The Crimsons in Review – Sometimes it takes a more than a great story…

The App Store is devoid of any really notable games in the Horror genre. Only a few developers have been able to convey the atmosphere through the small screen of the iPhone and truly succeed in instilling the feeling of terror. What’s even more interesting is the fact that all of them are indie, with such famous franchises as Resident Evil 4 or SILENT HILL The Escape (US) failing to even scare a 2 year old on the platform. The most notable ones who managed the feat are the king of our The App Store’s Best Adventure in the Action/Adventure genre Fallen EP-1 (TMA Review) and the original interactive movie Hysteria Project (TMA Review). And just recently a new entry in the genre has arrived by the curious name of The Crimsons.

The Crimsons titles itself as a mini interactive horror novella, though in truth it’s almost a true an Action/Adventure game. The story is off to a great start as you attend an art gallery reception party, held in honour of your old friend’s latest series of paintings, crowned the surreal painting titled “The Crimsons”. But, as you guessed it, not all goes well with strange creatures appearing out of nowhere immediately after the unveiling. Having disposed of them with your recently uncovered pyrokinetic powers, you embark on a search for your missing friend in an attempt to figure out just what the hell is going on.

If you were confused by my marking The Crimsons as “almost” an Action/Adventure game – let me explain. The game starts off well, with a nicely done cutscene and some time to roam the gallery, talk to people and examine the paintings. Once the story gets rolling, however, and the monsters start to appear the game immediately descends into moving across linear corridors with a very rare person to hear a few lines from. Oh yes, the process is diluted a bit by an occasional search for a key or an item to pass an obstacle, but in fact it only involves doubling back into a sidetunnel to get the said item.

The battle system could’ve saved the game a bit, with an intriguing “pyrokinetic ability” concept. In fact it boils down to pressing the fire button once to arm the ability, with the firing arc displayed in front of our hero, and then again to set it off. Wait until the ability recharge, rinse, repeat. Add to this the fact that there is no kind of limit on the amount of charges, you get a strange feature that has seemingly been slapped on just for the sake of it.

Graphically the game leaves a dual impression. The cutscenes are excellently done, as well as the art gallery area. But as you get deeper in the game you’ll find yourself faced with the dark but empty park, with virtually no trees whatsoever; or the university/apartment areas, which are a copy of the art gallery with no paintings. And in all that “variety” all you’ll encounter is the same single type of enemies and the occasional NPC. Oh yeah, and there’s a single boss enemy too, not that it matters much at this point.

As much as I hate to say it, The Crimsons came as a huge disappointment to me. Of course for the meager price of $0.99 and viewing the title as the developers pin it (i.e. interactive horror novel) it may be worth picking up. But it simply pains me to see such a great story and concept go to complete waste, with the Action/Adventure stuff having been slapped on for no apparent reason and wrapped in poor graphics and game design. As I said, developers, sometimes a great story is just not enough.

With this I declare The Crimsons officially touched!

App Summary
Title: The Crimsons Developer: Wabo Studios
Reviewed Ver: 1.0 Min OS Req: 3.1.3
Price: $0.99 App Size: 28.29MB
  • Excellent story
  • Good cutscenes
  • Short
  • Completely linear
  • only 1 enemy type
  • only 1 weapon
  • Empty world


More action/adventure reviews right here on TMA:

A project manager in a major telecommunications supplier, an iPhone junkie and lately - a TMA editor. Love long walks on the beach and my wife, who is the most beautiful girl on the face of this planet. You can also follow me on twitter for all things iPhone and project management (and some personal stuff as well):

Next ArticleApple's Remote app updated to 2.0