Putting Classic Adventures Back in Style
By Brett Wolfe
Reviewed on Xbox One
Released on October 25th, 2016 on Xbox One and PS4, also available PC
Developer: Drakhar Studios Publisher: BadLand Indie
Note: This article was updated on 1/12/18 to reflect our thoughts on the Nintendo Switch Version.
The Playstation 2 was a big part of gaming for anyone growing up in the early 2000s. Everyone can remember one of their favorite games and most likely one of them are going to be from this era. Whether it was a platformer, a puzzler, or an action title, developers now struggle to bring back the nostalgia factor and gameplay that you remember from the classics. This is not one of those cases. Ginger: Beyond the Crystal is an adventure platformer developed by Drakhar Studios that tells the story of the corruption of the crystals of the Forest Goddess. Ginger, the supposed son of the Goddess, is tasked with traversing the land to purify the crystals and bring peace back to villages.
There are three different worlds that Ginger goes between on his quest to save the Forest Goddess. The three worlds are Lowleen Town, Crater Peaks, and Bleepside Lake. Each village contains five mirrors, five red crystals, fifteen Gingerians, NPCs to save, and a bunch of quests and buildings to construct. The mirrors are the main levels of the game and are unlocked after completing the previous one and by reaching a certain percentage of the village saved. These levels have the layout of a maze with a crystal at the end. Some of them require pre-requisites of collectibles before the crystal can be reached. Throughout the mirrors, you will come across special villagers. They will give you a new outfit that grants you an ability that is required to get through certain sections of levels later down the road. The fifth mirror in each world is a boss fight which, when beaten, awards you a special crystal that is given to the Goddess to bring her strength back. The red crystals are found in platforming sections that are great for amassing currency. The fifteen Gingerians are saved through a giant crystal obelisk that is in the center of the village. The NPCs are saved by spending 30 currency per villager. The buildings are another way to raise the percentage of the village saved and it makes the villagers happier. I do not believe that the happiness level has any effect on the gameplay; however, it seems like most the villagers get happy when you do anything that raises the percentage. There are twelve different buildings that can be constructed (four small, four medium, and four large) and use various components to add it to the village. These components are achieved throughout the main missions, found around the town, or by completing quests. These quests are simple tasks that are given to you by the members of the community. They range from collecting certain items to time trial races as well as defeating enemies. The gameplay is great and the structure really emulates a modern vision of the genre.
The gameplay is not the only thing that has a nostalgia factor. The visuals and sounds of this game complete the deal and make it look and feel like I was replaying one of my old favorites. The visuals are obviously upscaled from what the style would have looked 15 years ago, but it still has the feeling of playing a PS2 title. The game looks colorful, has this cute atmosphere and sounds amazing and I really enjoyed the style the developers took while designing this game. While I did not experience it a majority of the time, I did have some issues with the game stuttering. While jumping or fighting a large group of enemies, the game would freeze for a couple seconds, then fix itself. This would not be a big issue if it did not cause you to take damage or miss a jump. It got even worse during the red crystal platforming section, in which falling would cause you to start back over. I had a few segments that would freeze near the end of the section and cause me to fall and restart again.
Before receiving this title, I noticed it on the Xbox One Store and was excited about the release. My thoughts did not change whenever I played the game. I had fun, the story had me hooked on every line, and I found myself not wanting to put down the game. With all of this in mind, it is not to say that I did not get frustrated from time to time. Some of the later missions require more patience or faster-moving platforming skill. Do not even get me started on the later platform sections for the red crystals. One of them requires you to traverse the section while bouncing the entire time. I do not think I have ever been as frustrated as I was while playing that with anything else in my gaming career (and I love Dark Souls). However, while I got frustrated and wanted to do anything other than finishing that portion of the game, I loved this game. It was just so much fun and I recommend it for anyone.
Ginger: Beyond the Crystal is priced at $20 USD and I 100% believe that it is worth that price. The game is super enjoyable and challenging but in a good way. You should not have the feeling of breaking your controller or smashing your television, but the game will not be a cakewalk. This is a platformer that we needed and it excelled at every aspect. So, grab your robes, we have some crystals to collect my friends.
NINTENDO SWITCH NOTES:
Ginger is not my flavor of choice, at least not on Switch anyways. After Brett reviewed last year, I was convinced that it needed to be on my radar. I love games in the genre, new and old, but this just did not quite stick with me, resulting in an experience much different than what Brett experienced on the Xbox One. For one, I had lots of performance and technical issues. Funky controls and odd areas of damage put me off from the start. Though charming aesthetically, it doesn't make up for the iffy gameplay. Enemies that I clearly had the jump on somehow almost always got a hit in on me (which triggered an aggressively annoying vibration through the joycons, which apparently you cannot turn on off in game and have to instead turn it off in the system settings). Jumping isn't perfect either, and there is a weird depth perception overall. In more open areas, you can hardly adjust the camera outside of a maybe 30 degree range, which hindered my desire to explore. There was also a slightly under performing frame rate in handheld mode, making the game ever so slightly jarring.
It’s not all bad, however. Like I said, the game has a nice aesthetic. Though some elements are bland, it is a very inviting adventure. It has a cool hat system, charming music, and a decent look. The story is solid, and the characters are warm and welcoming, though alien in appearance. The world building system gives you the added gameplay of restoring homes and facilities, while the side quests help you gather the means to do so. All in all, it’s a solid platforming adventure, but there are much more polished ones on the platform you should put first.
Note: A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of the review.
Final Score: 8.5/10
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