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Platform: PC

Crow Country Review

A plucky retro survival horror carnival

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Indie developers are contributing to an ever-expanding retro game theme park. Many recent attractions are sporting visuals that appear decades old. We see this in the new boomer shooters that have 2D sprites, and the point-and-click adventures that utilize pixel-art. The simpler graphics produces the requisite nostalgia and makes the games a little easier to create. Crow Country is another retro title that has all the hallmarks of a third-person survival horror game from the 90s. Similar in design to Signalis, its rudimentary isometric PlayStation 1 graphics give it adequate charm, and the gameplay holds up thanks to its setting and puzzles, although some aging mechanics mean this particular attraction may not be as popular as it could have been.

Crow Country

Set in 1990, players begin their adventure as Mara Forest, a young policewoman who is searching for Mr. Edward Crow, the elusive owner of the Crow Country theme park. His crow-themed amusement park closed down a while back, following paranormal sightings and a few mysterious accidents. Mr. Crow’s daughter reported him missing and she believes he might still be inside the abandoned showground. Unfortunately, among the unlit sideshows, frozen animatronics, and lopsided popcorn stands are shambling mutated horrors that put Mara’s pistol to good use. Some mutants take on a twisted human form, while others are basically a squirming puddle of organs on the floor, ripped straight out of The Thing. Dealing with these fleshy freaks can be tricky due to the enclosed spaces, clumsy aiming controls, and limited ammunition.

Luckily Mara is not completely alone on her journey. Some of the park’s workers are still around, keeping machines running under old instructions from Mr. Crow. They are a treasure trove of information about what happened and might reveal why they’re still here amidst the chaos. A lawyer is trying to find Mr. Crow as well, to issue him court papers relating to one of those publicized accidents. Most characters are oddballs and/or cryptic, which is a nice emulation of older games in tune with the text-box dialogue presentation. They manage to keep the story interesting and occasionally help Mara perform tasks. In addition to the meet and greets, notes and newspaper articles reveal more, providing adequate backstory while you search.

Crow Country

The theme park location is smartly designed and great to explore. Players will visit an arcade games room, a submarine attraction, an ocean-themed restaurant, an underground crypt, a haunted mansion, and a fairy town with a mushroom king. Plus there are rooms behind the veil, such as the employee offices and utility tunnels. Like Resident Evil 4, tiered keys (bronze, silver etc.) are used to unlock major doors, and maps helpfully indicate points of interest. Specific fireplaces in safe rooms are the only spot where the game can be saved, but these are never far away. Gradually, the world scope increases but never confusingly. Even when backtracking to transfer an item, navigating the park is agreeable due to shortcuts and the efficient world size.

Finding some items requires puzzle solving, and this is also where the game excels. Most of the main challenges are fairly basic, sometimes requiring memorization—those collected notes can only be viewed inside safe rooms, which is disappointing. Optional secret puzzles offer more difficulty and tend to be the best, more akin to point-and-click adventure tasks. You might need to add item prices in a gift store, to open a safe, or achieve specific scores on some arcade games, or work out the code by identifying train carriages on a show ride. There are musical puzzles too, which can be solved by rummaging around the world and looking for notes and their respective order. Side puzzles offer great rewards, including a flamethrower, shotgun, and extra grenades, plus they’re just a neat diversion from the exploring and action.

Crow Country

The combat against the mutants is unfortunately cumbersome, seemingly on purpose. The game only supports a controller on PC, and aiming at targets is not smooth or enjoyable. Even after a few hours, it was still a battle to get Mara’s weapon crosshair onto targets. It is partly awkward because of the 3D isometric perspective, since you have to first orientate Mara to get the crosshair to appear. If Mara is facing the wrong way, the crosshair might not rotate far enough or go missing due to the camera angle. Even with awkward battle controls, the combat is fairly easy because enemies are slow. All you need to do is run away, manually reload, and orientate properly. Action only gets tough in close quarters, and sometimes players will be forced to fight in a shoebox. Combat is generally optional too. Mutants linger around but most can be bypassed. Killing them does temporarily expedite navigation, although preserving ammo is a good reason to hold fire.

The park changes over time, with enemies and traps repopulating areas. Traps actually pose a more consistent threat, chipping away at health whenever you accidentally stumble into one. These include animal traps, glass vials with poison gas, and falling chandeliers, all which prove to be a consistent nuisance. From the isometric view, they are hard to spot due to their size and color. Locating them gets even tougher when the world transitions into night, and although they can be disabled with a bullet, players might need to freely rotate the camera and look, before they leap.

Crow Country’s visuals are even more retro than its gameplay. Characters have purposefully blocky designs, like they are made of primitive shapes (spheres, cylinders etc.) and use solid muted colors instead of textures. Areas beyond navigable spaces are pitch black, which is a technique seen in older games. Visuals are extremely pixelated too, with dark and blurry edges that obscure threats and give it an appealing tilt-shift twist. The visual design is good and consistent throughout, making the game look about as old as its setting, although more detail would not have gone astray. Sadly it has many load screens and these seem a little long on an SSD given the simple graphics.

Crow Country

Fans of retro survival horror games will find a lot to like if they buy a ticket to Crow Country’s mutilated freak show. With a great theme park location that gradually reveals itself, interesting characters, and a good collection of adventure puzzles, the design is quite cohesive. The mutated park guests look awesome, but they only offer a basic challenge as you battle more with the clumsy controls across the six-hour journey. But there is definitely good reason to fully explore Crow Country and it is just a question of how long you stop at each attraction.

Our ratings for Crow Country on PC out of 100 (Ratings FAQ)
The retro aesthetics are nice, with cool-looking mutants and a consistent pixelated style.
Combat is clunky but the puzzles and exploration side is great.
Single Player
A few oddball characters helps to keep the story focused across six hours. Notes also flesh out the background lore.
(Show PC Specs)
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600
OS: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
PC Specs

No performance issues but load times seem excessive for such a primitive world.
With neat retro visuals, smart puzzles, and an interesting theme park location, Crow Country is an appealing survival horror game that suffers a little from clumsy action and minimal challenge.
Crow Country
Crow Country box art Platform:
Our Review of Crow Country
The Verdict:
Game Ranking
Crow Country is ranked #833 out of 1983 total reviewed games. It is ranked #13 out of 37 games reviewed in 2024.
833. Crow Country
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Crow Country
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