Ginger: Beyond the Crystal is a 3D platformer that attempts to recapture the magic once produced by the likes of Crash Bandicoot and Banjo-Kazooie; a magic that has been sadly lost within a gaming landscape largely made up of large-scale AAA shooters and blockbuster titles. Sadly, what holds Beyond the Crystal back the most is not just its gameplay but a plethora of bugs and glitches that prevent it from capturing that classic feeling.
The game opens with a lengthy cutscene, beautifully setting the scene for the game. Ginger is a gift from a goddess and whilst that may sound a bit complicated in itself the actual full story is not the next Inception by any stretch of the imagination, (as it should be for a game of this genre) in fact it is rather simple. A mysterious figure has contaminated Crystals all across the land and it is up to you (Ginger) to take on the grand task of purifying each and every one from the hub worlds.
Ginger: Beyond the Crystal: Xbox One [Reviewed], PlayStation 4, PC
Developer: Drakhar Studio
Publisher: BadLand Indie
Release Date: 25 October 2016
Price: £15.99 [Disclosure: Game Copy Provided by Publisher]
Hub Worlds Return
Ginger: Beyond The Crystal takes place out of three unique hub worlds throughout the course of the game, with each having its own unique environment and feel, an area where the game really does excel – it’s design. Despite its obvious influences Beyond the Crystal is its own entity in the genre whilst still managing to take inspiration from some of the all-time greats in gaming. With the art style resembling that of classic 3D platformer’s but never copying them, it truly makes for a beautiful setting. However, perhaps the game does not innovate enough in that sense as you find yourself running around the hub worlds completing repetitive quests such as: “Find some logs”, “Kill these enemies” Or “Find some fish”. With that being said, they are entirely optional. What is not optional however are the two mission types that you will encounter throughout the game; Red Crystal Missions and Mirror Missions.
Missions Have a Familiar Feel
You will encounter these Red Crystal Missions and Mirror Missions throughout the hub world and these will advance the game in terms of main story progression. In Mirror Mission the game takes on the form of a side-scrolling 3D platformer similar to Crash Bandicoot. Throughout these missions you can run into prisoners that when you free them will gift you a new outfit, which is essentially the game’s replacement for powers; each outfit allows you to unlock certain areas throughout levels, allowing you to either complete it or access extra areas within the level along with others. Red Crystal Missions are essentially jumping puzzles that are simple enough to breeze through and not at all challenging to anybody well versed in the genre. The combat is also fairly straight forward, with you having a simple close range punch and a dash attack to dispatch of your foes, with it makes for an easy and fun experience, that is unless like me and many others you have to deal with the copious amounts of rage inducing glitches and bugs that are scattered all throughout the game.
Bugs, Glitches and Load Times Truly Hold the Game Back
Throughout the game, I experienced many bugs and glitches which often led to me dying for no apparent reason. Pinged through walls, thrown into the air, freezing mid-jump – causing me to die, the combat not working as intended at all, constant framerate stutters and worst of all hard crashes mid-game. All of this and more truly ruined a game that showed great potential. Whilst I reviewed the Xbox One version of the game it was reported that the game also suffered from these varying issues on PC. These types of issues are just not acceptable for a release on today’s hardware especially as frequent as they were. Not only was gameplay broken up by the aforementioned glitches but the exceedingly long load times really halt the flow of the game. I would load up the game and be forced to wait a couple minutes just to hit the title screen and from there it only got worse. Sometimes the load times would be around 30 seconds while others would be up to 3 minutes and this would happen randomly throughout the game. These load times coupled with the sheer amount of glitches and bugs mentioned above really do ruin an experience that had such promise.
Ginger: Beyond The Crystal really does do well in terms of its level design and art style but the overpowering glitches and errors that litter the game truly hold it back, making for a rather saddened experience. The game simply fails to capture the classic feel of the classics before it, but is still not an awful game and who knows, further down the line, these big issues and glitches may eventually be patched. Until then, these ruin a game that truly had the potential to bring back 3D platformers like Yooka-Laylee.