Review | Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time
"Crash will test your strength, will and nerves. He is back, stronger than ever and more complete than the first 3 games combined!"
Before we start, let’s point out one big difference when we talk about this franchise: For the first time in major titles development we don’t have Naughty Dog anymore, instead Toys for Bob were working on this game. Who are they? They remade the Crash and Spiro Trilogy. Knowing that, I can for sure say that I never feared about outcome of Crash 4.
I have no idea why it took 22 long years to get a sequel to Crash 3. This can only be a turn-off point for many players as I see it. A lot of time passed, people forgot about platforming in Crash, new players don’t have similar games offered…Many things can slow down the success of this title.
Why am I to blame? Cortex, pull yourself together, you need to beat your time trials!
Crash 4 is a direct sequel to Crash 3. If you even remember what happened 22 years ago. I don’t. It’s not even so important, story is not the core of these games, but it’s quirkiness and silliness are enough to watch all the cutscenes at least once. This time we are chasing Cortex through time dimensions while collecting masks (we will talk about them a bit later).
Our journey will be a hard one. Luckily, we have new friends! Tawna, Dingodile and Cortex will help as in a form or playable characters, with unique gameplay mechanics and move-sets. Remember Dingo? He was the boss in previous games. Somehow Cortex will also help, and I hate playing with him! He is the only one without the double-jump mechanics.
Another new add is the choice between the Modern and Retro playstyles – Modern will not spend lives, Retro will. We can say the Modern is easier but try playing the game first.
All playable characters - including the mask.
What do you get when you combine all 3 Crash games? Crash 4! Almost literally you will find as much content here. That is impressive to say at least. You can try your skill in more than 30 levels. There are Normal and Inverted runs – Inverted runs are mirrored normal levels, but with change of color. They are not pure copy-paste, for example hidden gem is on the different place and since the levels are designed to be fun, you will have no issues with replaying them if you want so.
Another good addition are the tapes – those you need to reach without dying. Otherwise they disappear and you need to restart the whole level. That is easy when you start, early levels are not that hard, but later you will need some serious skill for surviving until that point. When you do collect a tape, you can play tape level where you need to destroy all boxes without dying, in one go. That will grand you 3 reward points which you will need for a trophy. It takes forever to do a perfect run, good luck! They are fun if you like that kind of fun, full of jumping on crates.
It feels like playing over a CRT TV, but it feels much more harder (than is to carry that TV across the stairs!)
I loved the level design, although I miss a bit more beautiful sceneries, maybe few more driving levels or something a bit on that side. Not that you will need more content, just for collecting all the boxes and gems will take good number of hours, around 30-40h for sure! If you are hardcore you will want to collect 100% on every level without dying! Yep, you heard me. The difficulty spike just keeps on going up when you are closer to the end. That is maybe the biggest plus and minus of this game – casual players will simply avoid this game. You need to be very persistent even on Modern just to finish the level.
With the mask addition you will either love it or hate it. Masks are a new thing and there are 4 – unlimited spin, slowing time, dimensional trigger and gravity change. They change the gameplay and we can this as something fresh that is now in Crash! Believe me, your brain will melt when you need to combine few buttons at the same time!
Mask power! Unlimited spin is your key for those long jumps, just don't go near Nitro/Tnt boxes.
With all that being said, don’t expect that much has changed. Levels are still linear and 2D-ish, as they were. Graphics are cute, but nothing spectacular. I think the biggest plus is so much content, so many levels and so many ways to die.
Instead of maybe something new, they stick with the old but gold approach – if it was selling before, it will sell again. I’m the first to pay the price for games that I’ve played in my childhood, but new generations can find cons when it comes to paying the full 60 euros price. Considering the remastered trilogy was cheaper, this can be a warning sign.
I miss good platformers, so this was a great genre refresh in crash-style – crash is unique and always was.
Cute, it reminds me of one SNES game where you paint the surface as you walk on it.
I never experienced any glitches like falling from the edge of the platform, which was Crash 1 feature, nor I was stuck somewhere on the wall. Maybe 3-5 levels have that issue, but what do you think it will happen when you are literately trying to find a new shortcut? The only glitch i've found was when you change the gravity - on few places the invisible wall can kill you.
The parts where I had some frustrations were when you are riding a bear. I never knew what is the catch with speed-up and when I can use it. Shooting with Cortex sux, plus I hate playing with him the most. Actually, Crash is the best player, which makes you wonder why did they add others in the first place...
Technically the game is polished and the only part stopping you are yourself and your will for persistence. I would say that this is polished even more than the remastered trilogy. Toys for Bob made an old school game but made it hard as hell! Personally, I love that, the challenge is real, but it’s just not for everyone. Even the bonus levels make you feel like you are slightly knocked on the head or makes you think where is the catch. I died like 50 times in one bonus level before I noticed what to do to get all the boxes. Good thing they are not required. At least not for beating the game…
When you move from top to bottom, prepare to die. A lot. I missed this head like 20 times.
When you do beat the game and you really want more – try time trials. This time around you need platinum times for a trophy, you don’t have run skill, only triple spin and your fingers. This is what divides normal people from the likes of other – people that love to suffer and spend 3h playing the same level until they finish it in desired time. This is where you really see how well the game is made, everything fits perfectly and works flawlessly (well, almost!). I have no objections from any sides of my desires. This game is the king of platformers! Ok, maybe somewhere in that area if not the king.
By doing all of this - beating these hard challenges; you can also unlock costumes. I don't really cared about them, but someone might. I'm still not 106% done (which is a thing in Bandicoot games), so who know what awaits me. Maybe they will proclaim me mentaly unstable for getting the platinum in a game hard as this one.
Boss fights are cool, but not as nearly cool as I wanted them to be. Cuphead wins.
What to say for the end? Crash 4 is a pure sequel to once praised Crash titles. It is better in every segment, more polished and with few new and fresh ideas. You will get your money’s worth for sure, content and replay value goes in favor of developers.
If on the other hand you lack skill or just don’t have the will to repeat some parts over and over again – this is simply not for you. The game is challenging. Period. The game is full of hard challenges that will feed the beast inside of you and send it to the depths of hell! I’m not kidding, this game will break you and everyone around you. I just love it. I loved the Cuphead, but this is another level of pure satisfaction.
Look how silly! Silly is the new not-not silly.