Crystal Rift PS4 Review

Publisher: Psytec Games  Developer: Psytec Games  Genre: Adventure  Players: 1  

Age Rating: 12+  Other console/handheld formats: N/A

Clearly inspired by dungeon crawling games of the past such as King’s Field and Dungeon Master, Crystal Rift is one such game with a difference though, with the potential for the first person grid-based game to immerse you even more into its dank environments thanks to the magic of VR. Even though the game was designed with VR in mind, if you’d prefer to play in the more traditional manner, then it’s also possible to play Crystal Rift on your TV screen.

Crystal Rift is a game with very traditional rules and puzzles, which is sure to please those looking for such a simple throwback to the days when finding coloured keys, pressing switches, moving boxes, and heading deeper into the dungeon to unearth more secrets was the thing to do. The game even has crude combat, and a grid-based movement system, with both of which taking some time to get used to.

You’ll find yourself battling many repetitive enemies, although to be fair to the game, new enemies are still being introduced far into it.

Starting off very simple with its first dungeon, this is merely a taster as to what is to come, with Crystal Rift’s environments becoming more and more devious, with each trap being introduced, and being later combined with one another in some dungeons. There are chasms to fall down, narrow paths to traverse, swinging axes to pass, rising and falling spikes to avoid, fireballs to dodge, and more as you try to make your way from the start of the dungeon to the next.

The amount of lives that you begin with in each dungeon is determined by the difficulty level that you choose. Easy gives you unlimited lives, normal grants you five, hard gives you as little as three, and the most difficult Knightmare option only spares you a single life to play with.

The story is basic but intriguing; with snippets being revealed to by documents that you find on your travels. There are also further secrets to be found by finding skulls in each dungeon, and some of these are well hidden away, so require a lot of exploring before you are able to collect them.

All the above works well enough, although it soon becomes apparent that the combat is shockingly bad, and even having swords with different powers does little to offset this. There’s no real strategy to the fighting, with striking and then jumping back being the best method to defeat most enemies. It really is basic beyond belief, and even though the game obviously draws much of its inspiration from days gone by, the combat used here is something that should have definitely been left in the past.

The visuals are very basic, but they do come to life more when played in VR.

Another flaw is that you can alter the scariness of the game, although the truth of the matter is that even when it is turned to extreme, Crystal Rift is not a scary game in the slightest.  Horror can be such a successful experience in VR, with my older brother screaming like a girl when playing PlayStation VR World’s Ocean Descent and the Resident Evil Kitchen demo on Christmas Day being excellent examples, although even in VR, Crystal Rift is a very poor horror experience, and you really would have to be very easily scared to be affected in any way by the so called scares on show here.

As I said earlier, the game can be played with the PlayStation VR headset or on your TV screen. Both work very well, although it’s in VR where the game offers the most immersion. It really does feel all the more claustrophobic with the headset on and as if you are making your way through each dungeon. With that said, if you have a PlayStation VR at hand, and as long as the game doesn’t make you sick, then this is definitely the manner in which I would recommend you to play the game.

Crystal Rift has a couple of glaring flaws, but the puzzle and exploration aspects of the game are successful enough, and bring to mind games such as Dungeon Master, Eye of the Beholder, and King’s Field, which was the goal of the developer. As long as it doesn’t make you ill, playing the game in VR also adds so much to the experience. With over 20 dungeons and secrets to discover there’s a fair bit to like here, but the dull combat and falsely advertised scares do let things down somewhat.