Whenever you think of a free to play running game you’re probably thinking of high energy titles with a ton of content and amazing replay value. The highest values of quality are associated with these titles because there’ a lot you can do with it. Unfortunately Crash ends up fumbling the ball on this one and it’s easily the weakest free runner that I’ve played. Sonic, Ladybug, and the others are all a lot better because they embraced the free to play elements while this one seems a little more hesitant.
First off, the gameplay is fine. It’s your standard auto runner so you can crouch and jump to avoid obstacles. There are power ups in the levels and even a little boss fight at the end where you have to tap the screen with precision. These are good mechanics that work well. I did not have any qualms with the gameplay. The levels are also nice and bite sized so there is a whole lot of replay value there.
What is my main issue? It’s the energy system. Now, longtime fans of mobile games will recognize that this isn’t new. A lot of mobile games have something like that to prevent you from beating all of the content instantly. The most confident games though like Pokemon Go, Godzilla, and Dr Mario have no such system. Others like Fire Emblem Heroes, Dragon Ball Legends or any other big gatcha game have it as a formality but it’s hard to reach. In those games you could play effectively with no limit for about a month and then after that you’re limited to about 4-5 hours a day. That’s fine, I’m unlikely to play a mobile game longer than that anyway and it seems like a pretty fair tradeoff.
The problem with Crash is that it’s immediate. Within about an hour you’re going to start running into a shortage of items. Your options at that point are to wait, buy the items, or play old stages to try and get more materials. Why should I need to play an old level when I just started the game though? That was my main issue throughout the game. It felt like you were always needing to go and grab other collectibles so you couldn’t really appreciate the game.
It feels greedy because most of the time your gaming experience won’t be interrupted until you’re fairly deep into the story. Imagine having to go back and raise more Pokemon in Pokemon Masters instead of blasting through all of the available levels? Or needing to go back and clear more Witch rooms in Madoka instead of continuing? That’s my issue with the Crash game, it seems like they heavily steer you towards playing a fee right off the bat rather than enjoying your free experience. If you ask me, that’s the real shame here.
Not even adding in the famous mascot “The Noid” was enough to save the game. I had already finished my playthrough of this one before he came out but let me say that he was not enough for me to change course and go back in. You would need to fix the fundamental issues of Crash’s item system first. Part of the issue is that there are several different kinds of items, materials, and levels you have to get. This should be simplified so there is only one kind of vial for example. Instead of 3 tiers to each item, make it 1.
I would also add a new player bonus like most games where clearing story levels for the first time replenishes your energy. That’s a great way to keep you playing uninterrupted for a long while and then you can really enjoy going back to clear up loose ends. I don’t see why the game decided to be so different from the other auto runners. At the very least the unique approach didn’t work this time.
The graphics are really good though. It’s clear that a lot of work went into making the game look as good as possible. The character models are really on point. They wouldn’t be out of place in the big budget PS4 games. Then the soundtrack and level designs are good. Each theme sounds good and is fittingly high energy for a running game like this. The levels all look like the traditional Crash levels as well.
In terms of replay value, there is a lot here even if we don’t count all of the material farming. The game launched with well over 50 levels and I expect new updates will bring more and more. You can unlock costumes, in game achievements and things of that sort. As with most mobile games, you can probably expect to keep finding things to do here all the way until the game eventually runs out of steam and just ends naturally.
Overall, My main issue here is just that the game feels rather greedy. You can make the case that all mobile games exist to make money since the free to play model is built on using ad revenue but some games certainly use it better than others. In a lot of mobile games you never even get tempted to pay money and it’s all rather harmless. Additionally, if there’s a mobile game you seriously enjoy and will play for 50+ hours anyway, then spending a few bucks may not sound bad. This one just won’t be that game though. I’d highly recommend playing just about any of the other free runners instead but if you have some time then I suppose this isn’t a bad bet. Getting around the time limits is really the most annoying part so if you get past that then there are the fundamentals of a good game.