Homeplay – Crawl

Crawl is an asymmetric rogue like local multiplayer game where 1 player controls the humanoid while others play as ghosts that can incarnate into monsters and traps.

I find the concept of monsters becoming the hero after murdering the hero interesting. It reminds me of Chinese folklores where monsters and animal spirits always have the assumption that human life is the best life, and regard the attainment of human form as their ultimate goal. It is also the reverse of the concept of the hero becoming the monster after defeating the monster, which might also be an interesting theme for a game.

The gameplay is overall fun, and I think the responsiveness contributes to the experience the most. All the visual elements are overreacting to the players’ tiniest commands, which feels morbidly satisfying. I think this is the same kind of “juiciness” one of the readings mentioned.

However I also found the display quite confusing at first, with everything moving around in different directions and I didn’t even know which thing I am. Since everything is pixelated and moving at high speed, I imagine the game will be very confusing for those who don’t play video games a lot.

I think asymmetry is an important element in the game. As the hero you just need to dash at and cut everything that moves. As the monster or trap you’re usually severely handicapped, attacking using some obscure vomit that never manages to hit. While all the monsters are sort of collaborating to kill the hero, they’re also sort of trying to betray each other by stealing the killing blow. When I’m playing other games, I often try to think in the AI enemies’ shoes about how their lives must have sucked. Crawl gave me the chance to actually experience it.

The game seems to be well-received by its audience, with “overwhelmingly positive” reviews on steam. However, I think that for local multiplayer games, players are playing each other as much as they’re playing the game. In other words, the game is merely a platform, a tool for friends to play each other. And thus the love of the game is partially a transference of people’s love of playing with other people.