Got any plans for lunch hour? Let me show you one of the best dungeon crawlers you can start and finish before going back to work!
It seemed that 2006 was the ‘year of the casual game’ … everyone was attributing the success of the DS and the allure of the Wii to the desire for quick, simple and fun gaming experiences. That isn’t a new thing, really – just ask anyone who has missed lunch playing Bejeweled or Zuma or Minesweeper.
Now you can add FastCrawl to that list.
FastCrawl is a simple concept – quick ‘dungeon crawling’. A ‘dungeon crawl’ is a single-minded type of game – it consists of one or more explorers battling through a labyrinthine structure of some sort, killing everything and collecting loot. The ‘fast’ part of the name comes from the fact that these games are intended to last no more than an hour, and less than a half-hour is a short game is selected.
The game is simple to pick up and play, yet enough of a challenge to keep you interested and coming back for more. Unlike many role-playing games in which you agonize for hours about building characters and allocating attribute points, here you are given a number of adventurers at random, outfitted with basic equipment and sent on your way.
You are posed a main quest at the start of a dungeon, and a minor quest at the beginning of each level of the dungeon. The challenge is not only to complete the quests, but to find all of the treasure and secret areas – and survive long enough to finish the level. Combat is a simple turn-based system – all characters get a turn in an order based on several factors, and can choose from several actions to execute during their turn.
You determine how your characters will line up for maximum effect – usually placing mages and archers in the back and warriors in the front. The random nature of parties and enemies can cause battles to range from trivial to nearly impossible, but everything happens quickly enough to be great fun throughout.
Everyone is amazed at how a game like Plants vs. Zombies manages to use concepts such as zombies and home assault and yet be completely family friendly. FastCrawl has a layout and play style make this game just about the nicest and least scary dungeon crawl I’ve ever played – it doesn’t have the cuteness of Fate (predecessor to Torchlight), but neither does it have the frantic feel of some of the pitched battles.
FastCrawl represents your party as a nice blue icon in the dungeon and enemies as dark icons with red eyes. The individual character avatars are displayed along the bottom, and only during battle do you see anything looking like blood – as you take damage your avatar fills with red, as an enemy is defeated there is a spot of blood that flashes momentarily, and when of your party falls they are represented by a skull icon. The feel throughout is maintained as fairly light and almost puzzle-like. There is no dialog and nothing complex or scary – just battle after battle until the end.
FastCrawl isn’t going to be the type of game that you will play exclusively for weeks on end – rather it is the game that you’ll fit into small slots of time amongst your other gaming. It will not confuse you or mess up your memory of characters or stories in other games – and it really doesn’t matter how long you set it aside before finishing a dungeon. Just a few minutes remembering your party and their equipment and capabilities and you’re ready to explore some more.
This is the perfect casual role-playing game for fans of any genre – you get a nicely designed dungeon crawl that will fit your schedule and that leaves you anticipating your next quick trip through the dungeon.
RetroGamer Perspective: FastCrawl is an amazing game in that it will appeal immediately to fans of classic role-playing games and also to more recent puzzle-type casual games.
Netbook Gamer Perspective:
– Digital Download / CD version? – FastCrawl is only available for $20.
– Installation Notes: When you buy the game it comes as a single executable, and the installation is quick and easy.
– Disk Space Requirements: full-install takes ~30MB – yeah, 30MB.
– CD Required to Play? No … because there was never a CD version.
– Control Considerations? Everything is done with a mouse click, and on-screen feedback helps you throughout without ever feeling intrusive.
– Will it run on a VIA C7? Yes!
– Will it run with 1GB RAM? Yes!
– Special Considerations for running in Windows XP / Vista / Win 7? The game requires the .NET framework already installed in order to operate – but it will install even if the .NET framework isn’t installed.
– Compatible versions for other OS such as Linux or Mac OS? There was never a Mac or Linux release, though I see no reason it wouldn’t run on an emulation service.
– Notes on the Digital Version: When you buy the game … KEEP THE DOWNLOAD FILE! This is one of those cases where the download service provides you with a *single* download.
Conclusion: FastCrawl is a great little game that never took hold in the mainstream the way many other games such as Puzzle Quest did, but it remains a personal favorite of mine for offering such simple fun on any PC I have. That sort of quality and fun just never gets old.