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Video Game / Crawl

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This is about the Video Game called Crawl. For the banner of streaming text that appears on TV news, see Crawl. For the gameplay trope, see Dungeon Crawling. For the 2019 film, see Crawl. For the Roguelike game with the name often shortened to Crawl, see Dungeon Crawl

In the caverns beneath the earth, all turn mad.
— Opening lines, trailer

Crawl is a Asymmetric Multiplayer dungeon crawler by Powerhoof in which one player controls the hero and three others play as spirits attempting to kill him. The spirits fight by controlling the dungeon's perils, via possessing traps and assuming the role of summoned monsters. Whoever lands the killing blow takes the place of the hero. The four players thus compete to grow in power and eventually unlock the path to the dungeon's Final Boss - whichever player slays the boss will earn their freedom and win the game.

Crawl was released on April 11th, 2017 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC, then on December 19, 2017 for Nintendo Switch. Check out the trailer here

This game provides examples of:

  • Ambiguous Situation: It is never explained how the four heroes end up where they were at the start of each run. All that is known is what leads to the inevitable Sanity Slippage and killing each other, before the Sole Survivor ventures forth while the three spirits pursue. Each start of a run paints a different one of these, courtesy of the narrator, but the journey is the same.
  • Asymmetric Multiplayer: At any given time, one player is a human adventurer while the other three are spirits controlling traps and monsters.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Each time you attempt to escape, a boss monster stands between your hero and salvation:
    • Kourok, a tentacled beast lurking in an underground spring.
    • Ghidraak, a three-headed hydra.
    • Tezekal, a Mayincatec priest who commands a buried, Hindu-esque statue as his Soul Jar. Uniquely, the spirit players do not control Tezekal himself, but the animated statue and its many limbs.
  • Blob Monster: Weak ranged units that spirits can plonk into the room to harass the player. Since all doors lock when there are enemies around, this can help to prevent the hero from quickly escaping when there are traps around.
  • Cognizant Limbs:
    • Kourok's tentacles. One shoots acid pools onto the floor, the other fires bubbles that can temporarily trap the hero. Both can be possessed and controlled by different spirits.
    • Ghidraak has three heads, one for each of the spirits to possess. One shoots gouts of flame, another spits out balls of ice, and the third breathes acid. Once cut off, these heads can still fly about and must be slain.
    • Tezekal's statue has several limbs and his head sticking out of the ground. It's the only current boss with more limbs than ghosts, forcing those players to jump between them.
  • Comeback Mechanic: At the end of a level, a player whose level is lower will have more Wrath to upgrade their monsters, allowing them to get stronger monsters that have a better chance of killing the hero to get a lot of exp in the process and a chance to catch up.
  • Competitive Multiplayer: One player plays the hero. The other three play as spirits who both cooperate (ganging up on him to lower his health) and compete (the guy who finishes the hero becomes the new hero) with each-other.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: Quite a bit of one. For starters, each player chooses an eldritch patron that determines which monsters they can summon. The game proper begins with the four player characters collectively losing their minds and murdering each-other. Losing the final battle three times results in the boss for that round being unleashed on the world (suffice it to say this doesn't end well) and the player who allowed the third loss being devoured to fuel that escape.
  • Death as Game Mechanic: Up to four lost souls are competing for the chance to return to life and escape the dungeon. Only one player can be "alive" at a time, exploring the dungeon with typical roguelike mechanics, while the other three players activate traps or summon controllable monsters to slay the adventurer and take his place. Notably, the game begins with all four players alive, but they're trapped in a room and forced to murder one-another to decide who starts as the adventurer.
  • Deletion as Punishment: If the final battle is failed three times, the player responsible for the third loss will have their character and progress erased from the game forever.
  • Demonic Possession: The spirits do this to various booby traps and monsters they summon.
  • Doppelgänger Attack: a monster called Slavering Maw has a special attack that creates a clone (after a short delay the clone is able to move and attack). You can use this unlimited times (provided you respect the ability cooldown), so the battle can get quite hectic. Killing the original will also kill all the clones.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Kourok. You can possess him and his two tentacles too.
    • The patron deities you can pray to at the start of each game for a specific bonus all pay homage to some lovecraftian nightmare or another.
    • The blobfish and beholder lines certainly count. The former is a reference to the Deep Ones in the Cthulhu Mythos, while the latter is one to the creature of the same name in Dungeons & Dragons; both of these having sufficient levels of interdimensional nightmare fuel to their name.
  • Feed It a Bomb: Kourok opens his mouth whenever he's firing his powerful eye laser. If you hit the exploding flesh blob into him them, he'll swallow it and become stunned, causing Kourok's brain to drop to the ground and make him immobilized and vulnerable to hero's melee attack for a few seconds.
