A game that merges a cute and colourful aesthetic with a singularly brutal approach to existence, Crashlands has evidently been crafted with a sense of humour.
You play as an intergalactic delivery driver by the name of Flux Dabes. You are on a delivery when you, your precious cargo and your trusty robot sidekick JuiceBox get attacked by a monstrous alien entity known only as Hewgodooko. The floating purple head wrecks your ship and leaves you stranded on a random planet in the middle of nowhere.
It is up to you to use the resources that you can scavenge to build yourself somewhere to live until you can fix your ship and continue with your journey.
Crashlands is designed in a bright, charming way, with cute animations that stand completely at odds with the savage wasteland in which you find yourself.
The game is set to eerily calming music, which makes for quite a relaxing experience. You are given the freedom to explore the world at your own pace, with the story as dictated by the maleficent Hewgodooko happening distantly around your own growth. If you want, you’re welcome to do nothing but collected grasses until you’ve built yourself an entirely thatched palace.
This means that there isn’t a lot of tension to this game, but it doesn’t feel like there is really supposed to be.
Instead, it’s got a decent sense of humour. Between the silliness of an antagonist named Hewgodooko and the fact that you can find “baconweed” growing in the wild, it’s not the kind of game that you’re supposed to take too seriously.
Crashlands is a difficult game to fail at. It’s fairly easy to collect resources and craft increasingly complex building materials and protection and weapons. Even if you do happen to get defeated in combat by one of the more aggressive members of the local wildlife, you’ll respawn fairly quickly and you can teleport across the map if you do end up too far from home.
The emotional connection you make to your little homestead almost comes unexpectedly. The time investment you put into it, not to mention the conscious decisions to use up your precious resources hand-crafting personal decorations, leave you feeling like you’ve created something truly your own. You might even find yourself bonding with an alien monster if you’re lucky enough to find and hatch an egg.
When you stop to think about it, some elements of Crashlands are quite silly, but in an entertaining way. The ridiculously over-the-top villain with at best shaky motivation is definitely a laugh. It’s light-hearted and generally charming and easy to fall into when you need to escape the planet you’re stuck on.