Crystar Review (Switch)


Cry it all out.


Released: Aug 27, 2019 / Mar 29, 2022
Available on: Switch/Steam/PS4
Genre: Action RPG
Developer: FURYU Corporation
Publisher: NIS America
Review key provided by developers

It was just any other normal day. Mirai trying to get her sister to eat something other than potatoes as well as get out of her room more often; and Rei, the sister and the character you play as, staying in her room, avoiding the outside world and being an even more picky eater than what you see people complaining about (which mainly just ends up being the person doesn’t like what they like). However, one day that all came to an end in a split second. When Mirai was about to tell Rei that she finished cooking, everything disappeared and they suddenly found themselves in a strange other world as butterflies with no memories. And it seems that there are others that have had the same fate, probably not the exact same situation, but has turned into the same form as her.

Luckily, Rei does seem to have some guidance as another butterfly approaches her and helps her regain her self-consciousness and thus her form. This does take a bit, as this does include you finding a few of Rei’s memories which doesn’t delve that deep into her past, but enough to reveal Rei’s name. While you were trying to regain your self-consciousness, a butterfly ends up following you and this ended up being Mirai who tells you more about happened moments before you two were taken to…wherever you are. Though, of course this place ends up being dangerous as the two end up being attacked, the first attack which separates Mirai and Rei, by multiple other enemies on the way to where Mirai is, and by the very woman that caused you two to be here, aka Anamnesis. You do end up finding out you have the means of defending yourself, not only giving her a weapon but also a cute new outfit and a Guardian, but this also ends up accidentally killing Mirai during a spiral. Before Rei’s self-conscious was unraveled for good, however, the Demon Twins Mephis and Pheles appear offering up a contract to Rei, asking her to serve them as their Executor in exchange for Mirai’s Revival.

With the contract signed and becoming an official Executor, you are told that you, and all of the other souls here, are in Purgatory. There is a way to save Mirai, but Rei doesn’t have a lot of time to dawdle. It turns out that Purgatory is set up to where souls travel down through the layers until they hit cogs, which will grind them up and spit them out as a blank soul ready to be reincarnated. Mirai doesn’t seem to be even close to reaching the cogs, thank goodness, and Mephis and Pheles is helpful enough to give you the shortest route to her (even though sometimes it doesn’t seem like it), but Revival for a soul isn’t going to be as easy as catching up to her soul butterfly. Rei has to gather countless souls so Mirai can become “whole” soul-wise as well as crystallized tears called Idea. Rei isn’t as taken with this idea, especially when she learns that all the enemies you fight were humans, but for Mirai, Rei will swallow these doubts (or cry them out?).

I do have to say that the story did grab my attention, kept me engaged, and kept me playing by the end of the day. Not only did I want to see how Rei grew along her journey to reviving her sister, but also see her getting to her sister on time and learning about the various characters that you meet. I also did end up liking the twists the story presented (though at a certain point you just expect it). However, there might be some…time shenanigans that goes on which requires you to replay the last couple chapters multiple times to see the true ending.

Throughout your quest of finding Mirai’s soul you do end up meeting other Executors who you end up teaming with as while you guys don’t have the same goals, everyone working together will end up benefiting everyone. While they are a mystery when you first meet them, you will find out why they became an Executor in the chapter they appear in. There’s Kokoro, who weirdly has a crush on Rei and wants to get revenge on Anamnesis; Sen who fights to uphold the justice she believes in thanks to the influence of her father, and Nanana who also has a crush on Rei and really is here to have fun. Each Executor also each have their own unique fighting style, though you’ll find some more useful than others.

Now the combat, oh the combat. Crystar has you going through various Ordeals, which are basically the dungeons in this game (which basically has the same basic look with the layout, lighting, and other additions). At the beginning there is a vendor (or Peddler) that will sell you recovery items and crafting materials (and luckily, the Switch version contains all of the costume DLC, which one lets you get a discount). All you have to really do is make it to the spot that will take you to the next floor (which is highlighted on your unfilled map) and then to the exit which will either continue the story or put you into a boss fight depending on which ordeal you’re on. However, on the way, enemies called Specters will be hanging out in almost every room and they will not hesitate in targeting you. You of course have a way of defeating them, but this went from being something mindless, but fine, to dull after you’re a couple chapters in. Each Exector has a basic light and heavy attack, with the ability to jump (either to jump away or to do an air attack), and a dash that acts as your dodge. You also have skills you can use, using up SP, which can let you deal more damage, stun without doing a heavy air attack or chaining heavy attacks, and maybe even hitting multiple enemies (or hitting an enemy from far-ish away). Attacking enemies in quick succession will activate a chain which, depending on how high the chain is, will give you a bonus effect for your Tear Gauge.

