It has been far too long since Crash Bandicoot has graced the gaming world with a fresh new adventure. Sure, it's been fun to take some nostalgia trips with the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, but all that did was show the potential of what a new entry in the series was capable of delivering. Now there's an all-new Crash on the way with Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time, which features a new story, new playable characters, and classic 3D platforming. I recently had a chance to go hands-on with the pre-order demo to see if this new chapter in the Crash series is on the right track.
One thing that amazed me about the N. Sane Trilogy was that developer Toys for Bob was fully able to replicate the old-school Crash experience while also making it feel modern. It looks like it belongs in today's gaming era while also playing like a timeless classic. Refreshingly, the stages in the Crash 4 demo feel like more of the old series formula. They feel like they would fit right in with the original trilogy, with the object being to break boxes, jump safely across platforms, and reach the finish line. Crash retains his main arsenal of moves, which include jumping on enemies and defeating them with spin moves. However, Crash 4 does have a handful of new tools to play with.
It may take a while for players to notice this, since the demo offers little tutorial information and doesn't offer a controller map of any sort, but Crash has a double jump. The double jump allows for Crash to make longer distance jumps and reach for higher objects. Granted, ice level Snow Way Out may not have been the best place to practice the double jump, but it's nice to have it available.
The other key tool is an object called the Quantum Mask. This allows Crash to briefly slow down time and is used mainly for limited-time platforms or for taking on quicker enemies. It also helps for some of the trickier platforming sections, such as an area in Snow Way Out where Crash must navigate moving glaciers.
But as the demo indicates, Crash 4 is not all about the lead bandicoot. There's a different stage that puts players in the role of the evil Dr. Neo Cortex. Cortex plays slightly differently. He'll still utilize standard platforming mechanics, but he mainly relies on his ray gun, which can transform enemies into hard or bouncy platforms. Players must determine which platform will help them get to where they need to go while also combining Cortex's jump with a forward dash that lets him travel farther distances.
The way in which Toys for Bob weaves the narrative into some of the stages is also something to watch for. After completing the Cortex stage, a cutscene played out where he tried (and failed) to destroy a passing Crash. After watching Cortex cartoonishly foil himself, the game then segued back to a playable Crash, who was now navigating a more difficult version of the Snow Way Out stage, made harder by Cortex's machinations.
Crash 4 will look to cater to both the modern player and the old-school Crash fan. Those with the demo will notice a Modern and Retro setting. The former will give the player infinite lives, though the game will taunt them by counting their deaths. And these stages aren't easy, so expect to see that number rise into the double digits. The Retro setting is old-school Crash with a limited life counter. Players can earn extra lives with 100 Wumpa Fruits, but if they run out of lives, it's Game Over.
Those who played the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy and were left wanting more classic Crash action may be left satisfied with this new effort from Toys for Bob. Of course, this demo is just a vertical slice and there looks to be a lot more to dive into, including new playable characters beyond Crash and Cortex. Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time will release on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on October 2.
These impressions are based on a PlayStation 4 demo provided by the publisher.