Timely. Yes, I know it’s cheesy and quite ambitious to begin this preview with that exact term, but Crash Bandicoot 4 comes just in time at our current generation’s final days leading into the much anticipated arrival of both the PlayStation 5 and XBOX Series X. However, one thing that has been demonstrated for those fortunate to have had hands on the Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time Demo – which you can now access and play today by digital pre-order – is that the franchise itself is Timeless. Chalk another one the scoreboard for pun-tastic segueways. Thanks to Activision, I got a chance to explore Crash’s latest outing, in all three levels available in this preview, and I’ll tell you here and now that if you thought the N. Sane Trilogy was challenging, then Crash Bandicoot 4 is prepared to make its official predecessor’s look like child’s play.
I am not kidding when I exclaim this; Crash Bandicoot 4 will challenge your patience. With only a sampler of what is a foreboding feast at hand, Crash’s upcoming chapter dares to put experienced players and devotees to the test. This is not your run of the average mill style platformer with brand new “Mask” mechanics introduced to toy with interactable items and dynamic map structure. Slowing down time to leap through cavernous craters and icy cavities, using a plethora of plummeting objects that allow you to essentially construct your own path or shortcut. The creativity of this feature is insanely innovative. Sure, some may say it’s not ground-breaking example of gaming development, however after successfully executing a string of sullied attempts to get our batty champion from one end of the level to another, the appreciation of in-game engineering and subtle nuances begin to spotlight how faithful this sequel truly is to the Naughty Dog classics.
Sprinting, sliding and spinning your way through the trio to trying maps laid before you will give put your muscle memory back into gear, hoping your dextrous deftness are set to hyperdrive. Not to say that controlling Crash or the Evil Dr. Neo Cortex is anything to be feared of, but rather it’s re-acquainting yourself with Crash’s gameplay loop, and the subtle upgrades that impose a desired fluidity that takes the franchise to another level. If you recently revisited Vicarious Vision’s Crash N. Sane Trilogy, then you will have no qualms with adjusting your skillset to match Toys for Bob’s take on the corridor platformer. It’s traditional Crash Bandicoot, a linear hop, skip and a jump, collecting delicious Wumpa Fruits while crushing wooden crates to get from point A to point B. As shown here, the Crash Bandicoot formula needed to extra spice to better its undeniable adequacy.
Progression will be enhanced by cinematics that in-turn modify the narrative and could possibly see us revisiting certain levels – only for time to have modified its dynamic terrain – it sure does make for quite the intriguing plot and gameplay loop. Grasping subtle differences between each character, Crash and his traditional talents contrasts Cortex’s monotonous pacing while armed with a menacing musket, along with his levitational attire giving players a little more freedom to roam the map. Zipping and zapping through a variety of vicious villains, Cortex has the ability the transform any confronting contender into a concrete platform or a buoyant springboard, all while expeditiously soaring across ominous enclaves that may remain hollow or entail dastardly inhabitants ready to strike.
Remaining faithful to the original source material in 2020 could prove difficult for some developers, however Toys for Bob has demonstrated an incredible feat in Crash 4, within this triad of trying trials. Whether it be equilateral, left to right, back to front, or being chased by an angry Tyrannosaurs-Rex, players will no doubt embrace this return to form. After generations of fans begging, shouting and clamouring for the esteemed franchise to return to its roots, Activision were not doubt ready to re-explore its concrete foundations that put the babbling bandicoot on the map. With Mandy Benanav (Minecraft: Story Mode) drafting its promising plotline, and Cyberpunk 2077’s Walter Mair composing an astoundingly familiar delivery in tone for the title’s delightfully diverse soundtrack, provides promise that we’re set for Crash’s canonised continuation after two decades.
With only a sampler of what is a foreboding feast at hand, Crash's upcoming chapter dares to put experienced players and devotees to the test.
Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time delivers hope to devotee’s who are looking to eradicate and overwrite awful memories of Eurocom, KAOLink (Although I personally enjoyed Twinsanity), Radical Entertainment, and Vivendi’s attempt to reinvent the wheel. Crash Bandicoot 4 looks to honour its influence and inception, hoping to make its original developers proud. Naughty Dog have come a long way since the series’ inauguration in 1996, carving a legacy beyond the platformer, however displaying traits of the furry marsupial’s escapades in its later franchises such as The Last of Us and Uncharted. Toys for Bob are set to release this love letter to the anticipation of those salivating at the thought of re-acclimating themselves to the mystique and magic Crash Bandicoot evoked in its initial trilogy, and let me tell you it’s certainly going to be a hog-wild ride when it lands.