Crystar (PlayStation 4) Review

By Eric Ace 27.11.2019

Review for Crystar on PlayStation 4

Developed by Furyu, Crystar mirrors two other games from this developer in style, substance and problems. Much like The Caligula Effect, and the much better received, Lost Dimension it is clear that this is not afraid to push boundaries, and delve into subjects others stay far away from. Crystar frequents topics such as suicide, death, and abuse - be warned if you are easily affected by these subjects before diving into this review.

Crystar treads on some novel terrain for a videogame, and for that reason it stands out among a lot of other RPGs with its focus on death and dark themes. An originality of a script does not translate into a good story, however, as this clearly shows. Far too often it merely presents unique ideas with heavy themes, and relies on its mere presence than any actual meaning or depth behind them. The story starts off fairly strong following the young protagonist, a girl named Rei, who is a soul trapped in Purgatory. She regains some of her memories and finds her sister. Fairly rapidly the plots progresses to Rei accidently killing her sister while in Purgatory, and having to take a contract from a demon to go rescue her. The only condition to save her sister is she must kill every soul she comes across in Purgatory.

Unique, strong and wholly refreshing it sets the stage for what seems like a great RPG romp, with a cool story to boot. Sadly, within only an hour or two major cracks start to appear, and as the experience wears on, these prove to be an absolute downfall of this title. The game follows a very formulaic pattern: a chapter is composed of three stages, all of which are three levels deep. A single level is composed of a very simple maze-like dungeon that the character runs through, fighting random enemies along the way.

Screenshot for Crystar on PlayStation 4

Typically there will be some small story sections thrown in, culminating in a boss fight. Battle, to be blunt, is a disaster. It is easily the worst part on offer. On the surface it seems passable; there are four characters to switch between, and combat is a real-time affair of moving around enemies, and using light and heavy attacks along with special skills. Additionally, a 'tear meter' slowly builds up, which enables unleashing a special creature that helps with the fight when full... but all of this sounds a lot cooler than it is.

The problem with combat is that it's incredibly stiff and clunky; add to this a nearly-non-existent AI, and it results in a mindless, pointless, button-masher. Attacks come out slow, and any 'combo' is really just either a light or heavy attack in sequential order, meaning there are no new combos, simply light attack #1,#2,#3 and heavy attack #1, #2, and #3. Almost every heavy attack takes incredible start up time, rendering them useless on the slowly bobbing enemies swaying mindlessly in front of the character like a disembodied punching bag waiting to be hit. Many of the light attacks are also borderline useless with equal delays, making some of the most effective patterns available revolving around something like attack-attack-dash, which cancels the pattern so the two quicker first attacks can be used again.

Screenshot for Crystar on PlayStation 4

Enemies and the AI are also a problem. A large majority of them are just re-skins of early enemies, and the same dragons, ghosts, and centaurs will be encountered throughout in various new shades. Most of them merely float towards you, circling around and very slowly attacking, often ending up dead before they can get an attack off. It was several hours in before healing was even needed once, and with an auto-use option of near-endless potions any difficulty is annihilated. Even bosses generally sit there, and as a personal challenge to try to make things more interesting, this reviewer would stand toe-to-toe and not dodge, slugging it out with the boss... who would die with relative ease.

Despite having four characters to change in battle, there is no real use to them, as they are not fundamentally different enough, and some of them are actually useless. For example the second character is supposed to be the fighter of the group, but her attacks are so slow, and so short ranged as to make her a problem to use in fights. Everyone has their own set of skills, but it is not an exaggeration to say that at least 80% of the skills are actively worse than just regular attacking.

Screenshot for Crystar on PlayStation 4

RPGs with bad battle systems are nothing new, and a story can carry a bad game. While very original, the story elements start to fall apart quickly as well. Every single person or story in here is designed to be "tragic," dealing with themes of suicide, death, abuse, neglect and so on. Some of these are memorable for their shock value, like a kid who dies while hiding in a refrigerator, but there is no depth to them. Players are presented with various shocking stories, and nothing comes of it. Even the main characters roll out various messed up pasts, and are back to joking the next scene.

For a game about crying, and how often the main character does it, the whole thing feels emotionally shallow. The character may cry, but there is little to show any actual thought, reflection, or nuance regarding what is happening. As an example, in the entire plot to save her sister, she has to destroy the souls of everyone she comes across. Sure some of them are bad, but what about the poor refrigerator-kid, or other innocent souls struck down by this merry band of murderers? This offers an incredible opportunity for some true depth or soul-searching about questions like "is this is worth it?" or "is one person's life worth more than others?" dealing with the guilt of such crimes, or anything really.

Exploring this topic would be praiseworthy, but instead it is merely ignored. Overall, the game felt like it wanted to push some boundaries, but was afraid to really go there. As a result, it feels lacking on multiple levels. The horrendous combat (and parallel bad grind) are not picked up by a story that engages. There are parts that are legitimately dark, but far too often they are simple dark/shocking for the sake of being so, rather than to be emotionally engaging.

Screenshot for Crystar on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

Endless grind, very slow progression, and an abysmal battle system, are the major knocks against what would otherwise be an average experience. The story itself is unique, but hardly goes into depth instead relying far more on shock-value of events occurring rather than actual meaning. Unfortunate, really, as the plot serves up a huge potential for some interesting questions, or dialogue - things that are completely missing.

Developer

Furyu

Publisher

Spike Chunsoft

Genre

Real Time RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date None   North America release date None   Japan release date None   Australian release date None   

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