I’ve been getting my hands on the demo of Crash 4 and I’m really enjoying what I’ve played so far.
It’s a wonderful celebration of what made the Crash games so special in the first place, spliced in with a gorgeous modern aesthetic, and some smart platforming to keep the game feeling current and fresh.
The demo features just the two levels, but one of them has an additional, alternate timeline that lets you play as Doctor Neo Cortex.
The Alternate Timeline offers a really unique concept, actually, because you not only get to play the bad guy for once – complete with his own unique abilities – but see the storyline of an individual level play out in a different way.
In Snow Way Out, Crash will need to traverse treacherous icy waters, hop between boats, avoid fiery blocks and at certain points, slow down time. It’s all about the mechanics and your 3D platforming timing skills until Crash seems set to go headfirst into a near-death situation.
Interestingly, through the alternate timeline, you get to see how it’s all set up as Cortex is the one who actually sets the trap!
Once that bridging sequence is complete, you then need to finish the level off as Crash – which is almost a complete repeat of what you’ve played before – but there’s additional traps and bonuses to discover to mix things up a little bit.
It’s a really smart idea because it not only adds longevity to levels, but also replayability. And just like previous Crash games, there’s plenty of hidden paths, secrets, and crates to discover to amp up your rewards.
As you’ve come to expect from Crash, he’s got his usual spin dash attack and can double jump, but with certain masks (such as the Kupuna-Wa) he can also slow down time -sometimes so you can timely strike an enemy, sometimes so you can jump across an icy fountain. Another mask (Lani-Loli) also lets you populate empty boxes and alternate between different obstacles.
The full game is set to feature many more, but the concept of masks is played around with enough in this demo that you get an idea of what to expect and how it’ll affect the flow of the action.
Cortex, meanwhile, plays a lot differently, and actually fires a ray gun which turns unsuspecting birdies into platforms or bouncy cubes full of goo. If you fire at the birdie a third time, however, you return them to their original state.
Cortex then does his best M Bison impression to navigate between them by spinning and dashing across chasms, or sliding underneath them. That also adds to the challenge of Alternate Timelines, as halfway through you’ll be controlling a character who plays completely differently.
The full game will also feature Coco as a playable character, but sadly we didn’t get to test her out here. I guess Toys 4 Bob need to save a few surprises for the full game.
The other level will feel incredibly familiar to Crash 1 fans who have distinct memories of being chased by a boulder. Only in Crash 4, it’s a raging T-Rex. Appropriately named, Dino Dash, Crash visits the very distant past and will need to react quickly to escape the ravenous jaws of the T-Rex.
Both are great levels, if not diabolically challenging in their own unique ways. And the way you play is entirely up to you.
Fancy playing the classic way, Retro Mode gives you a limited number of lives just like the old days. Collect Apples and Bandicoot badges to get extra lives and hope you don’t run out before the end of the level.
There’s also a new Modern Mode where you have unlimited lives, but you have a death counter in its place. The least amount of deaths, the better, but it at least ensures you can get through each level a little easier.
This makes Crash 4 more accessible than previous entries, but also pays homage to all that’s come before, brewing a perfect recipe for another worthy and entertaining entry in this legendary franchise.
We can’t wait to see what else they’ve done when the game releases October 2nd.
Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time launches October 2nd on PC, PS4, and XO. Pre-order now on consoles to receive early access to the demo.
Tested on PS4