Title: Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time
Available on: Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Developer: Toys For Bob
Official Site: Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time
Release Date: October 1, 2020
Version Tested: PlayStation 4
After 20 years, the long wait is over. Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time returns the classic platformer to modern consoles for its newest rendition, with updates to keep the series fresh. The story of Crash Bandicoot 4 follows the events of the last mainline Crash game from 1998, Crash Bandicoot Warped. After being imprisoned for years, Neo Cortex, N. Tropy, and Uka Uka have escaped by ripping a hole in time and space. To stop them, Crash and his friends must travel through different dimensions to stop the menace before its too late. Along the way, they will also collect special Quantum Masks that unlock new abilities.
Crash Bandicoot 4 is developed by Toys for Bob, who previously worked on the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy. You can tell that the development team has learned a lot from working on the new trilogy, primarily with the fresh changes to the gameplay.
Crash Bandicoot is Back, and Better Than Ever
In each level, Crash is dropped in and must jump, dash, and spin to the endpoint. The levels will also shift between behind-the-back to side-view perspectives, and the new Quantum Masks keep the gameplay fresh. Each of the masks unlocks new abilities, like phasing objects in and out of dimensions or switching gravity.
As you travel between dimensions, you will encounter a variety of worlds and enemies. From a Mad Max-style post-apocalyptic hellscape in Hazardous Wastes to a down-south New Orleans inspired world of Mosquito Marsh, each of the worlds has a lot of charm and uniqueness. Even in the same world, the levels change both in gameplay and visual style, so there is never the sense that you are progressing through the same content.
This is where Crash Bandicoot 4 stands out most compared to its predecessors, as the new abilities keep the gameplay fresh and varied. Later levels will also have you using multiple abilities to progress, which is a fun balance. To break up the standard Crash gameplay, there are sections where Crash must avoid obstacles while riding an engine-strapped surfboard or a cute polar bear.
Along with the masks, Crash has some friends to help him on his quest. Coco, for example, is an additional character but has the same abilities as Crash. Tawna uses her Hookshot to grab onto enemies and zip between a level, Dingodile has a vacuum that can suck up objects and shoot them out, and Cortex has a special laser gun that can turn enemies into platforms, as well as an air dash. Once you unlock these characters, you can then go back to previous worlds and play them with their specific abilities. It lets you see certain levels in new ways, which offers that extra bit of replayability.
Gameplay Additions Assist New Players
Thanks to a variety of playstyle options and gameplay assists, the game is accessible to players coming to the game for the first time as well as returning fans. At the start of the game, you two playstyle options, Modern and Retro. Modern allows you to start at checkpoints after running out of lives, while Retro will involve collecting lives and you must restart the level from the beginning when you run out. It’s nice to see these options available, as it gives players who prefer either or the chance to enjoy the game that way.
A major change from the original games for Crash Bandicoot 4 is the addition of the enhanced shadows. The shadows help a lot in the more difficult platforming sections, as they provide a visual indicator of where you will land. This is compared to old Crash Bandicoot games where it was more than easy to misjudge a jump and die. These additional indicators help to address the cheap feeling of dying because you just barely missed a platform.
That is not to say Crash Bandicoot 4 has been dumbed down. It is still very difficult, but instead of punishing it focuses on rewarding players that can complete the challenges. One way the game rewards is through the gem system. In each level, there are six gems to collect, from collecting Wumpa fruits to completing the level with a limited number of lives. By collecting the six gems, you can unlock new costumes for Crash and Coco. These let you customize your character the way you prefer, giving each experience a personal touch.
From a content perspective, this game is filled to the brim. The main game contains over 40 levels, and after progressing through a portion of the game you unlock the ability to play these levels in reverse order. Along with additional levels to unlock and time trials, there is plenty of Crash Bandicoot to jump into. My playthrough was between 8-10 hours, and that does not even count the massive amount of side content to take on. It’s insane (or N. Sane if you will) just how much content is on offer here.
Crash Bandicoot 4 Suffers from Poor Load Times
One aspect of Crash Bandicoot 4 worth mentioning is its poor load times. On the base PlayStation 4, loading into a level can take between 30 seconds to a minute. If you are one to replay levels until they are complete, this can be a serious issue. Hopefully, with a patch, this can be addressed. At the moment, it hampers the drive to go back and try to complete levels without dying.
Verdict: Even with all the various gameplay changes, this is still deep down in its heart a Crash Bandicoot game. Finding a balance that appeases both longtime fans and those that have recently picked up the series is tough, but Crash Bandicoot 4 has nailed it perfectly. This is a fantastic platformer to pick up and sink your time into.
- Charming level and world design
- Tight gameplay with a lot of variation
- Accessible for new players, yet still challenging
- A ton of content between the main story and side levels
- Poor load times hamper replayability