When you finally get to play an actual, working game of Basement Crawl, you’re greeted with one of the most confusing, twitchy, and poorly designed bastardizations of the Bomberman formula since Bomberman: Act Zero. You choose one of four characters to control on an isometric grid--matches can hold up to eight players, and duplicates don’t have alternate color schemes, so you will inevitably confuse your own character with everyone else’s. This, along with a poorly worded and vastly uninformative instruction manual, leaves you with little clue as to what you’re actually supposed to do in a given match. Even if you’ve played games like Bomberman before, trial and error is the only way to figure things out.
Following Basement Crawl's release, Bloober Team issued an open letter to its community, stating it will be addressing the game's bugs. "In our pre-release testing and QA process, we didn't encounter these issues," the developer said. "They emerged only after the game went public. Had we known about these issues, we would have delayed the release further until all known bugs were fixed." Time will tell whether or not this patch arrives--and how effective it will be addressing the game's underlying problems. But until then, you'd be wise to avoid this game.
Your goal is to place traps on the grid-like map in such a way that you lure your opponents into their blast radius, picking up power-ups along the way to make your character stronger. It’s a tried and true design, but the reason Bomberman works is because of its specifically methodical pace--yes, you need to be quick on your feet, but you also need to think at least one move ahead. Basement Crawl, on the other hand, moves too fast; its UI elements are muddled and unclear, and its power-ups are indistinguishable from everything else on the map. It’s less about tense cat-and-mouse maneuvering, and more about littering the ground with as many explosives as you can and then hoping for the best. And when all of your stats are halved each time you die, future deaths come swiftly and frequently--so it’s best to just go in guns blazing, rather than actually think about what you’re doing.
From the confusing UI and instructions, to the needlessly off-putting aesthetics, to the fact that the game just doesn’t work much of the time, Basement Crawl is uninviting to all but the most masochistic and desperate of players. Can a game in this genre exist in the 21st century? Sure--but this one isn’t worth your time.