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Crow Country Review

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When you have lived and played through older eras of gaming it makes people think; pretty much in one or two ways. They either long for the innocence of playing those games again, trying to get that feeling back. That’s why the success of remasters and the retro market has been such a big hit.

But then others are happy to remember the days of pixel graphics, hardcore gameplay, and very limited saves and never want to go back. I fall into that latter camp.  

Crow Country review 1
Ready for some retro horror?

Thankfully Crow Country has enough originality and charm to make going back in time a pleasant experience…

Crow Country gives a couple of options at the beginning, allowing you to either play in normal mode or wander through things without having the fuss of things trying to kill you where you can experience the adventure alone.

Whichever, the game is an homage to those survival horror games of the ‘90s and the PS1 era of games, complete with a fuzzy VHS look about it, limited save points, even more limited ammo, and an isometric camera that makes it hard to see what’s around every corner. But there is a good story here and a very atmospheric setup. 

You play special agent Mara Forest as you are tasked with seeking out the owner of an amusement park; someone called Edward Crow. When you arrive there isn’t anyone around and soon you stumble upon a hideous monster roaming the park. As you progress through the game a strange and fun story unfolds, told through encounters and bits of info you find along the way in memos and the like. There is a nice feature where you find tutorial tips in posters and magazines in the early part of the game. Overall, it’s a good story with some great world-building by a team who know their genre. 

Crow Country review 3
Piecing together the tale…

The gameplay feels natural, very much like riding a bike, in which you can never forget the ideas from years gone by. You move Mara around the areas exploring, clicking on environmental items and picking up items as you go. The best part of the game for me is the puzzle solving, and that is due to it coming with the perfect combination of Silent Hill and Resident Evil in style. Admittedly, I did get stuck a few times but never in a frustrating way, instead rewarded when the solution popped up. There is also a helpful hint system if you do get too stuck, and that means Crow Country should be accessible to all.

The combat is good as well, utilising the right stick for aiming as you get to shoot the old pistol, then shotgun combination. It’s not particularly challenging but be warned the map and rooms are very tight so you can easily find yourself in trouble. And remember that Crow Country runs an old school save mechanic, so if you do die you might end up repeating sections or backtracking which might be an issue. It should however only take around six hours to complete the game in full. 

Visually, pixel art is used in a very endearing way. The locations make the most of some fuzzy VHS-style graphics that look amazing, well designed and nicely lit. The main character of Mara very much runs a Final Fantasy VII character design and at points reminds a lot of that game. Horror-wise it’s not that scary but it did make me smile a lot in how the spectacle is presented. 

Crow Country review 2
Blast your way through the tight corridors

In terms of the audio, in Crow Country you’re getting an eerie soundtrack full of drones and sudden bell-like noises that come together to create a perfect atmosphere. 

Crow Country is an excellent homage to the games found in the early survival horror market. But it still manages to do its own thing, and I like the way it opens up the experience for all gamers, from hardened players to newcomers. The story is good, as are the puzzles and the exploration more, whilst the combat is fine. I could have done without the old-school save points and backtracking is always a pet hate, but there’s no doubt that Crow County is a pleasant and enjoyable retro experience. 

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Good story
  • Accessible options of gameplay
  • Exploration and puzzles
Cons:
  • Save points
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, SFB Games
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), PC, PS5
  • Release date and price - 9 May 2024 | £16.74
Gareth Brierley
Gareth Brierleyhttp://www.garethbrierley.co.uk
I am an actor and a writer. I act quite a bit on stage, a little bit on tv and never on tuesdays. I have had some of my writing published and have written for TV and stage. I have been playing games since they begun and don't seem to be getting any better.
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Good story</li> <li>Accessible options of gameplay</li> <li>Exploration and puzzles</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Save points</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, SFB Games</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), PC, PS5 <li>Release date and price - 9 May 2024 | £16.74</li> </ul>Crow Country Review
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