Review: Crystal Rift (PS4/PSVR)

Formats:

  • PlayStation 4
  • PC
  • HTC Vive
  • Oculus Rift
  • OSVR

Format/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • 4K

Extras:

  • PlayStation VR Optional
  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
Title: Crystal Rift
Format: PSN (1.06 GB)
Release Date: November 29, 2016
Publisher: Psytec Games Ltd
Developer: Psytec Games Ltd
Original MSRP: $12.99 (US), €9.99 (EU), £7.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: T
PEGI: 12
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
There are some experiences that would otherwise be rather shallow were it not for the newness of the VR experience. Crystal Rift is one of them. Being one of the first role-playing game-like experiences on Sony’s VR headset, and I use the term “role-playing” very loosely, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the “ooohs” and “aaaaahs” of running through a dungeon in virtual reality, getting lost in the dingy lurid hallways and fighting underworld creatures in an intimate first person mode that only this technology can provide.

But I had to step away and ask if I would enjoy this game as much if I wasn’t playing it in stereoscopic head-tracking VR. The answer is probably not nearly as much. I come at this with experiences like Eye of the Beholder and Legend of Grimrock under my belt.

This is a very simplistic dungeon explorer with no inventory to manage, levels to gain, or characters to develop. It’s not a terrible way to see what the future might hold for role-playing games under the headset, but it’s not an experience that you’ll be talking about years from now. It’s pretty forgettable actually.

Even the combat involves one-button sword swings, with an alternate attack derived from holding the attack button down. There’s no Move support here, so don’t expect a 1:1 combat mechanism, which is something that might have added a bit more immersion to the experience.

… a very basic dungeon exploration game …
There are some hilarious moments in the form of signs littered across the dungeon with some amusing messages written upon them, and while you don’t have an inventory system, you will find a few variations on weapons and magic, so not everything here is all that bad. Just temper your expectations as you’ll have a very basic dungeon exploration game with some minor puzzles and some traps to avoid.

The game is playable with or without the VR headset. In terms of VR locomotion, there are options for turning in blinks which reduces the potential for sickness. It also offers the option of playing while sitting or standing. I played this sitting, since it’s a slightly longer experience than other VR games.

Visuals:
The game looks and moves pretty smooth in VR, but falls short of impressing in any other way. Despite its simplistic design, Crystal Rift still lacks any style that makes the basic approach stand out as opposed to a game like Severed.

Enemy design is also lacking but does work well with the environment since it doesn’t clash or anything. Again, if you weren’t looking at this game through the VR headset, you wouldn’t be marveling at its graphical strength. But credit should be given to the fact that it does look nice in VR.

… forgettable outside of the headset …
Audio:
I ended up turning down the music while playing because the repetitive bass was driving me nuts. Things didn’t improve much as I continued but honestly, audio has never been a driving force behind games of this type. That said, nothing stood out as unique in the audio department.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is singleplayer only with no online component.

Conclusion:
I’ve played almost every genre in VR now. Some of these experiences have been absolutely enhanced by virtual reality, despite being forgettable outside of the headset, while others could stand alone with or without the virtual reality component. Crystal Rift stands with the former crowd. I could not imagine myself enjoying it nearly as much were it not for the PlayStation VR strapped to my head.

It’s not a deep experience by any stretch, but it’s also not priced as one. The fact that the level editor wasn’t ported across from the PC version also hurts the longevity a bit. If you’re curious about dungeon hunting in VR, this is an inexpensive way to check out what the future may hold. But temper your expectations, otherwise disappointment is almost certain.

Score:

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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  • Mike DiCerto

    Unfair rating. This is a VR experience and should b reviewed solely as that. To say it would be unmemorable without the headset is a mute point. THE POINT is that this gives the player a chance to ENTER INTO an old school dungeon crawler and the immersion is very very good.

    • Rey Barrera

      If I gave it a higher rating, then, when a better Dungeon VR game releases, and I want to grade it higher, I will be implying that both share the same quality. This is a cool VR game. Not a great one.

      • Mike DiCerto

        touche.

        • Rey Barrera

          Sorry, Mike. I certainly didn’t mean the response to sound harsh. I enjoyed the game ok. I’ve just been playing Dungeon games for decades, and as a VR experience it definitely had that wow aspect, but reviews are tough, because if someone buys this because I said it was great, compared to Eye of the Beholder and Legends of Grimrock, then it sounds like I don’t know my games, lol

          I really do appreciate you reading the review.

          • Mike DiCerto

            All cool bud!