The narrative in Crystar focuses on main character Rei Hatada as she fights her way through purgatory to save her sister Mirai. In order to accomplish this, Rei signs a contract with two beings. They are known simply as Mephis and Pheles, who claim to be the managers of purgatory. This contract binds Rei as their Executor, which is the only way to be able to gather the components required to save Mirai. As she travels through Purgatory, Rei encounters a number of different revenants, which are spirit beings that have memories of a past life. Rei is tasked with killing these revenants as part of the process for reviving her sister.
This story is quite interesting and features some very heavy themes. Some of the subject matter is pretty dark, but is handled very well. As Rei progresses through purgatory, she finds out the tragic backstories of how some of these revenants came to be. It can be quite an emotional rollercoaster. The game also doesn’t give much away, especially early on! This led to me questioning a lot of what was happening. I became very intrigued and invested in the narrative. Because every time you get some new information, it just creates more questions rather than giving answers.
What’s The Gameplay Like?
The gameplay in Crystar is simple, and unfortunately a little monotonous. Traversing through Purgatory is a little stiff at times. Whether in combat, or just walking around in this world, Rei and her companions feel quite heavy. This can lead to some really tedious enemy encounters. As a result of this, it’s not uncommon for attacks to miss opponents entirely, or to get caught in an enemies attack loop. Thankfully this doesn’t ruin the experience. I found myself adjusting to the controls over time, and these issues became less and less noticeable. When they did occur later on however, they were quite annoying!
One really interesting feature in Crystar are the sentiments. These are weapons and armour that you attain from killing Revenants. What is really interesting is that each time a revenant is killed, it releases a torment that affects Rei and her party. These torments can lower their attacks and defense, and can only be utilised after they have been purified. Rei must reflect on these torments and only through her tears can she purify them. These items can then be combined together, as long as they are of the same type, to create a better version of what was originally used. This is a great way to pump up those stats to do incredible damage to your foes!
A Minor Issue in Crystar
One little pet-peeve that I have with the game design, and believe me, I know full well that this is petty, is the fact that characters have some voice lines that are delivered with their attacks as well as the usual attack sounds. The problem I had with this was that they were often connected to the heavy attacks, and some lines would be broken into two parts. This meant that in order to hear the full line, you would have to do two heavy attacks in a row.
This was quite annoying for two reasons. Firstly, heavy attacks are a lot slower than the light attacks, meaning it was easy for your character to get interrupted when trying to chain heavy attacks together. Secondly, this meant that a lot of the time, I was only hearing half the line. This was most noticeable with Rei when she says “hate me if you must”. However, because heavy attacks are so easy to interrupt, Rei would often only say “Hate me”. This was made worse by the fact that it seems that the full phrase was recorded together and then split to fit over two heavy attacks. And again, I know this is petty, and it definitely didn’t detract me from continuing through the game!
Crystar is a bit of a mixed bag! The gameplay department may be somewhat lacking, but the narrative is absolutely fantastic! This leads to some really entertaining moments, followed by gameplay issues that can pull you out of the immersion on occasion. However, the narrative takes so many twists and turns along the way, and never fails to surprise me. If you love story driven games, then this is definitely one for you!
By Samuel Incze – Reviewed on Nintendo Switch
Crystar’s gameplay can be a little lackluster at times. However, the fascinating narrative does more than enough to keep you playing for hours on end! Some hit and miss combat, mixed in with a story filled with interesting, unpredictable directions makes for an enjoyable, yet occasionally tedious experience!
This game was reviewed using a download code provided by NIS America. The Beta Network uses affiliate partnerships, however, this does not influence reviews or any other content published. The Beta Network may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links that are on the website.