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Home > Crow Country (2024): A Review

Crow Country (2024): A Review

Crow Country (2024): A Review

Survival Horror Minus the Survival

It’s no secret that nostalgia sells, as can be seen with the influx of remakes, reboots, and sequels to franchises that died long ago. Currently, people are yearning for the days of Y2K. PS1, PS2, Dreamcast and other consoles from that period are constantly on people’s social media posts, and video essays covering games like Resident Evil and Silent Hill are all over YouTube. In fact, the studio behind Silent Hill, Konami, is currently working on a remake of Silent Hill 2, which is considered to be a darling amongst survival horror enjoyers. Considering this, it should come as no surprise that Crow Country, a retro-inspired survival horror, has quickly become a hot topic in the gaming space. The game follows Mara Forest, a woman in pursuit of Edward Crow. The owner of a local and beloved amusement park, Crow has been missing for two years by the time the game starts. Determined to uncover the mystery surrounding Crow’s disappearance, Forest will be forced to deal with a slew of nightmarish creatures and traps in order to survive. Developed by SFB Games and released May 9, 2024, this game has already surpassed some of the available AAA games currently out.

The Setup

For fans of survival horror, the plot of this game will feel familiar. Playing as an officer with a seemingly mysterious background, the protagonist finds herself in an abandoned amusement park. If this sounds familiar, it’s because Silent Hill 3 has a similar setup, with players spending time in a demented amusement park while playing as Heather, a teenager. It also follows Resident Evil’s plot formula. A protagonist is trapped in a secluded area with inhuman denizens. Players find out more about the backstory through notes left behind. Near the end, players will finally piece together what events led up to the game and the origin of these monsters.

The game’s pacing definitely takes after Resident Evil, with the story seemingly taking its time until the last quarter and then suddenly bombarding the player with major events occurring back to back. The characters kind of make up for this with each having unique personalities. A majority of the player’s time will be spent either shooting or running away from monsters or alone while completing puzzles. So it can legitimately feel like a breath of fresh air when players finally get to meet a friendly face. The main character is also surprisingly fun to play as. Most games tend to either stick with a silent protagonist with the personality of wet cardboard or an annoying motor mouth with over-the-top sarcasm. On a side note for whoever needs to hear it, sarcasm is not a personality trait. Thankfully, the developers managed to keep a balance between witty and endearing but not overbearing.

Horror Done Right

As a survival horror game, or any type of horror game in general, one of the most crucial things to get down is the atmosphere. The game takes place in an abandoned amusement park, and it definitely feels like one, with boarded up windows and trash just lying around. Certain areas also still have music playing, which makes things even more eerie. What’s more, the amusement park is separated into zones, with each one having its own unique atmosphere. From fairytale-themed areas to spooky haunted manors, the developers did a great job of adding uniquely designed areas with their own atmosphere. At some point, players will even begin running into booby traps, which feel like a nice touch.

Another amazing part of this game’s horror is the horrifyingly putrid monsters roaming around. There are a number of different monster types that all have their own unique design. One particularly unique enemy is a sort of skeletal monster resembling Shaq if he developed an eating disorder. This thing lumbers over the player, and in order to properly be dealt with, players must get in close to get a headshot. This particular type of monster even has its own music that plays when it’s in the area. This sort of feature is somewhat reminiscent of Silent Hill’s radio mechanic, which would play white noise when near enemies.

So Easy It’s Scary!  

Ironically, for something meant to be a love letter to survival horror as a genre, the game gets that part of the equation wrong. In a survival horror game, part of the horror is the fear of death. Take Resident Evil, for example; this particular franchise was considered a golden child in the subgenre, as it did a wonderful job in making players actually fear death due to its unique save system, in which players save their progress based on how many ink ribbons they had on them. This effect was further compounded by the scarcity of ammunition and health items. Each encounter with an enemy meant careful strategizing and planning. Crow Country fails entirely in that regard, with it often feeling like the developers were too scared to put too much stress on players. It never feels like resources are running too low, and players can save scum as much as they want. Due to level design, it’s also easy to just run around enemies and go through the entire game avoiding combat. This essentially removes any major tension in the game and removes the survival aspect. 

While this game comes up short as a survival horror, its gameplay still has some upsides, the biggest being the puzzle portions of this game. For some reason, it’s an unwritten rule that survival horror involves overly-thought-out puzzles that rely on mental gymnastics. Luckily, the puzzles here actually involve valid human reasoning. Instead of solutions seemingly being impossible to figure out without a guide, the solutions are always staring you in the face. 

End Results

Crow Country is yet another example of indie gaming done right. While AAA games became the norm at some point, many people have grown pessimistic with the industry norms now involved. There’s no shortage of games coming out nowadays with a robust budget and years of development only to release with a plethora of issues and only half of the features promised at launch. Despite this, the price of gaming as a hobby has still managed to increase despite an obvious decrease in quality. At some point during all of this, indie games have managed to keep the torch going. While experienced survival horror fans may not have much of a challenge playing this game, there is enough spirit and heart to make this a must play for every enthusiast. This gem is out now for PC, PS5, and Xbox X|S.

Crow Country (2024) Official GameSpot Launch Trailer

Source: Dead Talk Live

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Author

A lover of gore and over the top violence, no movie can make my stomach squirm. The only thing better than a bloody death scene is a well choreographed stunt. Whether it be action or horror, if it has blood in it, then I've likely already seen it.

Cailen Fienemann is a current student at Le Moyne College pursuing her BA in English and Communications with a film studies minor and a creative writing concentration.  Though uncertain about her career end-goals, any job that allows her to write is a cherished one indeed.