Publisher: Bloober Team
Developer: Bloober Team
In its current form, Basement Crawl is a complete and utter disaster. If the game’s Metacritic score of 28 (and 2.3 from users!) wasn’t enough to convince you of that, then the fact the publishers took the unusual step of issuing an open letter to everyone who bought the game apologizing for its many flaws within two days of its release should do the trick.
“In its current form”, though — those four words certainly complicate things, don’t they? Though technically, I guess, it’s more the open letter that makes evaluating Basement Crawl difficult. After all, it basically enumerates all of Basement Crawl’s problems, and promises that everything will be fixed. Endless wait times? A patch will fix that. Weird spawning issues? A patch will fix that too. Lag? Patch. No single-player, no tutorial, only two sets of maps? Patch, patch, patches for everyone!
I don’t doubt that some of what ails Basement Crawl can be fixed with a bit of hard work by Bloober Team. While I acknowledge that I don’t know the first thing about how all the backend stuff comes together, based on the fact every other game has solved issues like spawning problems, severe input lag and insanely long wait times, I’m willing to give Bloober the benefit of the doubt here. After all, they were responsible for both A-Men games on the PS3 & Vita, and even if neither was a masterpiece, they both, at the very least, worked. I’m a little more skeptical about how they’re going to fix problems like the total lack of matchmaking, or the fact you can accidentally drop into a match with seconds to go and have it counted as a loss — but again, the fact other online games don’t have these problems makes me think that, theoretically, this one will eventually be free of them as well.
Where I’m less willing to give Bloober the benefit of the doubt, however, is the fact that Basement Crawl is so fundamentally lacking in some core areas. As their letter noted, the game has no tutorial level, nor does it have any single-player functionality — like, you can’t even play the game against bots. If you have a few extra controllers you can try the local multiplayer, but if you don’t you’re at the mercy of the game’s online play — which, as we’ve already established, is sorely lacking.
Likewise, the game essentially only features two maps and four characters. Not only does this point to Basement Crawl being significantly undercooked before release, the lack of character choices makes things rather awkward when it comes to those rare occasions when you are able to muster up enough people for a full match. There were a couple of times where multiple people had the same character, which made it hard to tell who was who.
Admittedly, issues like these are minor compared to the massive, game-breaking ones that are listed above, and they, too, can be fixed with one of those magical, all-purpose patches that are apparently on the way. Still, they’re firmly in line with tha broader complaint against Basement Crawl, which is that it was released well before it was finished.
Of course, even once all of these issues and problems are fixed, the game faces one more huge obstacle: it’s hard to see it ever becoming any good, patches or not. My view of the whole thing may be coloured by how broken and unfinished Basement Crawl is at this point in time, but it’s hard to imagine a setting in which it amounts to anything more than a Bomberman clone that’s entirely lacking in content — unless, of course, the patches are so extensive that they amount to the game being wholly replaced by something entirely different…which, come to think of it, seems pretty plausible at this point.
With all those negatives, I feel like I should point out that Basement Crawl has one positive, too: it’s kind of creepy, at least at first. The game starts out with a sinister cutscene involving a voiceover from frightened child and a creepy-sounding grandmother, as the camera pans across a grotesquerie of terrifying toys. Even if nothing else that comes afterward lives up to that beginning, it still suggests that, somewhere deep inside Basement Crawl, there’s a good horror game deep inside.
Mind you, it’s really, really deep inside. So deep that, again, I can’t see how any amount of patches or fixes could possibly save the game. It’s possible that, one day in the future, Basement Crawl might be worth checking out, but at this point in time, I wouldn’t bet on it.