  • Geometric Magic: Pentagrams inscribed on the floors are required for the spirits to take corporeal form, but they are limited to forms which please a chosen deity, indicating some link between the two. Without the pentagrams the ghosts are limited to spawning slimes or animating traps and props.
  • Golden Snitch: The player who beats the boss wins regardless of level. However, if the players fail to defeat the boss three times, the hero responsible for the final defeat will be lost forever.
  • Intrepid Merchant: The merchant on every floor of the game is delving just as deep as any of the players into obviously extremely dangerous territory (and is possibly not human, though this is never revealed) and seems to be exactly where the player needs him to be.
  • Level Scaling: A variant. For every level a player gains as the hero, the other three players gain a currency called "wrath", which is used between floors to upgrade monsters to stronger forms.
  • Living Statue: Statues found in the catacombs can be possessed by spirits and brought to life.
  • Luck-Based Mission:
    • Each time a spirit goes to a summoning circle, their monster is selected at random from the three they can have. It's thus a good idea to evolve all three monsters together instead of having one powerful one and two weak ones.
    • Since each floor is randomly generated, the shops and floor layout can either benefit the hero or be useless/harmful to them.
  • Mask of Power: Tezekal powers his statue via a mask that must be knocked off to stun the boss.
  • Multiple Endings: Two, based around whether or not a hero successfully defeats one of the bosses.
    • Salvation: After vanquishing the beast, the hero escapes, while the other three spirits remain trapped in the catacombs forever.
    • Humanity Stolen: After three failed attempts to escape the dungeon, the victorious boss devours the current hero, using their stolen humanity to escape the dungeon and terrorize the world, with the three spirits tagging along.
  • The Man Behind the Monsters: It's implied Tezekal is the master of the dungeon itself, and he's a human Evil Sorcerer.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: After slaying his companions at the start of the game, the surviving player character will briefly break down in tears before moving on.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • If all three attempts to slay one of the boss monsters fail, then the final boss is released into the world.
    • When the hero first enters Ghidraak's chambers, the wizard attempts to cut off one of the hydra's heads while it's still sleeping. This only wakes it up, much to the wizard's obvious dismay.
  • No Campaign for the Wicked: Averted. Three players play as the spirits/monsters while the fourth plays as the hero.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: Tezekal himself does not fight, but performs rites to keep his statue Soul Jar active. To stun the statue and reveal the heart the hero needs to destroy, the hero must deplete Tezekal's health to knock off his mask and force him to flee underground to recuperate.
  • Overdrawn at the Blood Bank: The hero and monsters (even slimes!) bleed a lot when near death, while a hero's death results in a dramatic deluge of blood. Certain accessories actually take advantage of this, making the hero's attacks more powerful or giving them a chance to heal in blood.
  • Permadeath: The player who falls while challenging a boss for the third and last time has their soul consumed. Accordingly, that player's name and profile is deleted from the game.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: Players are asked to choose a patron deity to worship which affects which monsters you can spawn. However, it is also possible to reject them all and instead pick which deity you would prefer to taunt even if it means you will "face their wrath", which translates to debuffs or permanent status conditions.
  • Rewarding Vandalism: Inverted. A player who destroys objects will disperse slime points for the spirits, which will allow them to summon slimes once they get enough.
  • Rule of Three:
    • The hero has a total of three chances (shared between all players) to escape by defeating one of the bosses. Failing the first two times dumps them back into the ruins with just a sliver of health left. Failure on the last try means that the monster destroys their humanity and escapes.
    • There can be up to three spirits.
    • Two of the bosses have three body parts that can each be possessed by a spirit.
    • Spirits can store up to three slimes at a time (by default).
    • Each spirit can use a pentagram to take the form of one of three possible monsters in their stable, which is defined by their chosen deity.
  • Sole Survivor: The game officially starts when there is only one player alive among the four. They then journey through the pit while the three spirits fight for their body.
  • Soul Jar: Tezekal's statue, which explicitly is powered by him ripping out his heart and hiding it inside before he uses his mask to awaken it.
  • Support Party Member: When challenging Ghidraak, the hero is aided by a teleporting wizard who drops healing and attack buffs. Naturally, the spirits may consider him higher priority.
  • Tactical Suicide Boss: Kourok. You need to knock the exploding flesh balls that periodically fall from the ceiling into him to hurt him. Even better if he's using the eye laser, as this will make him drop his brain and become useless for a while.
  • You Kill It, You Bought It: The spirit who deals the killing blow to the hero takes his place.