Some games reach for the stars but fizzle before the finish. Others are happy with an easier to reach low orbit and stay there, comfortably. Crashland is definitely in the latter camp, and unlike its name suggests, it does not crashland in blazes of glory or otherwise. It maintains its course for the duration and provides a solid VR experience. And it’s f^&king horrifying.
Crashland takes a simple approach to its gameplay by not bogging you down with multiple modes or a great deal of customisation. You start your streamlined experience with a quick tutorial to get you familiar with the controls – there are several options to tweak to your liking – and then you’re thrown into the fire.
Each level starts with you having crashlanded on an alien planet. You have a set amount of time you must survive for until you are extracted to safety. The time varies but the levels are never too long, though I found the sweet spot for me was the three-minute format.
It’s not an easy time, mind you, and you won’t be sitting around twiddling your thumbs while waiting for the intergalactic AAA to come to pick you up. There are monsters. Lots of them. And they’re everywhere.
To aid in your survival, you get given two weapons. Locked to your right hand is your pistol, and on your left is your shotgun-style boomstick, which with a pull of the grip, doubles as your radar. This is essential as it will give you an early warning on the monsters’ location, as well as keeping track of your levelling up progression and the amount of time left in a level.
Progression is very simple. Kill enemies, get points. Kill lots of enemies, get lots of points. Once you reach certain milestone levels, you’ll unlock extra perks that will give you the edge in the later levels.
It’s slow progress, though, and you’ll be blasting hundreds of monsters to green pieces before you hit any meaningful milestone. You can ramp up the difficulty to increase the points-per-kill, thereby speeding up your progression. Though, the game on normal is quite difficult at the best of times – almost to the point of being unfair – so I don’t think I’ll be upping the difficulty myself.
If you find the normal mode too hard, there is the option to lower the difficulty to ‘casual’ mode, but this also lowers the number of experience points you’ll get, so progression will take a lot longer. It’s a balancing act and you’ve got to decide what you want from your time in the game, but it’s nice to have options that make you think twice. I tried on easy mode, and then I switched back up to normal because I didn’t want to spend so long levelling up.
Now, the monsters and combat. It’s by the numbers stuff, sure, and a little on the basic side. You don’t need to reload your weapons, though you will have to wait for some recharges. Getting further into the game gives you more power and perks as you level up, but early on in the game, I did find the combat to be a bit repetitive, especially as I was stuck playing the same levels over and over as I kept on dying. The difficulty is unforgiving and one small error could cost you dearly. I know. I spent one hour on the third level before kicking the difficulty down to the easiest setting…
You’re able to run around freely as well as teleport. And I know, most VR players scoff at teleport movement, but it does serve a purpose in Crashland.
Moving means surviving. Enemy space crabs, giant slugs, giant spiders, and much, much more will come at you without fear. You need to keep moving so that they don’t pin you down and eat you. Some enemies will keep you in place and damage you with an extended tongue. Others will trap you with giant space spider webs.
Teleporting is a much quicker way of avoiding death in Crashland. You can teleport quite far, meaning that you can cover more distance in a fraction of the time it would take to run there. However, teleporting is limited and you only get five jumps before you need to wait for it to cool down. I found teleporting was the key to my success as it put the most distance between me and the freakish monsters, giving me time to figure out what my next move would be or to recharge my gear. Take that tip with you.
I’m not normally one to be scared of creepy crawlies. My colleague Jeremy is terrified of spiders, and that’s why he’s not reviewing this one. But honestly, Crashland got a few scared squeals out of me, too. Turning around and finding a giant spider (or a flying worm…) towering above you is disturbing in any medium, and in VR it’s downright terrifying. For a while.
Eventually, I did get used to seeing oversized creepy crawlies running around me. After a while, they just became shapes that I knew I had to shoot at to get points so that my brain would get a little kick once my number goes up. And that’s fine. I still got the occasional fright, but at least I wasn’t uncomfortable for the entire time as I played.
Crashland VR is a simple wave shooter at its core, but unlike so many others, it’s elevated by its tense and unforgiving gameplay. The shooting mechanics are solid, the tracking is aces, and the gameplay loop is satisfying, but perhaps more so in small doses rather than extended play sessions.
Crashland VR Oculus Quest Review
Overall - Very Good - 7.5/10
Crashland VR is a solid wave-based shooter with a twist. It’s hard as nails but definitely worth the effort required to get the most out of the game.
There’s plenty of content and unlockables, but it’s still a really safe and simple game at its core.
- Challenging arcade-style gameplay
- Lots of levels and perks to unlock
- Runs well and looks decent enough on the Quest
- Simple to understand controls
- It can be overly difficult until you’ve unlocked a few of the better perks later in the game
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using Oculus Quest.