Crimsonland was the very first 10 ton game. It was the very first game I made. If anyone had said then that I would still talk about it almost 18 years later… I don’t know if I would have believed that. It’s crazy.
Nonetheless, over the years Crimsonland has assembled some sort of cult. Some players just can’t seem to get enough. The biggest fans have played it for thousands of hours. While I can only speculate as to why all of this happened, I have a few guesses as to how the game gained its popularity.
When the game was released in 2003, most 2D games still used software rendering. The use of 3D accelerators allowed us to have thousands of moving monsters on the screen at once. It had novelty value, especially at the time, and there’s no denying that it can be very satisfying to mow down those hordes of monsters. It also defined the concept of level structure in a new way. Suddenly, the monsters themselves provided an ever-changing maze to walk through. You had to plan and fight your way through enemies to achieve this next bonus. Everything is constantly changing, so you have to constantly take risks, plan new routes, and try to uncover weak spots in the horde. I think that kind of plasticity keeps gameplay fresh for longer.
Level up, die, repeat
Crimsonland’s survival mode may have been one of the first action roguelike-style experiences. Inspired by larger RPGs like the Fallout series, one of the goals was to adapt the progression of this RPG into a shorter action game format. Kill monsters, accumulate experience points, level up and try to survive as long as possible. Each time you level up, you can choose one of the random perks. As you learn what each perk does and what combinations of weapons and perks might come in handy, you will begin to strategize new. You perished this time, but maybe in the next round you will be lucky? This makes it very tempting to play this new game again.
But I can only speculate as to why the game has become popular. The truth is, the fans and them who spread the word are what made Crimsonland popular. People are still talking about the game. And there is one more question we hear all the time. When is Crimsonland 2 released?
The future of Crimsonland
Over the years, we’ve actually had more than one prototype for Crimsonland 2. The first one focused on networked online multiplayer, but it quickly became apparent that network multiplayer was not very compatible with games. thousands of monsters at the time (2005). Eventually we dropped that and focused on other projects.
Another Crimsonland 2 prototype focused on a larger open world experience. This turned out to be a bit too big a project for our studio at the time, so we put that prototype on hold as well and focused on something else. Some of those open-world ideas have found their way into our open-world RPG Dysmantle which is due out on PS4 and PS5 later this year. It’s an open-world action RPG, but the gameplay doesn’t feel like Crimsonland.
Due to Crimsonland’s odd ability to defy time, we’ve kept it technically up to date and even added new features over the years. We also performed a larger modernization update a few years ago. As the gear got more powerful, we kept increasing the number of rushing monsters. The latest version on PS5 is probably the definitive Crimsonland experience for now. There have never been so many monsters in Crimsonland as there are today.
You would think that at this point I had my share of Crimsonland. But the truth is, I still play the game every now and then. This is one of my most played games in my PlayStation games library. After a long day, I turn on my PS5 and run Crimsonland. And shoot down a few thousand monsters. And Dream of Crimsonland 2.