“Don’t play with my emotions.” is probably the first, second and last words I’ve uttered throughout the story until the end credits rolled. It played with my emotions far better than my partner did last summer… considering if it was summer and if she did truly existed. But enough about me and my delusions.
Crystar follows a dark psychological theme centred on Rei Hatada, a girl that is on the brink of an emotional breakdown and her journey towards the deepest layers of Purgatory to revive her little sister, Mirai, she just stabbed mere moments ago.
There’s a very interesting element at play here which is only magnified by its relatable and lovable characters as well as its gripping core story that is better experienced firsthand. It’s a literal emotional rollercoaster so to speak as you meet new friends, witness their hardships and be there as they get through it. And by the end of all this, is a long sigh of relief and an empty shell as I browse through my library of games that can provide that same level of impact.
The characters despite very few make their story fully fleshed out and if the title doesn’t spell it out for you, you’ll cry as you experience their own little stories unfold while on the journey towards Mirai’s revival. This is only elevated by the story’s setting which as I said is inside Purgatory, tackling life and death, but on the forefront seems like your typical save the world (sister in this case) happy end-setting yet as you get invested into it, the story becomes dimmer while being a bit clearer in a sense. You simply never know what’s gonna happen ‘til it hits you in the face and that’s what I really like about it.
It’s an emotional ride you want to be invested on to fully appreciate however while all of that provides the best moments throughout my full playthrough, its flimsy combat and dull fights offer little enjoyment. Battles follow the typical hack n’ slash format with two types of attack buttons and a set of skills like spells and arts that can be set in the menu. Guardians, however, is the typical Persona-like entity that helps you through battle as they counter an attack or fully materialize for a limited time once your Tear Gauge is full.
Halfway through, I end up running away from avoidable fights (which is most of them) to get to the deepest level of a dungeon and tick the next story bit. Most encounters offer little in terms of challenge or fun in that matter. Enemies would be constantly re-skinned to be thrown on the next chapter’s dungeon, bosses, while not all, would even be a bigger, stronger and bullet-spongier type of normal monster that has flashier skills than their normal counterpart.
It does offer interesting mechanics despite not actually making the fights any better. Monsters, otherwise known as Specters are the dead persons in the afterlife that is tainted by evil entities to do evil things. Revenants, however, are the stronger versions of those monsters that hold stronger emotions and by killing them torments you the player as you take away their life and lose the chance of ever reaching reincarnation. These torments, however, make you and your party of pale-skinned girls stronger by overcoming the torment through crying after Rei wakes up in her room in which it turns into sentiments that becomes your weapons and armours.
Visually, the game offers a gorgeous mix of dark shades and vibrant colour schemes and while it isn’t as grand does provide the deep connection towards its story and characters. It’s something that I really like as it makes me think what kind of story will unfold in this particular area, why does it look like this and where the hell is that freakin’ exit at? However, it does make the level design a bit too samey as you go through a long three-part dungeon with the same touch of paint.
In a nutshell, Crystar is one of the best emotional games I’ve played next to The Liar Princess and The Blind Prince which made me shed buckets. If you’re looking for something that delivers an amazing cast of characters that blends in all too well with its setting and story, look no further. It doesn’t have the engrossing gameplay experience however which is a bit of a shame but despite all that, I’d play Crystar again if I have to make the point even clearer.
Writer: Naoki Hisaya
Genre: Action role-playing game
Developers: FuRyu, Gemdrops, Inc.
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows
Publishers: FuRyu, SPIKE CHUNSOFT