Crush PSP Review
A Super Paper Mario style idea, spliced with a hint of Psychonauts visual flair, along with a dash of the developers own brand of originality. That is probably the best way I have for trying to describe what the latest PSP puzzler, Crush, brings to the table. Of course, comparing it to two other games is, in a way, doing the game a huge disservice as it brings a lot more to the table than just ripping off two top titles. In fact, I dare say it is one of the most truly original games to hit the market in a long, long time.
As I stated above Crush is a puzzler, but unlike most other additions to the genre this one has a well thought out reason for why your protagonists has found himself in his particular puzzling problem. The tale to be told in Crush revolves around a young guy called Danny who has a severe case of insomnia. Instead of going to the doctor, like a normal person would do, Danny instead goes to an institute to meet with a man called Dr. Reubens who has a cure for his problem. The cure is a device called C.R.U.S.H, which stands for Cognitive Regression Utilizing Psychiatric Heuristics (yes Danny notices the mistake as well, damn those silent p’s). C.R.U.S.H helps Danny by letting him go into his own mind to root around and find out what is causing his problem. It is this innately clever machine and gameplay mechanic that leads to the game being so fun to play. In a nice twist for a puzzle game the story is fun to take part in and well told via some well drawn comic style cutscenes.
Unfortunately, now comes the part of the review where I have to try and explain how this marvellous mechanic works, now that is far from an easy task! Okay, first things first, the basic idea of the game is that you play in a 3D world, but you can choose to flatten this world from a range of different perspectives which turns the 3D world into a flat 2D one. To change perspective you use the d-pad and to flatten you give L1 a quick tap. Depending on which way you crush the world you can then reach a brand new place or scale ledges that were previously unreachable. From there things get a bit more complicated as different parts of the environment can only be passed by crushing in a certain way. For example, if there is a wall in your way then crushing from a top down view will squash it letting you walk straight through. If, however, you see a gap you cannot pass through you will have to crush from a side view which will squash all the platform together, once again letting you walk through.
As you move on things get much harder and more complex with many different kinds of blocks and other items introduced to make your head hurt that bit more. As a result you will have to use a combination of different crushes and think about ten moves ahead if you want to make any headway. Using these mechanics, accompanied by Danny’s basic jumping ability, you then move around levels picking up marbles, puzzle pieces and trophies before you make you way to the exit and onto the next level. Thankfully, even though Crush is the kind of game that will keep you awake at night thinking “what if I did it this way” it is also a game that will give you a huge sense of satisfaction once you figure out a solution to a problem you once thought was impossible.
Regretfully, the game is not without its problems and it has three main nagging nuisances that stop the game from been nigh on perfect. The first of these is that the main puzzle portion of the game consists of only 40 levels which results in the game feeling a tad shorter than you would expect. As a result of this there is no doubt that when you finally finish the game you will be left looking for more do which is rather disappointing. The next problem is that the game gets complicated very quick and after about ten levels it moves beyond the simple 2D into 3D theme and instead starts to throw items, and enemies such as tentacles and giant cockroaches into the mix to make levels a bit harder than they need be. The last point of contention is that once you get around half way through the game you have effectively seen almost everything the game can throw at you. In fact after level 20 you will notice many themes, and a puzzle or two, start to reappear. Thankfully, none of the levels are complete copies of the another, but the feeling of deja vu can get very strong the further you go into the game.
But regardless of what was said in the above paragraph the game is still a blast to play through. Even better is the fact that it is truly one of the few brand new ideas to hit the samey, me-too, environment that is the gaming industry in ages. Sure, it is not a game you are going to have a chat with your mates about after playing. Nor is it kind of game you will remember when you come to make your GOTY lists at the end of the year, but while it lasts it is immense and is truly one of those exceptional titles that deserves the praise that I and others give it. We all can’t be wrong, can we?
It is like playing Sudoku on a giant constantly rotating rubix cube while being chased by an angry bear… nevertheless it is still great fun!