I’m probably one of the few people that wouldn’t have expected a brand-new Crash Bandicoot game a few years ago. Hell, after what the series had become I honestly don’t think I would have wanted one. That was before Activision launched Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, and not only reminded us of how great those games were, but how hungry fans were for another game in the same vein.
With vocal fans at their doorstep, and seeing the success that the N. Sane Trilogy was, Activision has followed up with a brand-new entry into the series after more than 20 years. Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time has been carefully crafted by the team at Toys for Bob, who handled the Spyro Reignited Trilogy a couple of years back, and with the job they’ve done here, Crash 4 is the best entry in the series to date.
Set after the events of Crash Bandicoot: Warped, Dr Cortex and N.Tropy have escaped from their time prison, resulting in multiple tears in the fabric of time and space. Threatening to enslave the multiverse, Crash has to team up with his allies (and even an old foe) in order to recover the Quantum Masks and save the world.
It should come as no surprise given their past work, but Toys for Bob deserve immediate praise for the level of care that has gone into constructing Crash Bandicoot 4. It’s a game that feels like a true evolution for the series, yet fits right in with the games that have come before it. Characters that you know and love make a welcome return (with some great designs), and the new characters fit right in. Fans with a keen eye will also find a number of references and easter eggs littered throughout the game too.
Fans of the series will immediately feel comfortable when they jump into Crash Bandicoot 4. Gameplay follows the same format that past iterations have stuck to, except with the addition of a few new mechanics and some very welcome quality of life changes. The most obvious of these is of course the Quantum Masks. Each mask offers up a new ability for Crash and Coco to take advantage of as they progress through each level. The Quantum Masks allow players to slow down time, phase objects in-and-out of play, adjust gravity and utilise dark matter to perform devastating attacks.
Quality of life changes include the addition of a circular indicator that points out where the playable character will land, an improved (but not perfect) camera, and the inclusion of the new slide spin move.
From a gameplay perspective, Crash Bandicoot 4 is almost flawless. As I mentioned, the camera can still be somewhat jarring at times, but it is still a massive improvement over past titles. Additionally, in some levels you’ll be tasked with riding a character, such as Polar. Much like the original trilogy, these levels suffer from overly-sensitive movement controls for the characters. These issues are very minimal though and rarely factored in to my overall enjoyment of the game.
Ultimately, the new mechanics and changes to the game make Crash 4’s gameplay feel wonderful. If you’ve played the past titles, you’ll know the series is somewhat unforgiving in its difficulty and Crash Bandicoot 4 is no different. In fact, it’s probably the hardest game to date. The difficulty increases with every level, but at no point did I feel it was genuinely unfair. There will be points where you’ll die over and over again before you make it through, but completing the harder challenges in this game made me feel rewarded each time.
Looking at the visuals and art direction of Crash Bandicoot 4, there’s a lot to love. Introducing the dimensional theme to the game has allowed the team to bring their imaginations to life, offering up some of the most unique art design that the series has ever seen. The levels are bright and vibrant, and in-game cutscenes are a treat to watch, with a great amount of effort put into the animations, voice work and writing.
If you can’t already tell, there’s a lot to be impressed with when looking at Crash Bandicoot 4, but the sheer amount of content and replayability that the game provides is unreal. It might turn off some, but for completionists like me, I can already tell that I’ll be coming back to the game for a long time. Sure, a part of that comes down to just how fantastic this game is, but there’s just so much to do too. Collecting all of the gems is a job in and of itself, but when you factor in the brand-new N.Verted levels, you’re essentially doubling the playtime of the game.
There are also co-operative and multiplayer modes to play with friends. Not only can you take turns working through the levels together, but you can now get competitive and challenge each other to a checkpoint race or see who can break more boxes.
The game offers five different playable characters, each with their own varied and unique playstyles. The addition of Tawna and Dingodile is awesome, and they’ve featured in some of my favourite levels in the game. While I’ve found him to be much more difficult to master, Cortex is also pretty enjoyable too and you could argue his gameplay design is the most unique of the bunch.
If that’s still not enough for you, there’s a collection of alternative outfits to unlock for Crash and Coco and even more bonus levels to play through. Seriously, the amount of content that’s packed into Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time is unreal.
It’s clear that the team at Toys for Bob are massive fans of the series. They’ve put their heart and soul into the development of the game so that it not only pushes the franchise forward but does so in a way that attracts long-standing fans and new ones at the same time. Crash Bandicoot 4 is the best game in the series, and one of the best within its genre. With the series completely reinvigorated, I can’t wait to see where they take Crash next.
This game was reviewed with a promotional code provided by the publisher.
Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time
Crash Bandicoot 4 is everything that I was hoping for. Not only is it a stunning return to form for our favourite Bandicoot, but there’s so much to do here that you’ll have no trouble coming back to the game as you eagerly await the follow up that’s sure to come.
- Difficult, but rewarding gameplay
- Bright, vibrant art design
- An enormous amount of content and replayability
- The camera can be awkward at times
- Some controls are still too sensitive