Sometimes, dumb is good. The iPhone has its share of thought-provoking puzzles and character-driven adventures, but it’s also a great device for wasting time by spraying virtual bullets. Crimsonworld, a game that encourages you to paint the landscape with blood, is short, sweet, and as direct as a Gauss gun.
The story in Crimsonworld isn’t really necessary; it’s just a pretext for setting you up against waves of lizards and oversized insects. But we should at least mention that the beginning and ending narration seems to be from the point of view of the hate-filled monsters that you’re trying to kill. That’s funny, and we’d have enjoyed seeing more from the monsters’ perspective.
The game itself is not so complex. The main adventure consists of 25 quest levels, which are only a few minutes apiece, though they do spike in difficulty towards the end. We spent more time on the last six levels than we did with the 19 before them. You can also choose to play two survival modes, one of which seems to start you out at a higher level of difficulty.
I am the lizard king!
Whether you’re playing through a survival round or quest level, the action’s pretty much the same: Move with the left virtual joystick, spray hot lead with the right, and try to not to get eviscerated. Amusingly, your enemies leave a bloody stain on the ground once you’ve destroyed them.
Slain enemies will also drop useful powerups and a variety of weapons, provided you’ve unlocked them by playing through the game. The powerups include shields, bombs, and bullet time, while the guns range from typical real-world assault weapons to plasma guns.
As you level up, you’ll receive randomized perks, like in Solomon’s Keep. You can pick one of three random perks, but as soon as you’re done with the level you’re on, the perks all reset. Since several of the quest levels only last a minute or two, we would have preferred to build up our character more over time. However, the perks do stack satisfyingly in survival mode.
Crimsonworld has the shooter basics down, but we’d have really enjoyed seeing more variety and depth. Boss battles or secondary objectives like in Alive-4-Ever would help make this shooter feel a bit more substantial. If Crimsonworld is looking to be nothing more than the iPhone equivalent of a popcorn-ready, mindless action movie, we’re ready to call it a success.