Crimsonland [Steam store page]
Although this is better than most bare-bones arena shooters, it still has some of the major flaws of the genre - like enemies spawning out of nowhere rather than at the edges of the screen or obvious spawn points. This one does have spawn points too, but they mostly serve as hives that continue to spawn unless you destroy them - just adding extra enemies to those that would normally appear.

There are also some splitting enemies that don't pause when they split, and move just as fast as you do. So normally you would shoot an enemy in the face to buy some breathing room, but with these you're just suddenly facing twice as many enemies - just smaller and harder to hit. If they paused for a moment as they split it would be fine, but it's a bit overpowered as it is.

These two flaws mostly matter because you have to get through a level with absolutely no damage if you want the star, and that's hard enough to do already since the AI is pretty good. They move in different patterns and speeds depending on the enemy type - but they'll all try to flank and surround you in an effective way. The game could really use some sort of AOE option, like the grenades and rolling dodge in Nation Red, or the ability to hold multiple guns.

As it is certain guns like the rocket launcher are more likely to get you killed than be useful, since you can't use them effectively in horde mode situations. The enemies just shadow you too well for them to clear out a proper gap, and they're too slow firing and reloading to use on a consistent basis. If they could be held as a secondary gun it would be a viable option, but you can only hold one at a time. You can't even drop it to go back to a basic pistol, you're stuck until another spawns, and this doesn't always happen often.

In fact since weapons and powerups drop where you killed the enemies it can be difficult to reach them, even at the start of the game.

It has an endless mode which also has perks, which tend to make the game a bit more random and fun. But it also ends up feeling a bit less skill based than Nation Red, because of the good AI pathing combined with lack of AOE - so unless you get the right guns and powerups at the right stages of the game you're dead. The enemy hives can also be difficult to keep under control for this mode, since you can't see the entire map at once and they spawn randomly across the entire area.

So it's not a bad game, definitely better than I expected, but not compelling enough to keep me coming back for more.

Synopsis:"Better simple shooter than I expected, the AI is great - but it really needs some grenades and dodging to get out of tight situations better."