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Game Info:

Reverse Crawl
Developed by: Nerdook Productions
Published by: Digerati Distribution
Released: September 24, 2015
Available on: Windows, Mac,
Genre: Turn-based strategy
Number of players: 1
Price: $5.99

 

Thank you, Digerati Distribution, for sending us this game to review!

Once upon a time there was a king, who ruled his kingdom happily. The only problem was that his daughter had a nasty little habit called necromancy. Then, one day, a neighboring kingdom invaded, and the king was killed. Fortunately, his daughter had a nasty little habit called necromancy....

That's the premise of the inventive strategy/role playing game from the one-man team at Nerdook Productions called Reverse Crawl. Your main character is the undead "revenant king," and you need to command your forces in an attempt to take back your kingdom from the diabolical Red Queen. At first your choices of troops will be limited to a few undead minions, but as the game progresses, you'll have the opportunity to get help from goblins, dark elves, renegade wizards and more. The Red Queen's forces include generic stock militia, but quickly expands to include named heroes such as bards, barbarians, clerics and more.

The game is divided into a series of chapters. In most of them you can choose one of three scenarios to pursue, but every so often there will only be one option, to advance the story. Each chapter has you choose one (or more) group of minions to fight against the opposing forces. There is some strategy in the troop selection, because some of your minions will do better than others. For example, you don't want to put any undead minions against the Red Queen's clerics, as undead are vulnerable to the cleric's holy powers. You command your units, one at a time, across a small field of hexes to attack your opponents. There are additional factors to consider, such as flanking bonuses, magic use, treasure chests and ranged attacks, but these are discovered through the events of the gameplay. 

Reverse Crawl
Highlights:

Strong Points: Cute graphics, fun storyline, clever gameplay, replayability
Weak Points: Some difficulty spikes
Moral Warnings: Heavy references to undead and necromancy

The cartoonish graphics are surprisingly cute, given the nature of commanding undead troops and other creepy monsters. The figures have squarish, blocky heads, that give them a funny appearance. The music is catchy as well, and the sound effects pretty solid. When enemies – or your own troops – are killed, they disappear in an explosion of sparks and clouds. Aside from the bones of your skeletal troops, there isn't a lot to worry about in terms of gruesome characters, even if you're commanding a horde of zombies to attack merchants. 

The only down side to the game that I've found has been the occasional difficulty spike. There are the occasional quests that get suddenly hard. They can be replayed if lost, but the enemies are often randomly generated, so some of the tactics that worked previously won't work the next time. Also, the trailers seemed to imply that this would be a dungeon crawl where you control the minions, which made me initially expect a game similar to the classic Dungeon Keeper. This isn't the case at all, but instead the game is a fun strategy game where you deploy and command troops, a lot like many other turn-based strategy games. The only other snag I discovered is that it seems like the game initially takes a long time to load, and sometimes feels like it may have frozen. However, waiting long enough will resolve the problem.

Reverse Crawl
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 88%
Gameplay - 18/20
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 8/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 84%
Violence - 7/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 5/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

The story can be completed in about six hours, but completion unlocks an endless mode, and a "new game+" mode with additional challenges. In addition to that, there are multiple achievements and three different endings to discover. The game encourages repeat playthroughs, as you can try to unlock different minions each time to see if a different approach is more effective. 

Aside from the prevalence of undead and magic use, there isn't much else to worry about on the moral front. There are no language issues that popped up (surprisingly, I don't think I even encountered the word "hell," even with the presence of demons in the game), there isn't any nudity or sexuality in the game, and there is very little blood (just a few flecks that can be found on a couple of the minions). It's a nice game where you command hordes of undead monstrosities!

For a mere price of $5.99, Reverse Crawl is a wonderful little gem that would be a welcome addition in any game library. Its replay value makes it a bargain, and its storyline is enough to keep you interested, but not so long as it feels like a grind to plow through. If you don't mind the presence of magic and the undead, this game is a fabulous purchase.