Reverse Crawl is a turn-based strategic role-playing game developed by Nerdook Production and published by Digerati. Our story begins in a flourishing kingdom ruled by a great king, where everything is going great until one fateful day when our mighty king’s luck just runs out. Invaded by the ruthless Red Queen and slain on the very throne he sat; the kingdom fell into despair under her reign. Thankfully, the Princess was secretly a Necromancer and was able to fuse the king’s broken body together and he was reborn as the Revenant King. Dedicated to retake his throne, the duo sets out on a journey to recruit various allies and minions alike to bolster their armada. The Red Queen is a powerful foe and she will not go down easy. You must hone your skills and makes some powerful friends if you hope to reclaim the throne and restore your kingdom to its former glory.
Now, we all know that the reborn king and his daughter are a force to be reckoned with, as a deadly warrior and a powerful necromancer can be quite the combo, especially with the limited minions the Princess already has in her arsenal. However, they can’t do this by themselves even if they wanted to, I mean the king already lost once. You need to make friends; you need to make a lot of friends in fact, and fast. Now, this won’t be as easy as walking around the land and asking the nearest mercenary if he’s free this weekend. You must show dedication, passion, and the will to persevere in any situation. I am talking about direct combat to prove you are worthy enough to be accepted as allies with some of the deadliest creatures that populate the world around you. Don’t worry though, as you start amassing an army, the monsters may get more difficult, but the battles will be more rewarding.
Once you get the ball rolling and have some powerful friends on your side of the battlefield, this is when it gets interesting. The game is broken up into twenty-five chapters that tell your story, filled with victories and struggles alike. Each is filled with choices and most allow the player to choose one of three paths to follow and once completed, you are rewarded with three selections to better yourself for the next battle ahead. These rewards can include team upgrades, new units, and other special abilities. The combat was probably my favorite part of the entire experience. Once combat is initiated, you are allowed to choose up to eight different groups after they are unlocked. Luckily, if the nothing looks good to you, you are able to reroll the available minions three times per chapter, so hopefully, something comes along that helps you devastate those pesky opponents.
If you are like me and a creature of habit, you will find that certain ally that you just love playing and want to roll with it every time. Well, for better or worse, traits provide a sense of variety that make the player mix up their style from time to time. Most of the traits are positive effects and can provide a major advantage; however, sometimes you are stuck with some bad luck and your favorite monster is just not going to make the cut. While these attributes can be standard, they are as crucial as understanding the strengths and weakness, which are set in stone. For example, one of my favorite traits to see was known as Vicious and it allows your minions to take 15% more damage in exchange for starting with 10% less health. That boost in damage would definitely outweigh the negatives as long as it wasn’t on a lower-tiered minion. With the plethora of troops at your control, I am sure that you will find something that you fancy, whether it is the horde of zombies or the trio of mages led by the mystical Greybeard. I notice myself sticking with a couple of groups between my various playthroughs and really took a liking to the Spider Queen, the Flesh Golem, and the Wraiths. I found the Flesh Golem and Wraiths to do great damage and provide an excellent way to deal with damage to an area. The golem was not only equipped with a large health pool but also had a massive poison attack that happened at the end of every round. The highlights of the group of wraiths came from their life steal and adjacent attacks. Cornering yourself between a group of enemies may seem like an ending for you, but it is just the beginning as the wraiths slash their way through the entire fleet of enemy soldiers. Both of these creatures are equipped for large groups, but no one compares to our friendly neighborhood Spider Queen. She spawns in with an initial spider friend and on her second attack lays four eggs that will turn into random spiders after a round. This is a great way to build yourself up and quickly outnumber the opposition. I haven’t even talked about the Threat system that accompanies you throughout your playthrough. It is a simple system that contains consumables and various attacks in exchange for decreasing the threat level. Whether you need to heal yourself in a pinch or finish off a boss that just has a sliver of life left in him, it has you covered. Points are earned by killing adversaries and can be used at any time, even during the enemy’s turn.
The credits rolling isn’t the end of the experience, it is just a stepping off point to more content. Completing the story once will unlock both an Endless mode and New Game Plus. Endless mode is just as it sounds, you fight wave after wave of increasingly difficult enemies until you lose interest. The mode provides tons of fun, especially if you liked the combat as much as I did, but I felt that it ended up proving that the story strung together those awesome moments and without it, it just felt lackluster after a while. New Game Plus, on the other hand, provides the same awesome experience over again. While you may lose all your skills, you can choose any five rewards that you unlocked on your previous playthrough to start with. This allows you to start with your favorite group or that passive upgrade that just made you overpowered. It also doesn’t get stale as the game provides a sense of branching paths that come down to three different endings. Will you end up saving the kingdom or will you be brainwashed with all that power? Why not both?
A while back I reviewed another title from Nerdook Productions known as Vertical Drop Heroes HD. I really enjoyed my time with that game and remember the visuals being nothing less than phenomenal. This stays the same throughout this experience as I loved every moment of the hand-drawn picture book aesthetic that visuals embraced. This design choice allows the monsters to have a cuter appearance, but still, be menacing when they are destroying on the battlefield. Although they are not on the same level, the environments share this appeal and provide a believable world for our heroes to live in. The soundtrack was just as awesome as it provided a mixture of orchestral scores and medieval-themed sounds and instruments. I really enjoyed it, but still felt that it was behind the rest of the game.
In the end, Reverse Crawl was an amazing experience that everyone should at least try. The combat can be a bit slow at the beginning of the game, but it quickly becomes a fast-paced, strategic flurry of attacks as you try to keep yourself alive as long as possible. Priced at $13 USD makes this a no-brainer for me and I hope that anyone who picks this up feels the same way. It is truly one of the best experiences that I have played in a while.
*Note: A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of the review.
Final SCore: 9.5/10
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