Crystal Rift

Crystal Rift
Developer: Psytec Games
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £7.99
Nausea: Limited/Dependent on VR Experience
Controllers: DS4 Only

From the developers that brought us Windlands comes Crystal Rift; an often frightening dungeon-crawler, which is just about worth the price tag. 

Crystal Rift is a simple game. Your goal is the make it to the end of over twenty dungeons, battling monsters, finding keys and solving puzzles along the way. Each dungeon has a different theme, such as poison or fire and each has a slightly different look to suit said theme. Some also have specific enemies such as poisonous, gelatinous, goo monsters that cannot be killed or a hench magma man looking to knock you out in one punch.

One of the first thing I noticed about the game was just how clear the graphics are. They are simple but this appears to work strongly in the games favour. The words on the menu screen are probably the cleanest and easiest to read in PSVR so far, and I’m still stuck on an original PS4, not a PS4PRO.

There are four difficulty settings, ranging from Beginner, in which you have an unlimited amount of lives, to Knightmare, where it’s game over after one hit. If you lose all of your lives you go back to the last save point. If you’re careless it can be extremely easy to lose all of your lives in quick succession. There was one area in which I kept losing my patience: as soon as I would respawn I would press forward to get going again as quickly as possible, but I kept forgetting I needed to turn left and so I ended up continuously falling into a pit of lava – the scream you hear when dying is both shocking and terrifying.

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There are many collectibles to found on your dungeon crawl, including these notes.

To work your way through the dungeon you must avoid obstacles, such as falling spikes and bottomless pits, defend yourself from enemies, and find keys to unlock the many doors. The keys aren’t difficult to find and are generally hidden behind the dungeons’ many obstacles. Along the way you’ll also find notes, which often have something comical written on them; potions, which give you extra lives, and collectibles such as skulls and statues. There are also hidden rooms to find, either by knocking down walls with your sword, or by finding and pressing secret bricks.

The combat in Crystal Rift is very primitive, even more so than Minecraft. Unlike Minecraft, when you can hit your enemy  anytime you’re close enough to it, here you have to wait for the right time. You can’t just hit it constantly until it’s dead, though it feels like that is exactly what you should be able to do. Combat this shallow is not the end of the world, just be aware going in that it’s not the games best feature.

The VR immersion is well executed here. At times I felt as though I was in an episode of Knightmare – but without the interesting NPC’s or the interaction with friends. So it’s not really like Knightmare at all, but it did start me thinking about how wondrous an asymmetrical multiplayer dungeon-crawler game might actually be. The music works well but does increase in volume and intensity seemingly at random, then you realise it’s because a enemy or tricky puzzle is approaching. It’s an odd and slightly cheap mechanic.

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Some enemies, such as this glob of goo, cannot be killed and must simply be avoided.

As someone with their VR Legs I found the game to be perfectly fine when it came to nausea. The turning is done in incremental degrees, which seems to help best with players new to VR, and there are more comfort settings in the VR options menu. There is even an option to play out of VR as well if it all gets too much, but I can’t fathom why you’d want to – without VR it’d be an overwhelmingly average game.

Crystal Rift is much scarier than I thought it would be. Being trapped in a dark and and ominous dungeon is off-putting at best, horrific at worst. It’s almost reminiscent of something like Doom, though mainly for the first-person, fear-factor element, not the combat or gunplay. If the game was not in VR it would not be scary at all.

The game will last you much longer than you’d think. The first four dungeons alone took me over an hour, and there are twenty-four in total. However, seeing as how simplistic the gameplay is, you may well end up bored long before the last dungeon. If the levels had been procedurally generated then this title’s replayability factor would have sky-rocketed. Maybe there’s a chance for that in a sequel, or a game by another developer.

This is the second title by developers Psytec Games and although it’s not as exciting as their first, Windlands, it won’t break the bank and is enjoyable for a time.

Verdict: 6/10 – It’s not the worst PSVR title, but nowhere near the best either.

Peter
@psvrreviews

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