At a first glance, Ginger: Beyond the Crystal seems like it’s going to be a fun quirky cartoon platformer. Its art style and screenshots certainly seems to support that. Unfortunately what you find here is an okay game held back by many issues that had me bored for most of the game.
The game starts with a lengthy opening that does some rapid world building. The basic plot is you are tasked with fixing the world on behalf of a goddess after all hell breaks loose and a mystical crystal is damaged. That’s not the only thing damaged in this world, various areas have been badly destroyed and needs your help to be rebuilt. Ginger needs to explore the lands, rebuilding areas and saving trapped civilians all the while fighting enemies. The game certainly seems to be aiming for a more child-like audience based on its cartoon style, minimal violence and silly side quests. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but as an adult it made it hard to connect with the game. Sure a kid may enjoy the repetitive “find ‘x’ amount of ‘x’” side missions but as an adult with awareness of game design, it’s extremely agitating. So many of the side quests play out like that, find this item a certain amount of times. You go to the next side quest and it’s exactly the same but having to find slightly more of the item you have been tasked with finding. Even the main gameplay loop plays out in a similar way. Use a crystal to teleport to a new area, save the person trapped if needed, gather resources needed to rebuild houses, come back and save the lost civilians and rebuild. Simple loop repeated over and over. Surprisingly for a game that seems to be aimed more at kids, there is little instruction or help on what you need to do or where to go. The hands off approach is more akin to a game designed for adults. Maybe the game has a slight identity crisis.
Unfortunately my issues with the game do not end here, the game has a couple of technical issues. For one, there seems to be some loading related issues. It’s not atrocious, but it takes a while to load and once it’s done, gameplay seems to stutter and lag for a few seconds afterwards. I can’t really understand why it does this, the game shouldn’t be to technically demanding. The game itself seems to have too many loading screens then it should really need. The next most obvious technical issue is collision. An uncountable amount of times I made the perfect jump only to miss. Now before you shout maybe I just suck at the game, it’s not that I jump and just missed. I would land close to the middle of the platform and fall straight to my death. This happened multiple times in multiple different locations. After a few deaths the issue would correct itself. When one of the main genres of your game is platforming, you simply can’t be excused for an error like this. A less technical issue but an issue none the less is the combat. It’s slow, awkward and simply boring. Press to punch, but the punch takes forever to connect. You need to press it before you get close to the enemy to make sure it connects. I got hurt often because I didn’t press the attack button early enough and it’s genuinely frustrating. As combat is featured heavily throughout the game you will certainly find yourself getting annoyed.
Let’s look at some of the positives. I really like the art style. It fits the tone and aim of the game well and it’s my favorite part of the whole experience. It’s interesting to look at and it has a nice attention to detail. The game is nice and bright and it really pops off the screen. The level design works really well as well. Exploring the whole level is the key to success and the game provides plenty of reasons to explore. As resources are key to progressing in the game, the levels scatter them well throughout the various areas. What took me by surprise considering the more child oriented style was the fact many parts of the levels cannot be accessed till you have unlocked a particular outfit or found a particular item. Outfits are awarded throughout the game and they grant you the ability to access areas you could not before. This certainly adds to the games longevity and it’s a nice way to teach younger kids how older games used to work.
There are some other nice touches to the game that’s worth mentioning. There are multiple fun areas that can be played when trying to fix a crystal. It’s in some of these mini areas when the platforming really comes alive. In the main game, I found the platforming okay to sometimes good. It was just generic platforming. However the mini areas feature many more platforming mechanics then you would see in the main game. And while these mechanics are not ground breaking, they are much better when compared to what the rest of the game is offering. The boss fight you experience early in the game also has some cool ideas that for the most part work. It’s surprisingly challenging for a more kid friendly game and requires some quick reactions and thinking on your feet.
Ginger: Beyond the Crystal is not a great game. Sorry if it’s harsh, but it’s true. But neither is it absolutely terrible. It’s just… well it just exists. I know that’s very general but that’s how I feel when I think about my time with the game. I didn’t have a good or bad time, it’s just a game I played for review. But in a way, its one redeeming factor as I close out this review is I can almost see how this game might be good for kids. Still not great, but a younger audience does not care about repetitiveness nor day they care how generic or simple the platforming is. They wouldn’t even really notice the technical issues. So yeah, maybe a kid would enjoy this I guess? If you’re reading this and you want to buy it for your kid, what’s the harm? But anyone that resembles a young adult and older won’t find much to see here.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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