The Crash Bandicoot 4 subtitle “It’s About Time” is extremely fitting, as it’s been a whopping 22 years since the last numbered entry released back on the PS1. There’s been a lot of changes and evolution in 3D platforming since, but has this latest entry changed with the times, or does it stick to its roots?
Well not only does it stick to its roots, it embraces them, and no doubt this would please the hardcore fans of the series. Everything you remember doing in the 90’s (or if you bought the more recent Crash Trilogy remake) you’ll be doing plenty more of that here. Thankfully though, Crash has some more moves up his sleeve.
Crash now uses the power of new masks that give new abilities. These masks play a critical part of the story as they must be collected to prevent N. Tropy and Neo Cortex from conquering all dimensions. The powers these masks give add a much needed shakeup to the gameplay, as you’ll gain the power to slow time, reverse gravity, and more. While these new additions greatly improve the regular formula, I just wish they were utilised more. When you have the chance to use these masks, usually it’s for a relatively short amount of time, and more ideas could have been implemented had we been able to use the masks for a longer period.
The later levels do allow for multiple masks to be used, and they really do ramp up the variety and challenge, but you’ll have to wait towards the final levels of the game.
Some other news ideas come in the form of more playable characters, who all play differently and have their own unique abilities. I feel like they dropped the ball a bit here because they could have created some real unique levels that make the most of these new abilities, but instead played very much like Crash’s levels. Of course there are moments of using their abilities, but it wasn’t enough to justify having new characters.
The idea of having separate levels for these character that show a different perspective of events was a very cool idea, I will admit.
Apart from that, everything else is very familiar, almost too familiar. I do wish that this game showed a bit more ambition, only because I felt like I had done it all before. The structure of the game replicates the original in the form of linear levels, destroying boxes, and making your way to the end of the level. If there was a bit more evolution here, it would have held my interest better and would’ve felt less like I was just going through the motions. To be fair though, there was one particular section in the second last level that had you going through what seemed like a ‘mask gauntlet’, where you played through a rather difficult section constantly changing your abilities to get through. It was almost Celeste-like and it was brilliant! More of that innovative gameplay would’ve done wonders for this game.
I think the most impressive part of this game though is the amount of content and replay value. If you’re a completionist, be prepared to replay these levels many times over for collecting gems, time trials, and a lot more. There’s even modes that allow for co-op for 2-4 local players that felt like a real throwback to multiplayer before online gaming. It was a real thoughtful idea that will only create memories for anyone who takes advantage of this.
I think it’s great that the developers really tried to squeeze everything they could out of this game to ensure fans had many reasons to come back.
Crash Bandicoot 4 is a solid 3D platformer that throws in some decent new ideas along with all the nostalgia. I don’t think those new ideas were quite enough to make this game feel as fresh as it should, but it’s still a great effort on behalf of the developers. Combine that with the great replay value and this game will please long-time fans as well as newcomers.