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Crow Country review — A PS1-inspired horror devoid of scares

Crow Country review header
Image: SFB Games

It’s clear from the screenshots on this page that Crow Country is inspired by survival horror classics of old – it looks like a game that could have been released on the PlayStation One alongside Resident Evil. Though while its inspirations are clear, it unfortunately falls short of them in a number of key areas.

Crow Country puts you in the shoes of Mara Forest, who’s just arrived at the Crow Country theme park. She’s there to try and track down its owner: a Mr. Edward Crow, whose sudden disappearance is mysterious to say the least. It’s not long until you discover the now-closed theme park isn’t safe, either. With everything from strange zombie-like creatures to gelatinous blobs roaming its attractions, your investigation isn’t going to be easy.

In terms of gameplay, this is a classic survival horror experience. As you explore the Crow Country theme park, aside from having to avoid or deal with enemies, you’ll find an abundance of puzzles to solve. Some are easy, simply requiring you to find an item elsewhere before returning with it to put it to good use. Others are more fiendish, demanding that you find clues in notes dotted around the place — perhaps you might need to find a code for a control panel.

Crow Country review body
Image: SFB Games

Some of Crow Country’s puzzles do verge a little on the obscure, however, which can be frustrating at times. You might feel the urge to peek at a guide if you’ve been running around for half an hour or so at your wits’ end, not sure what you need to do to progress. And when you do figure it out, you’ll be mostly elated but also sometimes left wondering “how on earth was I suppose to figure that out?”. For some players, that will be part of the draw of Crow Country, though: it has many secrets to discover that don’t come easy.

Related: The best, and scariest, horror games on PS5

While the puzzles are mostly a strong point for Crow Country, combat is not; for the most part it’s simply awkward. Hold the aim button and Mara will raise her currently equipped weapon, her feet firmly stuck in place. You can then aim your targeting reticule with the left stick on both the X and Y axis. This wouldn’t be too bad if it wasn’t for the zoomed-out camera, which makes aiming a little more fiddly than it should be.

Thankfully most enemies don’t even make a move for you until you’re in close proximity, which makes things feels a little daft at times. Some of the sturdiest foes can be easily taken down just by keeping your distance. In fact, you’re more likely to get hit by an enemy simply because you can’t see them.

Crow Country
Image: SFB Games

While screenshots on this page may suggest that the game has fixed camera angles and pre-rendered backgrounds, Crow Country is actually entirely in 3D. That means you’re in control of the camera, and unless you check all angles, you might miss important items or get caught unaware by a foe lying in wait.

There are some other frustrations as well. The game’s save system is archaic, for example, a relic of the 90s that shouldn’t exist in the modern age. You need to find sources of fire to save your game, and if you haven’t recorded your progress for a while and then unexpectedly meet your demise, you could lose minutes or even hours of progress. Late in the game you can’t trust picking up items on the ground, either. Many are booby-trapped, you see, exploding when you touch them. It feels unnecessary.

Despite all this, though, it’s hard to deny that Crow Country has charm. It’s not scary in the slightest, which is a bit of an issue for a survival horror game, but its story is relatively interesting and its puzzles are enjoyable for the most part. It’s also great that you can tweak various aspects, such as whether you want to play with tank or modern controls, or enable a lives system. While it’s unlikely to be remembered alongside the classics it’s inspired by, then, Crow Country is still worth a play.

This review of Crow Country is based on the PS5 version, with a code provided by the game’s publisher. It’s available on PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X/S and PC.

Crow Country review - GameSpew's score

Crow Country
7 10 0 1
Inspired by classic survival horror games of the '90s, Crow Country's puzzle-laden gameplay is enjoyable on the whole. It's not scary in the slightest, though, and its combat is a bit of a let-down. While fans of the genre might want to check it out, then, it's unlikely to be remembered as a classic itself.
Inspired by classic survival horror games of the '90s, Crow Country's puzzle-laden gameplay is enjoyable on the whole. It's not scary in the slightest, though, and its combat is a bit of a let-down. While fans of the genre might want to check it out, then, it's unlikely to be remembered as a classic itself.
7/10
Total Score

We like...

  • Enjoyable puzzles for the most part
  • Its story is interesting
  • Charming visual style

We don't like...

  • It's not scary
  • Some puzzles are very obscure
  • Combat is disappointing
Editor in Chief // An avid gamer since discovering the wonders of the Acorn Electron in the '80s, Rich has nearly played more games than he's had hot dinners. Not one to put all his eggs in one basket, Rich is happy to play games of all genres, but he particularly enjoys racing games and anything that's full of non-stop action, especially if it includes a good dose of humour, horror or crudeness!