REVIEW: Reverse Crawl

Marching from the north, the Red Queen finally reached the castle gates and slew the king, taking the throne of the kingdom. His daughter, a dark magic practitioner, performed a ritual to bring him back as an undead creature. Now the revenant King and his princess will gather forces to eliminate the Red Queen and take back the throne! Yes, sir. This could be the plot of any Game of Thrones season. But this is the storyline for the new title from the Malaysian one-man studio Nerdook Productions, Reverse Crawl.

In this a turn-based strategic RPG where you will fight the Red Queen heroes throwing at them skeletons, goblins, orcs, and many other minions to stop their plans and dethrone her! First published by Digerati for PCs in 2015, the game now receives a port to Xbox by the hands of Stage Clear Studios (the studio behind Yesterday Origins and Super Black Jack Battle II Turbo). And now you will have the opportunity to rally your troops and face the Queen’s army. For vengeance… I mean, for the kingdom!

This is the King, before the Red Queen arrived
  • Have I seen these graphics before? If like me, you think you have already seen these visuals before, you’re probably right. This is true if you have already played Vertical Drop Heroes HD or Monster Slayer, at least, because the colorful and beautifully hand-drawn graphics from Reverse Crawl are the work of its designer (who also is responsible for the coding, art, animation) Sim YC. And I take my hat off to the world and characters he created: they are all well-constructed (well, not all of them, but its majority) and have great animations and hilarious facial expressions, creating a visually simple, but interesting and unique world to contemplate and dive into while your adventure unfolds.
  • The magic of the gameplay: This is where the game really shines! There’s some probability those of you who have been reading my reviews here at Life is Xbox in the last two years know how much I love RPG and strategy games. And here is Reverse Crawl, mixing these two genders together in a fast-paced style that’s at the same time deep and easy to understand. The battles take place in a map composed by hexagons, where characters (friends and foes) take action one after another. What actions you can perform depend on what kind units you are controlling: some can move and attack, while others can cast spells or use special abilities like heal the team or summon more minions to fight by your side (we will take a deeper look at them later). If you manage to defeat the enemy team, you will fight a new group of enemies until they run out of replacements: when it happens, you win the battle and can advance in the story. But if your group is defeated, you’ll have to select a new group with traits more adequate to defeat these enemies. There’s a random chance this new group can be under the effect of random boosts or reductions in its status. If that’s the case, you can shuffle and redrawn your options counting with your luck to have better options this time. When you run out of replacements, you lose the battle. The secret to achieving victory here is to select the correct group of followers according to what the Queen’s army throws at you: If they are using ranged units, use units effective against ranged units; if they are using armored unities, focus on unities that can deal damage and ignore their armor. I’m sure you got the idea here and will do well. To help you, every time a new enemy unit appears, one of your characters will give you some hints about the best way to defeat them.
  • Your loyal minions: It is not Despicable Me, but your minions play a major role in this game. After each chapter you finish, you can select one of three upgrades that usually include unlocking new abilities for your units, improving their status or unlocking a new group of troops with different characteristics. My tip here is to unlock as much different groups as possible or to focus on upgrading and giving new abilities to the groups you use more frequently – or anything between one and another since both worked just fine to me.
  • Upgrading your units: Besides the upgrades already mentioned you can pick after each battle, there are two more ways to make your troops more powerful. And trust me: to be able to defeat the Red Queen, you will need the most powerful goons in all the kingdom. As you progress in the story your character’s status increase giving them more attack power or HP to endure longer battles. But you can also buy new abilities in one of the upgrade trees the game offers: Necromancy, Warlord, Magus, Saboteur, Marksman or Beastmaster. Choose the one that better suit your playstyle and go get her, tiger!
  • Different storylines: I love when a game gives you choices and these choices take you to different outcomes. And Reverse Crawl employs this mechanic with mastery, making each one of your gameplays unique! Thanks to the choices you do at the beginning of each of its 20-something chapters, you gain access to new troops, skills, abilities culminating in three different endings, granting considerable longevity and replayability to the game.
  • Audio: No, I haven’t forgotten about the audio. And neither did Nerdook Productions. The game presents some very good songs and sound effects, with a special mention of the ending sequence: a very nice and cheerful song.
Don’t get confused: in this game you play as the monsters!
  • Turn order: Your characters and enemies take turns one after another, but it’s hard to figure out their sequence. A list or bar showing the sequence of characters (or a simple ‘who’s next’) would help a lot in planning your actions.
  • I want more: After finishing your main quest, you will have access to an endless mode and the new game+. In which you can start your adventure with a few upgrades already active. But I wanted more. I wanted more challenges, more adventure, more things. I can say that’s the bad part for doing such a great game: having your audience wishing for more.
The Princess and her brave father

Where’s that unity? I have a single complaint about the game: in the battle screen, sometimes it’s hard to correctly select your target or units. Many times I found myself trying to pick a target and ending up selecting the wrong one. I believe the movements on the grid could be better mapped in the left stick, leaving the upper buttons and digital pad to select your skills and abilities. But don’t worry: this is only uncomfortable, but it won’t harm your experience with the game.

Choose your group of minions according to the challenges you will face

CONCLUSION

Score: 86%
I love when a game surprises me. Yes, you may have read this same phrase in my last review, but that’s how I felt after playing Revere Crawl: surprised and impressed! Surprised about how the studio Nerdook Productions was able to mix two different genders that are usually deep and complex into something simple and easy to learn that keeps at the same time your interest in understanding and tweaking it to get the most of it! And impressed with the overall quality of the game, which is fun and very addictive. I can easily recommend it for any player who enjoys a good strategy game, but I’m going beyond and recommending it for anyone who enjoys a good story!

Developer:  Nerdook Productions   Publisher: Digerati
Played on: Xbox One X Also available on: PC, PS4, Switch
Time to beat: Less than 10 hours for the three endings and 1000 Gamerscore
Achievement difficulty for 1000 Gamerscore: Not that difficult. Just try to keep track of all your quests not to lose any missable character  
Perfect for: Strategy and RPG fans. Those who aren’t afraid to try something different and have a lot of fun with it
Xbox Game Store link: Click here

Written by Rafael

Writer for LifeisXbox

Between an Excel spreadsheet and trying to conquer the world (one game at a time), he’s ready to share his experiences about every title he plays. Be it to praise a game or to bash it, you will always find an honest opinion in his texts.