Crashlands ($4.99) by Butterscotch Shenanigans, LLC is a crafting RPG that is loaded with sass and awesomeness. If you enjoyed games like Minecraft Pocket Edition and Junk Jack X, then you’re in for a treat with Crashlands.
Crafting games have risen to extreme popularity in the past few years, which I would credit mostly to the success of Minecraft. However, my problem is that I never really got into them too much — I try playing them for a while, making some basic tools, weapons, and building blocks, but I eventually get bored or tired of the grind. So I was a bit skeptical when I heard such glowing praise for Crashlands, because I was just under the impression that it would be yet another crafting game. But because of all of the things I’ve been hearing about it, I decided to give it a go, and wow, it’s incredibly hard to put down, which is a big first for me and a crafting RPG game.
The visuals in Crashlands are downright some of the best I’ve seen for a game of the genre. It carries a super cartoonish aesthetic, but it fits in perfectly with the bizarre intergalactic setting and plot. The characters in Crashlands, including the protagonist of course, are beautifully rendered with natural movement animations. The different environments are colorful, lush, and rich in resources and lifeforms, and everything just looks incredibly detailed, especially your home once you start furnishing it. You can see the time in the bottom right corner, and the dynamic lighting of the game changes depending on what the current time is. All animations in the game are smooth and fluid, so I experienced no lag on my iPhone 6s Plus. The atmospheric soundtrack is whimsical and charming, which is just a delight to hear as you explore strange alien planets. And to top things off, the sound effects really make you feel like you’re living the dream of harvesting, crafting, and fighting strange alien creatures.
In the beginning, you’ll meet Flux Dabes, who is a galactic trucker just trying to do his job of delivering shipments to their intended destinations. Unfortunately, some bastard alien head menace named Hewgodooko blows up your ship and you’re forced to escape out of a pod with your robot companion. So you end up crashing on a weird, alien planet called Woanope, and must scavenge around for resources to survive until you can try and get back on your feet with your package delivery job. But as the story goes on, you’ll unravel something much more sinister, and it will be up to you to save the day and the universe. I mean, no big deal, right?
The controls in Crashlands are simple and easy to pick up after a while, and you should already be familiar with them if you’ve played crafting RPGs like this before. To move Flux around, just tap where you want to go, or keep your finger on the screen to move continuously. Along the bottom center of the screen will be some action slots that you can use as you gather resources or are in combat, and they fill up as you pick up consumable items or advance the story and get key things. In the bottom left, there will be buttons for accessing your character’s current inventory of equippable gear, quest log, build mode, and map. Since the world of Woanope is large and vast, there are telepads that you can find that act like waypoints, allowing you to warp there for quick access (you can also warp home at any time).
As you start out, you’ll have a basic workstation that allows you to craft some basic tools and other workstations that deal with specific materials. The best thing about Crashlands, at least to me, is the fact that whenever you build a new tool, such as a saw or pickaxe, the tool gets integrated right into your suit, so there is no need to switch while you’re out gathering. Just as long as you have the proper tool, go to a resource and tap on it to deconstruct it for materials. The auto-loot system is amazing as well, as I can’t tell you how many times I would miss something or have to walk back and forth to pick up each crafting material — Crashlands’ system makes sure you get everything without much effort, streamlining the whole farming process.
Like other crafting games, you’re going to have to build a workstation for each type of material that you can gather: wood, skin and bones, rocks, and more. As you discover materials, new items will be available in that workstation that you can craft, and there are many different schematics in the game (over 500) that you can find randomly as drops while you harvest, and your robot friend will teach you key recipes that are needed to advance in the game. The inventory in Crashlands is self-managing and infinite, so you just gather — don’t worry about limited stash space and having to store materials at home.
While you do not start out with a weapon, you’ll eventually get one by means of crafting. This does mean, though, that you’ll have to avoid those strange lifeforms in the beginning of the game, since they will attack you if you’re within range. The crafting system in this game is great, though, and another one of my favorite aspects. This is because each piece of gear you craft can get a random magical property (or not), and there are different levels of rarity, similar to popular RPGs like World of Warcraft and Diablo 3. Each weapon or piece of armor you make can be something really good or really crappy, but you’ll always get a different result. The element of surprise keeps me crafting, as I hope to make something better that increases my chances of survival when encountering bigger and badder monsters.
The battle system is pretty straightforward, though I wish that the controls were a bit better for it. To attack something, just tap it, and you’ll engage immediately, or you can wait until a monster spots you instead. From that point, you’ll need to read the enemy’s attack patterns, which can be pretty easy since the game shows where they are targeting or moving to in red. However, since the controls are just tapping around the screen, that means that you’ll have to be fast and furious with your taps if you don’t want to take any damage. I think this would probably be better on an iPad, because it does get a bit tiring even on my iPhone 6s Plus screen. The description also does not indicate if there is support for MFi controllers, but I can imagine that playing Crashlands would be infinitely better with a physical controller.
Large creatures also have the chance to drop eggs, which you can hatch in specific incubators that you can craft. Once you hatch the eggs, you officially have a new pet, and they can follow you around to aid in battle or you can harvest items from them, like milk and other goods. There are also items that you can make that let your pets grow and become even more powerful.
In addition to the insanely addictive exploration, crafting, and combat elements in Crashlands, there is plenty more to do because of the quest system. There are going to be many quests to complete for the main story, but a lot of NPCs you encounter are able to give you some side quests as well, so there’s never a boring moment in the game. The rewards for the side quests can be pretty good too, so I highly recommend you do them to see what you can get out of them.
While you’re trying to make a living on Woanope, you’ll want to make a place that you can call home, you know, other than a smoldering escape pod wreck. Using the materials you gather, you can use different workstations to craft floors, walls, doors, and plenty of other furnishings to customize your home. Floors and walls will keep lifeforms out, and give you safety. To create your home, just tap on the Build Mode button, select between floors and structures, and paint the ground with your finger. You can tap on items to stash them away again to rearrange everything. Floors are also needed while exploring to act as bridges to get you across hazards like water.
To top things off, Crashlands has an amazing cloud syncing service for your game saves. Just register or log in with a BscotchID (free), and your game data will be stored on their servers. This is important because Crashlands is also available on Steam, and with this service, your progress on iOS can be accessed through the Steam version, and vice versa. I love the game so much I will definitely be investing in the Steam version soon — this is just one of those games that will keep you busy for a very long time.
I’m still pretty early on in Crashlands, as I’ve only sunk in about 3 hours into the game so far. However, this is due to the fact that I love to farm and gather more materials than I probably need, but I love the incredibly humorous story so far, because the sass is off the charts. Plus, the graphics are amazing, the music is fantastic, and the controls are simple and intuitive, though probably better suited for iPads. The self-managing infinite inventory is a dream come true, integrated tools in your suit streamlines the entire process, and there is just so much to do, find, and craft. In fact, each time I pick up the game to check on something for this review, I am tempted to just sink another hour into it harvesting materials. And thanks to the BscotchID system, I will definitely be picking this one up on Steam.
I highly recommend Crashlands if you’re a fan of hilarious crafting RPGs. Even if you aren’t normally a fan of the genre (like me), I would still give this a try — you’re going to love it, I guarantee it.
Crashlands is available on the App Store as a universal download for your iPhone and iPad for just $4.99 with no in-app purchases. The Steam version is also available for Windows, Mac, and SteamPlay for $14.99.