The Tear Gauge feeds into another aspect that are unique to Executors, that being Guardians and they are exactly as they sound. Normally, Guardians will occasionally counter enemy attacks and shield you from a fatal hit, but that Tear Gauge on the bottom left corner? Well, the Tear Gauge will gradually fill up as you’re in battle (specifically when dealing or taking damage) or when you start crying, which will charge it in exchange for consuming SP and making you defenseless and immobile even a few seconds after you let go of the button. Once the gauge is full, you can activate it to do an Idea Release so you can summon your Guardian to fight alongside you. Your Tear Gauge will deplete as this happens, so you only have limited time to make the best of this, and you can even activate a finishing move if you decide to bring your Guardian back early (or specifically wait until the last few seconds).

There are also special Specters called Revenants which are characterized by it’s red coloring and halos. These are stronger than normal Specters and once defeated will cause a Torment to be dropped. Rei will absorb this and they are literally tormenting thoughts. Rei can only take about 10 of them at a time, so be sure to not overdo it.

While you do get more teammates, everyone won’t be out at once as only one of them can be out at a time so you’ll be switching between characters. Okay, but what’s stopping you from just using Rei? Well, technically nothing. But each character does play differently, like how fast they attack, how much their base damage is, and their skills, as well as getting a attack boost to the second (incoming) character based on the damage your first (outgoing) character took and red HP being regained when switched out.

However, like I mentioned earlier, the combat turned out to be dull, going from being a good enough mindless thing to just boring. I guess this has to do with the combat feeling rather stiff (at least to me) and repetitive (which probably isn’t helped with how the dungeons are and there are really about six enemy varieties) especially when enemies start having more health and you just get tired of fighting the same enemies that may or may not be the ones you find annoying. Granted, you can just run past them and only do mandatory fights and Revenants, but this will cause you to be underleveled for bosses unless you lower difficulty (or fine with taking longer to defeat them). It’s a real shame the combat turned out to be this way as the story is good, but it’s going to be hard to overlook it for some.

Between Ordeals, Rei will be residing in her room and you have a couple things you can (and maybe should) do before you depart again. First of all, you can pet Rei’s dog Thelema. Sure it doesn’t really do anything but she’s all cute and fluffy. There’s the usual side stuff like a place to listen to background music, view records, and change the character’s outfits. But the most important feature in Rei’s room is Organize. This lets you sort out Rei’s heart and mind essentially. This lets you purify the Torments Rei has by giving her the opportunity to cry, turning them into Sentiments (basically equipment). If you have two Sentiments of the same name, you can them fuse it using Thoughts and Essences you gather in Ordeals (or buy) to create a new, stronger Sentiment. And you can even go a step further by modifying it with Thoughts, giving it a random ability like extra health or immunity. I quite liked this system, and it works really well with one of Crystar’s themes that crying and letting your sadness out, rather than holding it in and having it build up, brings you strength in a way, with it being literal in Crystar’s Purgatory.

I will have to say that Crystar plays really well on the Switch. There are a few instances where I did notice some slowdowns, like during enemy (mainly bosses) attacks that put a lot out and when you do Idea Release, but over all it performs really well on the Switch. So if you want to take this on the go, don’t worry about the performance. Though, if you’re someone that gets bothered when a game has a lot of pop-ins, you’ll get bothered here as Crystar employs a lot of pop-ins on the Switch.

Verdict

I guess you could say I was a little disappointed in Crystar. This is mainly due to the combat, which turned out to be dull and not the kind of dull where you can mindlessly do it without feeling bored. Which is a shame as Crystar does have some interesting ideas, like the crying mechanic which reaches into the combat (Tear Gauge and Torments), how Sentiments are formed, and through one of the game’s themes; and the story here is good and can keep you interested and wanting to know what happens. I guess you can say that Crystar is a good, average, game that could have been great.

Unless you’re someone that can tolerate dull gameplay, and fine with the ending being behind replaying the last couple chapters a few times, Crystar’s story will certainly keep you engaged. However, I wouldn’t pick this up if you suspect that you’ll find the combat dull as well and especially not if you don’t like the story premise (as if you don’t like either this will definitely not be worth picking up).

RipWitch

♡ ♡ ♡ A witch that goes for anything that peaks her interest no matter the genre. Currently obsessed with the Persona series and trying to make a dent in my backlog. ♡ ♡ ♡

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