Since the runaway success of 2017’s Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, a completely new entry in this once dormant series seemed like a no-brainer. At least in terms of its potential to piggyback on nostalgia and Activision shifting copies by the shed-load.
However, when the publisher announced Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time, there was always bound to be that little bit of scepticism. Retconning those Crash games which followed Naughty Dog’s original trilogy and promising a direct sequel to Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped was a ballsy move. Can developers Toys for Bob pull it off? We dove into the pre-order demo to find out.
From what we’ve played of Crash 4 so far, it’s a resounding yes from us. Combining the classic platforming gameplay the series is known for with some clever new gameplay additions, Crash 4 is a convincing continuation of those much-loved PlayStation classics.
In the pre-release demo (here’s how to get it) there are three levels from the full game including Snow Way Out, Dino Dash, and Ship Happens. They give you a good idea of what to expect in terms of gameplay, level design, and the overall look and feel of the sequel.
The Crash 4 demo doesn’t mess around, throwing you right in at the deep end with Snow Way Out. If the name wasn’t a dead giveaway, this is a glacial gauntlet complete with slippery surfaces and thawing ice rafts.
The way Crash moves – running, sliding, spinning, and jumping – will feel instantly familiar to those who played the N. Sane Trilogy. However, you’ll also notice a couple of refinements. The manic marsupial now has a double jump which feels strange at first, but is something you’ll quickly weave it into your platforming flow, bouncing off crates and delaying the second jump to reach far away ledges. Another, smaller addition to Crash 4 is the new landing indicator. You’ll now be able to see exactly where Crash will land, though this ring will still be hard to spot when the camera pulls away for certain sections. Instinctively knowing the timing and length of jump will still be essential in mastering Crash Bandicoot 4.
Two big new features in It’s About Time are the Quantum Masks as well as the introduction of several different playable characters, including Coco, Dr. Neo Cortex, Dingodile, and Tawna.
The Quantum Masks can found during specific parts of a level, layering on gameplay mechanics such as the ability to slow time or phase objects in and out of the world. They may seem like a bit of a gimmick yet they allow Toys for Bob to weave challenging moments into their levels, especially when it comes to bonus stages. These will often require a mix of dexterous platforming and clever use of Quantum Masks to avoid hazards and smash every crate.
Speaking of crates, players are once again encouraged to snap up every piece of Wumpa Fruit they can get their furry fingers on. Instead of granting Crash an additional life for every 100 Wumpas you collect, they’re instead tallied at the end of each stage as a kind of performance indicator. While Crash has an infinite number of lives, your total number of deaths will also be displayed.
That’s unless you want to play Crash Bandicoot 4 on its “Retro” playstyle setting. There’s an option to toggle between this and the default modern ruleset, reinstating a finite number of lives for those platforming fans seeking a challenge.
Needless to say, the Crash 4 demo has left us wanting to play more. We’re curious to see what Toys for Bob have planned for Crash Bandicoot and his companions in terms of the game’s story and where it will take us as they embark on their time-hopping adventure to thwart Cortex once again. We can’t wait to see what kind of boss battles, spin-off stages, and Quantum Mask madness the full game will throw at us when it launches on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One next month.