Crystar Review – A game to cry about?
Platforms: PC, PS4
Developer: Gemdrops Inc.
Publisher: Spike Chunsoft (EU/NA)
Release: 27th August 2019 (NA)
Crystar is a curious JRPG, centering about the ever prevailing theme of sadness in our world and lives. By crying you grow stronger, by being defeated and experiencing this sadness you will grow stronger until one day, you may reach your goal in a twisted world full of hazardous things. Yes, Crystar is a game that catches one with its premise and potential to interpret things into it, as well as its visuals. Having an Opening from anime studio Shaft is always a big plus (despite their talent bleeding) but featuring some of the most stylized, unique styles in recent Furyu JRPG history is something else entirely.
Rei looks like your typical anime girl protagonist, long, white hair, big eyes, a doll like dress and so on. However, this isn´t her story of finding the perfect school day but of her desperate journey to regain her sister she has accidentally killed and who´s
With this interesting premise …
If you can deal with this though, Crystar is still capable of offering a tale that feels fresh despite its missed potential. For one, Rei is constantly accompanied by two female “devils” that are simply a perfect mix between the mysterious, devilish “anime aura” and the actual tragic undertone of the whole affair. However, the true champions were Rei herself as well as her companions she meets on her way, all suffering under similar circumstances as her that slowly unfold. As the whole story, they never fully exploit their ideas but can offer stories that actually affect one way more simply because of their well-done execution, writing
Gameplay-wise though, the whole affair is similar in many ways to other Furyu published or developed games. In practice Crystar is a rather decent action RPG offering a
All this feels very standardly … stiff for a game of that calibre. Animations are a tad too long, not interruptable and reacting to enemy attacks doesn´t feel as intuitive as it should. Fortunately, enemies have long start-up animations as well, making them obvious to read and easy to avoid. Nonetheless, as easy as it is to stunlock enemies they can also stunlock Rei with ease, making a hit from them quite the annoying affair, especially since their attacks are quite strong. Combined with the boss battles, that feature either new or bigger versions of known enemies who you can’t interrupt nor stunlock, the combat ranges from a fun time of feeling overpowered to running around enemies waiting for their slow animations to finish and strike.
Speaking of overpoweredness, the main reason I never had much of a problem with Crystar’s combat while actually playing it, was the fact it’s one of the easiest games to be overleved in, at least subjectively. Even without grinding, the game never quite matches the players’ speed, throwing the same enemies at you with the same stats for 3-5 stages, even though they failed to make damage after 2 already and simply became punching bags. Since you can’t avoid most of them either, due to areas being blocked, it became a breeze to accumulate levels and destroy pretty much every enemy after 20 minutes in the whole stage.
Now Crystar also switches between those stages, making you go back to earlier ones for example while only slightly enhancing their power, letting them feel even easier to be honest. This problem isn’t as strong in the “hard” difficulty setting but I actually felt quite entertained by the short, effortless fights, simply because the enemies tend to repeat a bit too fast as well, making the overpowered Rei a fun toy to breeze through the more mundane gameplay sections.
On the other hand, Crystar dips into many other areas as well, like crafting weapons. For many slain enemies we gain different materials, similar to their “souls”, which Rei can transform into crafteable materials with her tears, which we can use to enhance our weapons or create new ones, same with armor. This is all heavily restricted, we can’t give a characer another weapon type nor is there more than one armor type. This is all very basic, as two souls basically craft one weapon of level 1, two level 1 weapons create 1 level 2 weapon and so on, the highest level being 4. And that’s it, basically. This is all well and good, though there’s one thing that always baffled me: Transforming the enemies into materials is done in an unskippable cutscene and since you always do that after every run, this quickly becomes an annoying repetitive little 7 seconds sequence which doesn’t even fulfill a true purpose since the conversion is 1:1 and needs no player input either way.
So, let’s talk about the one thing that made me love Crystar and kept me motivated to accept it’s kinda weird difficulty curve and unique but ultimately not fully fleshed out
All in all, Crystar is a unique game that mainly lives off of it’s out of the ordinary story, themes, despite their wasted potential, and its environments. It’s one of the most beautiful JRPGs I’ve played in recent years and I love pretty much its whole art direction. Combined with
[A Review Code was provided by Spike Chunsoft]