I haven’t played a King’s Bounty-like game in some time, so I felt that I should bust out Reverse Crawl. This one came in Digerati’s Dungeon Crawl package, which normally goes for $52.50; I got the pack on sale for $8. The normal price is ridiculous and barely saves you any money when compared to buying all four separately ($13 + $15 + $15 + $10 = $53). I also wouldn’t recommend this package because its four games play so differently from each other and I doubt that many people would enjoy all four.
Personally, my favorite game in this pack is Skelly Selest. I could play that game all day!
I don’t really understand why it’s called “Reverse Crawl.” From the title, you’re given the impression that it turns the dungeon crawling formula on its head, but that’s not what happens in the game at all. It’s not a dungeon crawl. There’s nothing about it which reverses anything. Battles in Reverse Crawl play out very similarly to battles in the Katauri King’s Bounty games, just with the “twist” that you’re playing as the “enemy faction” (i.e. undead). But King’s Bounty let you do that, too, even with the first game in 1990.
The main differences are 1) there’s no exploration, thereby making Reverse Crawl feel more repetitive, and 2) troops don’t permanently die; instead, you can select from monster “groups.” Once your first “group” of monsters – for example, two melee spiders and one ranged spider – perishes, you can call upon another “group” of monsters, until you’ve exhausted your reserves. I found this was fairly interesting, if not revolutionary.
Graphics in Reverse Crawl are amateurish and tacky, as you can see. That’s why I like them.
Aside from a different format for battles, there aren’t too many ways in which Reverse Crawl distinguishes itself from its King’s Bounty influence. Reverse Crawl has units with special abilities, it offers you chances to upgrade your troops, and it allows you to use magic spells which run off of a “threat” meter (think “rage” from King’s Bounty). Reverse Crawl notably lacks the ability to “wait” with your troops, whereas in King’s Bounty, you could use a unit’s action to “wait” and then use that action at the end of the round.
Add to this the lack of exploration, lack of in-depth army building, and lack of permanent troop death, and it quickly becomes apparent that Reverse Crawl does not offer anywhere near the strategic complexity as the King’s Bounty games do.
Another problem is that Reverse Crawl is yet another SRPG which is way too easy. I finished an entire playthrough in four hours and then finished a New Game+ in an additional two hours. Throughout six hours of gameplay, I never lost a single battle. Is that not a significant issue?
Easy difficulty is acceptable, especially for games marketed at newcomers to SRPGs, or casual players in general. However, as a Strategy RPG, a game should aim to offer strategic challenges. I would be able to excuse this easy difficulty if it had additional difficulty modes, like in King’s Bounty… but Reverse Crawl only has one difficulty mode. The original King’s Bounty from 1990 offered more challenge than Reverse Crawl does.
Just like the Bravelands games and the Greenolor Studio games, Reverse Crawl is a King’s Bounty clone which is decently enjoyable, but which never surpasses its source material. Even if these games never ascend to true greatness, I enjoyed them and am glad they exist. If nothing else, they’re all worthy introductions to the King’s Bounty style of games.
It goes without saying that none of them hold a candle to Armored Princess. But will any King’s Bounty-like game ever eclipse Armored Princess? I’m doubtful.
Console: PC, Mac, PS4, Switch, Xbox One
Developers: Nerdook Productions
Nerdook’s website: https://nerdook-productions.com/reverse-crawl/