Reviewed: June 10, 2007
Released: May 29, 2007
Itís not very often that a game completely reinvents its genre. Most games try to build off of a set standard. Puzzle games follow this rule more than any other genre. It isnít easy to come up a brand new way to test players through puzzles. This leads to a lot of puzzle games being very similar in gameplay.
Crush is the newest PSP puzzle game out there that tries to break the mold. It doesnít follow a set standard. It completely sets a new standard in puzzle games. Crush is like nothing youíve ever played before, and that is definitely a good thing.
The premise of Crush may sound complicated at first, but after you get through three or four of the levels you should have it pretty well figured out. Crush requires you to get from point A to point B while collecting marbles and hidden unlockables along the way. The obstacles in the game are the distances and open spaces between these points. Point A may be on a platform that seems like it is suspended a hundred feet away for the next platform. This is where Crushing comes into effect.
The camera can be rotated to top-down view or side views. In these views you can crush, or take a 3D environment and change it to a 2D environment. From a top-down camera angle you change it from a 3D top-down view to a 2D top-down view. You can change a 3D side view into a side-scrolling platformer view. Why is this relevant to the game? Well, that other platform that was a hundred feet away in 3D view is now easily accessible by crushing in side view. What was originally a hundred feet away is now a simple side-scrolling jump away. When you un-crush youíll find yourself on that far-away platform.
This works from a top-down view as well. If a platform is simply just to high to jump to change the camera to top-down view and crush to 2D. The platform that was out of reach before is now the same level as you. You can simply walk out onto it and un-crush. Youíll find yourself on that elevated platform that you couldnít reach before. Like I noted earlier, it is much simpler than it may sound.
The mechanics of the gameplay are easy but sometimes crushing may not be. You canít just crush anywhere. There are solid blue blocks in the game that you can not pass through in 2D after you crush. If you crush while standing in for of one of these blocks you may be pushed off of the platform. The same works in top-down view. If you are standing on one of these solid blocks the game will not let you crush into 2D. These solid blocks serve as barriers that you must overcome throughout the game.
The puzzles are ridiculously addicting. Unlike some puzzle games you really get a sense of accomplishment after completing some of the puzzles. Later in the game some puzzles could take some players up to an hour to complete. These contain several platforms at different elevations and distances apart. Cockroaches, cages, balls, blocks, and worms all serve as obstacles to overcome as well. These obstacles just add to the sense of accomplishment you get after completing some of the more difficult puzzles.
The game is made up of 40 of these puzzles. Some gamers may find the last 5-10 of these to be too mind-bending and give up. Like I explained earlier, some of these puzzles may take up to an hour to complete, and the last 5-10 will throw every obstacle found throughout the game at you.
Unlike most puzzle games Crush has a very intriguing story. These puzzles take place in the main characterís dreams. The main character, Danny, is an insomniac plagued by restless nights. Crush actually stands for ďCognitive Regression Utilizing pSychiatric Heuristics.Ē Itís a devise used to try and cure insomniacs. To free him from his insomnia you must complete all 40 puzzles in the game.
The game does an excellent job unfolding the story. After every 4-5 puzzles you are given a segment of the story where a piece of Dannyís past is unveiled. Youíll find yourself not only playing through the puzzles because of the gameís unique premise and design but also to find out about Dannyís past. Crush does an amazing job of tying unique puzzle solving and an intriguing story into one of the most memorable gameplay experiences on the PSP.
The visuals in Crush have a type of hypnotic atmosphere to them. In one level you may feel like you are at the carnival with a giant Ferris wheel. In another one you may find yourself in a beach-themed environment complete with beach balls. The environments will get you right into the experience.
Unfortunately, the character model isnít so well done. There is only one character that you can control throughout the entire game and that is, of course, Danny. You would think that with only one character design to do that it look good but it doesnít. Danny is tall, skinny, and hunches but that is about it. There is no detail to him. This doesnít really bring down the game in any way though. You can never zoom close enough to get a good look at him, so the lack of detail isnít that important.
Just like the graphics the music is also on the hypnotic side as well. Soft melodies that sound more like science fiction tunes play as youíre trying to solve the each puzzle. During the beach-themed puzzles you may also hear some seagulls in the background as well. It fits perfectly into this style of gameplay.
The voice-overs are also top-notch quality. You only hear these when the Professor and Danny are discussing bits of Dannyís past between every three or four puzzles, but they fit perfectly and really get you into the story. Both voice actors are over-the-top but intriguing at the same time.
If you own a PSP and you want a challenge and you donít own this game then go buy it. I canít put it any clearer. This game is a must have for your PSP. Even if you arenít typically a puzzle game fan, you should get enjoyment out of this game. For only $29.99 this game is a steal. It doesnít have any kind of multiplayer element, but who needs friends to play with when you have Crush.
Puzzle games have always been on the boring side to me. Most puzzle games follow a certain standard. Crush starts its own standard, and I have a hunch that many games will try and replicate it.