Reissued on Wednesday, June 29, 2022: Following the announcement of the PlayStation Plus lineup in July, this review is back from the archive. The original text is:
It’s no exaggeration to say that the quality of the game after Naughty Dog broke up with Crash Bandicoot is inconsistent. However, Activision was finally successful with the N.Sane Trilogy mascot marsupials, a remake of the first three titles in the series. It was a huge success and relied on everything that brought the character back to the mainstream and made it forget nostalgia. With Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time, the franchise is back in full swing and stronger than ever.
This brand new entry is a great mix of old and new, regaining the unique and challenging gameplay of the classics and introducing all sorts of new features. In a direct follow-up to Crash Bandicoot Warp, you can see the villains Neocortex and N. Tropy trying to escape prison and, of course, take over the universe. When you start your adventure, it won’t be long before new ideas mix with the classics of the series.
To stop the bad guys, Crash and Coco need to track four quantum masks. Each grants a special ability that appears throughout the game. The first of these is introduced at the second level, and certain objects can be phased in or out of reality. As you progress, you gain other abilities such as gliding through the air with dark matter-powered spins, slowing down time, and reversing gravity. These are carried out at a steady pace, and despite the many levels, new concepts and challenges are constantly being thrown at you.
However, much of the gameplay is familiar to fans. Crash and Coco have the same move set — spins, ground pounds, and slides all come back, and most of the levels test your platform’s prowess. When a mask appears in a particular section, it can be more difficult because you have to think more complicated. Fortunately, everything feels great and has totally responsive controls. At a later stage, even an enhanced crash player will be pushed, especially if you’re trying to achieve everything.
In the middle of the game, it also gets a little bigger. As you progress through the main story, the timeline will be unlocked and you can play as a trio of different characters on these stages. Tawna uses her grappling hook and wall jumping skills for several unique platform challenges. Dingodile has a vacuum weapon that can fly TNT to enemies and obstacles. Finally, the neocortex itself joins the battle with an air dash and a gun that turns the enemy into a platform. All three of these additional allies are controlled in very different ways and are fun in their own right. There are some issues with aiming at each projectile, but every playable character adds something unique.
However, the timeline stage itself is a bit strange. They show different character perspectives on the stages you have already played. This is an interesting idea, but in the middle of the timeline level, it goes back to the crash and plays the second half of the previous level. The layout of the box will change, but it seems strange that you have to play a new angle at the level and then go through the sections you’re already familiar with.
As you progress, you will also find flashback tapes. These unlock the entire set of optional stages set before the start of the first game and actually push the skill to the limit. Next, N. There is a Verted level. It flips all stages horizontally, adds a crazy visual filter, basically doubles the number of levels, and collects collectibles. Frankly, the amount of work to do in Crash 4 is ridiculous. It takes dozens of hours to complete this, not only because it’s insanely difficult.
However, difficult jumps and strict time limits are not always a problem. Occasionally, we encountered some problems that robbed us of our chances of success. For example, a box that is only displayed for a certain period of time will not be displayed at all. Also, in another instance, the wumpa fruit I was collecting was not registered in the game. These were rare, but at the time of writing, there seem to be one or two drifting bugs.
These don’t ruin your time in Crash 4, and to be honest, you can be completely distracted by the look of the game. It has a great cartoon-like aesthetic with great character design, vibrant colors, and expressive animations. Throw in all the Easter eggs you can ask for, and this is a visual treat, whether you’re a big fan of the series or not. It’s all a blend of familiar fresh effects with some decent music, and sounds just as good.
We rarely talk about Crash Bandicoot 4: it’s about time, but rest assured that this is a return to the shape of the series. It can be difficult, but sometimes it makes a little sense, but it’s the right sequel that fans have been looking for. With so much to see and do, this is a stylish and confident 3D platformer that will bring Crash back to its best.