Certainly one of gaming’s most well known mascots, Crash Bandicoot has returned for his fourth official mainline title. It’s about time too, with Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped releasing way back in 1998. Reviews have started rolling in for Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time and it’s pretty safe to say that most people are pretty damn happy with the game’s release. In fact it’s sitting on a comfortable 86 over on Metacritic, with most critics agreeing that developer Toys for Bob have created a faithful Crash release, pushing the franchise forward into some fun directions.
For those waiting for the Checkpoint review on Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time, you’ll unfortunately have to wait a little longer as we strive to complete the game before submitting our final thoughts. However we did fortunately get access to a demo of Crash Bandicoot 4 which gave a pretty good overview of what you can expect within the final release. Three levels were found within the demo and whilst my Crash skills were too rusty to 100% those levels, I was able to complete them and finish the demo.
It was always going to be so difficult for a development studio to pick up the Crash franchise and make a faithful Crash Bandicoot game. The original titles are so iconic and at this point it’s become clear that if you fiddle with that formula too much or aren’t capable of replicating the exact movements and controls, players won’t be happy. I’m not necessarily one of those avid Crash diehards who will notice any slight difference, but I can say that the controls don’t feel perfect, yet are still pretty good. You’ll be playing with the Crash Bandicoot 3 control scheme complete with slide and ground-pound. It may take a little time to get used to how Crash handles here but I feel like I picked it up pretty quickly and you probably will too.
The demo itself showcased 3 stages of the game that offered a pretty good range of different platforming and gameplay elements. The first 2 stages, one a slippery and icy affair and the other a dinosaur and lava filled world, played as pretty standard yet expanded Crash stages. The third stage offered something a little different, but I can touch on that later.
The ice stage was our first chilly look at Crash Bandicoot 4. It was a somewhat challenging stage to throw players into for their first go but it also helped to teach players what they should expect from the full release. The standard Crash formula is here with fixed camera angles, tight controls, a plethora of platforming perils and a fun world to romp around. Crash Bandicoot 4 is still linear although it did feel like you had slightly more room to move around in any given stage.
The prehistoric stage reintroduced the classic Crash moment of the chase, where Crash runs towards the camera as something looms behind him. This time it was a T-rex and it was an absolute delight to experience. It just felt so comfortable and nostalgic.
Also introduced within these first two stages were the Quantum Masks that alter the world around Crash pretty drastically. The first one you’re introduced to is a mask that allows the player to slow down time at the click of a button, allowing Crash to make some otherwise impossible jumps or reach a timed block before it expires. I also came across another mask in the demo that moved Crash between two different planes of reality, each containing their own obstacles that you had to swap between to ensure Crash’s safety. It was a good introduction into these Quantum Masks and it became pretty clear just how many different gameplay elements could be introduced with this one mechanic.
The third stage in the game’s demo was where things got somewhat interesting. In this stage you revisited the original icy world although there’s some pretty big differences. Within this one stage you were able to play as both Crash and his nemesis Neo Cortex who you realise was in this area at the same time Crash was. In fact there’s even a moment where Neo causes an explosion that Crash faced in the first level of the demo, giving further context to that moment. It’s here you realise that Crash 4 is able to play with time a bit more and is capable of revisiting older timelines and telling a less linear narrative. It works great for the game and creates an “aha!” moment that’s fun as a player. In this stage we also get to take back control of Crash in a remixed and more challenging version of that original stage.
Ultimately Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time just seems like a really fun way to revisit a classic franchise. It’s easy for some IPs to get lost to time but I’m very excited to see Crash continue to kick goals and move forward. The game stays true to its history and knows what players want from it. We can’t wait to see more of this title and really get stuck into the game now that it has released for PS4, Xbox One and Switch