Crashlands Review - Mobile Crafting Survival Perfected

Simplified and streamlined, Butterscotch Shenanigans delivers a masterpiece.

Crashlands Feature
Butterscotch Shenanigans
Was this page helpful?

Crashlands has been on my radar ever since I saw an incredibly early version at Game Developers Conference in 2014. It showed promise then, and the game has made significant progress even while the developers at Butterscotch Shenanigans have gone through great personal strife. I knew there was the potential for something great here. And lo and behold, Crashlands manages to be the first great game of 2016, and an absolute must-play.

The Details

On the surface, Crashlands is a survival crafting game, akin on the surface to something like Don't Starve. It immediately diverges by boasting a futuristic theme with goofy humor and a wacky aesthetic. It's what you'd expect from other Butterscotch Shenanigans games, such as their excellent action-roguelike Quadropus Rampage. You run discover this strange new world, go on quests, collect resources, and generally try to stay alive. Crashlands, however, functions a lot more like an action-RPG or a loot-driven game, as death isn't that punishing: make your way back to your grave and you get everything you lost back, at least in the normal game mode. Leveling and progression are driven by the items that you craft, with quests done to help get new recipes that make you stronger and hit harder. It's not so much a survival game as much as it draws influence from them.

Streamlined Approach

Crashlands eliminates a lot of the archaic cruft that tends to permeate survival-crafting games like this.

Your inventory space is infinite. You can track a crafting recipe's needed materials with ease. You don't have to switch between dissimilar tools; if you tap a creature or object, the protagonist Flux will bust out the proper utensil automatically. Even your tools don't break. For someone just wanting to enjoy the process, it's a welcome feature.

 The game justifies this in part due to its futuristic setting and the technology it brings. But things like swapping to the best tool automatically, and recipe tracking? These conveniences help to make this game feel a lot more intuitive than other similar games. I can only hope that other games start to adapt some of Crashlands' innovations. The advances make it easy to sink hours and hours of time into this game.

User-Friendly Through and Through

Crashlands' user-friendliness extends to how the game guides you. You're free to explore and do whatever, and it's recommended so that you can figure out where things are.  It helps a lot to craft signposts to track where certain creatures and element deposits are.  The mission system gives you easily-trackable guides for where you need to go and what you roughly need to do. The game strikes an impressive balance between holding your hand through the land you're exploring and getting out of your way to do what you want.

Easy Interface

Combat uses just single taps and is perfect for touch. Tap an enemy to attack them, tap an item on the bottom bar to use it and ready it for attack if need be. You have to deftly maneuver to avoid enemies, but the game optimizes its controls and systems to make this easy to do.

You're rarely fighting the game. The map system is a bit clunky, as you can't tap and scroll around, using virtual arrow buttons to maneuver around it, with a button to place down a waypoint. That minor issue registers as my biggest complaint with the game and how it operates, though.

No End In Sight

Crashlands provides several different biomes to work through with hundreds of quests. You could play this game for dozens of hours to completion. That's without touching the different difficulties, from an easy exploration-focused mode, all the way up to an extreme difficulty that will test you at every turn.

There's so much to do and to explore that you're going to get your $4.99 worth out of this game.

Crashlands is a small download of well under 100 MB. It's doing a lot with limited resources, as it is a battery hog. Have a charger at the ready for long sessions. If you need to jump to another device, the game supports cloud saving through the Bscotch ID system, which also links in to other Butterscotch Shenangians games, and has unlocks in those various other games. But the coolest part about the cloud saving is that it manages to work across not only Android devices, but operating systems. Buy the game on Android, iOS, and PC, and log in with the same Bscotch ID, and you can play the same save file on each system. You can manually sync your save from the pause menu and manage cloud/local saves from the main menu. It's a miraculous feature

You need to play Crashlands. It's the first essential game of 2016, and if it somehow isn't on end-of-the-year lists, then it'll have been an absurdly great year for mobile. There's a reason it was the number one game on our most anticipated games list. If you love crafting games, hate crafting games, no matter what your opinion, you need to give Crashlands a shot.

Crashlands is available now on Google Play.