waiting or joining. No count down timer of any kind meant I could have been sitting there for ages never knowing if the game would start. That isn’t even the worst part. When I eventually managed to get into a game with one other person, I noticed some bombs appearing randomly here and there, which I luckily avoided in time. As it turns out, I learned at the end of the match that there was a third player who had been playing the entire time. I just couldn’t see them!

I could only find one active game lobby, I guess most people have given up already. Online play could have been a strong selling point, but due to the bugs and lack of players, it is now the final nail in this game’s rotting coffin. I was told by the Bloober Team Marketing Manager that they are aware of some online bugs and are fixing them as quickly as possible. I held off on posting this review for that reason, just in case an update came out which sorted out at least some of the major issues, but nothing.

Conclusion:
I used to love playing Bomberman all those years ago and the idea of this game had such promise. Sadly the unnecessary adult theme narrows the potential audience. That, combined with the annoying online problems and indistinguishable power-ups, makes this a disappointing let down. If forced to find one redeeming quality with this game I would say the on-the-couch mulitplayer isn’t broken and a few select people might find enjoyment there?

At least we now know what happens when you mix Bomberman with Saw. A disappointing mess.

Score:
2.5

* All screenshots used in this review were provided by the publisher.

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  • Every time I heard of this game I always thought it was something like Outlast or Gone Home. Where you were alone trapped in a basement. Sounds like a better concept than what this game turned out to be.

  • Keith Dunn

    Wow! I think I had the lowest review score until now with Terraria at 4.5! YOU WIN! Or more like….lose….people think reviewing games is all glamor and fame. Not!

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