With today’s Collapsed review you’re going to need the following ingredients: patience, a steady aim, a hint of Shadow of the Beast (the new one) and season with the classic Flashback.
With four classes to choose from, a wealth of procedurally generated maps to get lost in, the big question we ask ourselves is: where do babies come from?
The rogue-like, rogue-lite and Metroidvania titles are wearing me down as it seems that’s these are still the bulk of what’s on offer when you go down to the eShop today. To stand out, you need to have pretty graphics, controls as tight as your old man’s budgie smugglers, loot that would make a pirate repeatedly say booty, or some sort of gimmick that nobody else has tried. Hell, let’s go for all of the above.
Collapsed’s USP is the class system. You get to choose from four types:
- Reaper – the all-rounder.
- Devourer – the weak ranged dude.
- Warrior – the melee tankard.
- Pest – the sneaky trickster.
To be fair, there isn’t that much different from them other than their cool looks as they all have the fundamental melee and ranged attack as one another, but have the odd ability to make them unique.
I started with the warrior as melee is my preferred style of play, but the game’s runtime felt like a demo as I wasn’t experiencing enough of the game, instead, hanging out in the lobby-like area between my frequent deaths.
Sure, I was doing my knucklehead run by charging everything with a melee attack. This disposes of individuals pretty well, but you’re bound to take a few hits in the process and no matter which character you choose, the starting health isn’t enough for two-footed tactics.
I needed to play it smart so implemented the long-range attacks (combining the right analogue stick for aiming and ZR for shooting) for taking care of enemies from a distance whenever possible, and for the lesser mobs charging me, an overhead ZL melee attack for crowd control.
In time, the deaths were less common, and I found myself at a crossroads: do I continue this monotonous death sludge, or shall I see if I can upgrade my character with the skills tree? Boom – there’s the hook.
Collapsed is a rogue-lite where you are placed in a random level each run and have to locate a portal to take you to the next level. You’ll encounter waves of enemies – especially when you trigger a portal and encounter boss battles.
Upon death, you return to the beginning, starting at a new level and repeat as before but the maps are procedurally generated, so no one run is ever the same.
The Story Has Fallen
One of the highlights of Collapsed is you get to keep all your loot and skill progression upon death, so even for the weaker players, you’ll retain your gear and eventually will level up.
Storywise, it’s a bit redundant and to be truthful, I couldn’t follow it properly. Scattered through each of the levels are memory nodes that inform on the background story. Still, it’s nothing exciting and due to the random sequence of levels, the story never properly flows coherently, so I just kind of dismissed it.
Fortunately for us gamers, this doesn’t affect the gameplay as you came here for the rootin’ and tootin’ am I right? When it comes to action, Collapsed doesn’t disappoint, and there’s not one moment of downtime to do a sudoku as there’s always something going on in.
Enemies will be scattered about the stages that you should clear before triggering a portal as the numbers become overwhelming. You’ll get item drops here and there, but when the wave is complete you’ll get some loot, and occasionally, re-trigger the portal for some high-bounty enemies.
Your inventory is quite limited, and while it’s tempting to grab everything, you don’t have deep enough pockets. There’s a lot of item juggling and deciphering on what to take with you and what to drop.
Between runs, you can store what you’ve accumulated to free up space, but there’s also the option to craft big, brighter gear. Weirdly, you can only craft items on a run and not at your base. This proves to be quite annoying as you have to wander a procedurally generated map hoping you’ll find a crafting station. The upside is if you die in your search, you won’t lose the gear you were carrying.
I’m A Survivor
The only other way to survive other than crafting better items is collecting the loot dropped by enemies with their passive buffs, or unlocking the skill tree. There’s the potential to overpower, but an emphasis on potential – it takes an age to unlock separate tiers, so you have to choose wisely.
If ever there were a game where grinding was a necessity, I’d say Collapsed fits that criteria. While there’ll be top players speedrunning the game and unlocking the more challenging modes in the time it takes me to choose a class, even when you complete it the first time, you’re going to want to unlock the skill tree and experiment with the upgrades, but it’ll take time.
The first hurdle though is whether you’ll want to invest your time in the game in the opening hour or two as it’s quite relentless. While the game isn’t bullet hell, there’s no breathing space for survival when starting out.
Besides being able to heal by holding down the L button (pending you’re holding the jar of snot dropped by baddies), survival is futile – not just because of the hard-hitting enemies, but the number of them too.
Getting up close and personal is my thing, but the melee path isn’t the go-to at the start, so expect to use range attacks from the get-go. Thankfully, the controls are very good. Besides having an ‘invulnerable dash’ and special abilities, you can drop down to platforms below with ease, as well as wall run/climb that makes Ryu Hayabusa look like an iron golem when it comes to flair.
If I hadn’t had to grit my teeth and persevere that first couple of hours, I might have given Collapsed the boot. It’s not that it was the most demanding game, but dying so frequently without being spitting distance from an upgrade on the skill tree was deflating. If it weren’t for the random starting levels and procedurally generated maps, it would have got tedious quick.
But, as seems to be my catchphrase, I like to grind, and while it takes a little longer than most games on the same ilk, the rewards are worth it. I wish that there was a bit more to separate the classes from one another other than the apparent cosmetic element.