Beware of heavy metals.
First-person shooters have kind of gone full circle. We reached a peak with the explicit attention to detail of the Far Cry series and the realistic mechanisms employed by the ARMA brand. In response, developers have reverted to simpler shooter tropes, more arcade-like gameplay, and deliberately outdated visuals. Many newer games have taken this approach, and Crimson Metal is yet another entry in this expanding sub-genre. Does it succeed in reigniting the glory days of FPSes or does it miss the mark?
The story, insomuch as there is one, involves a certain Adam Crimson, who is the sole survivor of an elite counter-terrorism squad sent in to investigate and eliminate a secret facility researching biological and cybernetic weapons. Adam’s team found themselves in a trap, and at the mercy of the facility’s soldiers and horrific experiments. It’s not exactly Shakespeare at play, but hey, it’ll do as an excuse to run around in dingy corridors and shoot ugly creeps in their faces and nether regions.
A Shot Or Two In The Dark
One of Crimson Metal‘s best features is the level design. There’s a good degree of three-dimension construction at play here. Navigating is fairly intuitive, none too labyrinthine, and best of all, players are encouraged to explore in order to obtain extra goodies. Upon a second and third play through of the first few levels, I kept finding more hidden rooms and stashes of items in the air vents.
And then there’s the difficulty. Oh man, the difficulty. It’s by no means the most difficult shooter you’ll ever play, but it’ll definitely present a challenge. At first, it may seem like the easiest game in the world: you begin with a fairly powerful gun, and a whopping 1000% health. However, it’s not long before you realize the enemies are more than proficient at chipping away at your health and can quickly overwhelm you from multiple angles. The worst offenders are the hit scanner enemies with guns, while the later mutant enemies, who lunge at the player and utilize melee attacks, are tough but considerably easier to deal with. These are the best parts of the game, as the shooting enemies sometimes feel a bit cheap; they almost always shoot first, and it’s a very common occurrence to walk into a room and be blindsided on all sides with oppressive fire.
A Crimson Letter Day
The biggest problem with Crimson Metal is the engine utilized in its creation. It was made in the FPS Creator engine, and while it shows a high degree of competence in both the program and game creation in general, it unfortunately shows a few cracks. A lack of an options menu is a very serious omission, meaning that key bindings, screen resolution, and assorted graphical effects can not be tweaked or customized. Additionally, the game also suffers from infrequent crashes. A patch has been released which makes crashes less frequent, but it’s still a glaring problem.
The visuals and music of Crimson Metal are a bit on the rough side. While there’s certainly a strong degree of artistry in the models and textures, most of it is bland and lacking in effects and polish. Again, the limits of the engine come into play; it displays competence without rising above being adequate. With some proper post-processing, everything would look fantastic. However, the game does excel in creating a really dark and gritty atmosphere. There’s lots of rust, burning orange light, and old, dried-out blood to compliment the industrial setting. Unfortunately, the sound effects aren’t particularly interesting and the music is, for the most part, forgettable. Nonetheless, if it hits your fancy, you may be pleased to know that the soundtrack is available for free as a separate download.
Crimson Metal is an admirable effort to create a fun, engaging, creepy, and functional first-person shooter with an eye towards all the various concepts that made games like Doom great. It is unfortunately hampered by the choice of engine, with various technical and visual shortcomings that stop it just short of being an underrated classic. But, behind it all is a perfectly competent shooter from the mind of a developer with a ton of potential. I look forward to their future endeavors, because Crimson Metal is indeed a showcase of undeniable talent. As it stands, it’s good shooting at a budget price, and I don’t hesitate in suggesting that you shoot on over to its official Steam page to grab a copy that you may call your very own if you’re a fan of old-style, challenging FPSes.
Final Verdict: 3/5
Available on: PC (reviewed); Publisher: Madbox Entertainment ; Developer: Madbox Entertainment ; Players: single-player. ; Released: 4th of May, 2017.
Full disclosure: this review is based on a review key for Crimson Metal given to Hey Poor Player by the publisher.