Life in the galaxy is difficult. And no one knows that better than developer Butterscotch Shenanigans. Their latest game, featured at this year’s PAX West show as one of the “PAX 10”, Crashlands, has you taking on the role of intergalactic delivery person Flux and his boxy companion, Juicebox. Together they must brave a world in order to secure their delivery or be forced to give up something most important to them; five percent of your pension. If you thought you could take this game as serious before now, that last line should have ended that thought for good. In what I consider to be an odd mashup of No Man’s Sky crashes into Don’t Starve, the game provided me with hours of fun.
The game opens with our characters, Flux and Juicebox en route to deliver three important packages. They are stopped by an alien being calling himself Hewgodooko, because in its own words that is his name. Turns out he needs a critical ship component and destroys your ship to get it. Our duo manages to escape, after a very humorous and informative tutorial segment disguised as a mad escape, they crash on Woanope. After a few snide remarks, the main story line begins. Build a transmitter powerful enough to contact your delivery company and complete your delivery or suffer lose of pension. Okay, so it’s not the direst of consequences, but can you blame them in this economy?
But no adventure would be complete without that most necessary of quests, the humble side quest. This planet has several aliens, all of them completely helpless to get anything accomplished without you. Some are simple one quest done missions while others are multi-step affairs needing you to walk back several times to continue to the next stage. Each does give a reward, but they vary. Some will simply give you any loot that you may have acquired on the trip while others may favor you with blueprints-plans for crafting helpful or at times cosmetic items. All are worth completing, however, if only to get a hilarious commentary from the characters.
The aspects that raise this game above others in this genre are the lack of inventory and dynamic enemies. The game sells itself on the fact that you’ve got enough to worry about: rampaging beasts, a strange purple alien and the lose of your pension! (Yes reader, you should prepare yourself for me to call back to that often.) The one thing that you don’t need to worry about is how much space you have left in your pockets. Items are retrieved and stored, but there is no worry about never running out of space. Due to this, the crafting system is also very player friendly as well. Stations construct items based on the material type i.e., a sawmill makes a product from wood and a skinnery for items from hides of the wildlife. You also make weapons, armor, and tools, which are also user-friendly in that they have no durability to worry about. Your weapons and armor also provide stat bonuses ranging from hit point increases, regeneration, and toughness for armor and damage, critical chance, and status effects for your weapons. Your tools are automatically selected for the task appropriate to them, so no fumbling for the right button either.
The second aspect is the dynamic enemies. You can’t simply stand about and tank their attacks. Well, you can, but you better have the defenses to take the attacks. Anything an enemy does is broadcast with a red area or line coming from them. This requires some reflex to dodge attacks, but the game does provide plenty of time to avoid it. The difficulty comes from that each enemy has multiple sets of attack and no pattern. Meaning you have to pay attention or take damage and likely die from some attacks instantly. The day and night cycle does influence the enemies, making them more likely to attack you.
While the game has several good points, it is all a bit too easy. I’ve died six times during the writing of this review and have suffered no consequences. There’s even a cosmetic item that you can build to commemorate your tenth death in the game. The lack of a penalty means you can continue to kamikaze the same challenge over and over again. I don’t believe that anyone would, but crazy things happen when you get salty. My final complaint is the randomness of the stats on items. I would like to know the general range of what I could expect from them. That way I know going in whether or not an item will have better stats or if I’m just making an item for looks. Note: never make equipment for just the looks.
Overall this is a fun casual game. If you like Don’t Starve, this a much more player friendly version of that. Players from Terraria and Starbound may also find some joy in this game as well, you can build a house if you want to spend the time. To give an idea of how much I enjoyed this game, I was actually having an incredibly bad day when I installed this game and within minutes, it improved my mood tremendously. That’s how fun of a game this was. So go out there players and preserve your pensions!