Pin It
Favorite

The Player 

by Marty Demarest & r & & r & Crush & r & & r & Rated Everyone 10+; PSP & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & I & lt;/span & don't require my videogames to have stories. When they work, videogame stories are usually nothing more than amusing movies that play between sessions of gaming. Even role-playing games, which should have immersive, character-driven storylines, are often concocted from thin "stop the orcs" material. So I was surprised to find so much good storytelling in the puzzle game Crush.





The story in Crush is about an insomniac named Danny who needs help finding his marbles. They've been scattered around large structures built out of thick platforms and blocks in a virtual world representing his unconscious. While I can navigate Danny through this 3D world, he can't reach all of his marbles without "crushing" the gameworld into two dimensions. Blocks that were floating far away in space come near, and platforms that were broad and wide become merely thick. Three dimensions are compressed into two.





It's an uncanny effect, and Danny scampers and climbs around these Escheresque dreamscapes like a videogame antihero. As he amasses his marbles, Danny's memories return to him, and he comes to understand the reason for his insomnia. While this story doesn't lead the game down any insightful neo-Freudian avenues, it does provide the game's lead artist, Jonathan Taylor, and lead designer, Alex Butterfield, with their visual and interactive cues.





Taylor's images are dark and cartoonish. Outside of the mazes, lines rarely run straight, and buildings totter on the game's horizon. Danny himself is lanky, shuffling around in a threadbare housecoat, jaw perpetually slack. When his story is told through hand-drawn cartoon images, the game animates the still panels with lighting tricks and zooms that make the pictures feel cinematic despite their simplicity.





Butterfield's puzzles, on the other hand, are complex enough to induce a trance-like state of concentration. Many of the marble mazes are too large to take in at a glance. That breaks the dimension-crushing into smaller chunks that must be strung together logically (or luckily) to reach the maze's end. After playing each maze, however, the maze can be used for timed runs through the puzzle, which become mind-bending click-fests as the PSP twists and compresses space at warp speed.





THE GOOD: Crush distinguishes itself with superb production values. The insomniac plotline bleeds through the entire game, from the warped music to the clock pendulum that smears across the loading screens. Not a single graphic looks sloppy or quickly designed, and the animated 3D backgrounds in each puzzle are much more satisfying than most of the pictures of "thematic" junk that get thrown around in other puzzle games. Crush's producer, Paul Mottram, has delivered a rock-solid oddball of a game.





THE BAD: The frustrating part of Crush isn't logical, it's logistical. The dimension-smashing is all for the purpose of creating platforms that can be climbed up like ladders, run across like bridges, and jumped from like cliffs. At that point, Crush becomes a generic, themeless platform-jumping game. After spending so much frustrating fun figuring out the gnarly puzzles, it's exasperating to try making jump after jump in a generic game that is not gnarly at all.





THE BOTTOM LINE: Crush turns the PSP into a dimension-flipping, view-flopping portal to the best puzzle videogame in years.








4/5 Stars

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Crash > Click > Cash
  • Crash > Click > Cash

    Lawyers and chiropractors already have your name, your address and the police report from your car accident — and they want you to hire them
    • Jul 21, 2016
  • Starting Small
  • Starting Small

    A village of tiny houses in Spokane Valley could serve as a model for fighting homelessness in the region
    • Jul 21, 2016
  • Drastic Action
  • Drastic Action

    Spokane among seven school districts sued by State Superintendent of Public Instruction; plus, trio of police-chief finalists are in town
    • Jul 21, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri
Art on the Street

Art on the Street @ Spokane Art School

Saturdays, 1-4 p.m. Continues through Aug. 27

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by n/a

  • Iron Upgrade
  • Iron Upgrade

    The new one is smart and funny and action-packed, and it’s bigger and better and sleeker. And Downey does it again, this time ramping up Stark’s arrogant wisecracking, telling anyone who’ll listen (mostly women) that, via the creation of his powerful Iron Man suit, he’s brought years of uninterrupted peace to the world.
    • May 12, 2010
  • Seeing Gay
  • Seeing Gay

    A festival showing GLBT from all angles
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • Get Out the Vote
  • Get Out the Vote

    With all the uncertainty in the world these days, hot wings and cold beer are two things we can get behind
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Lane Ends Ahead

    Spokane wants to improve a mile-long section of Monroe — but that means taking away two lanes
    • Jul 7, 2016
  • Too Smart for School

    What happens when a 12-year-old prodigy tries to go to college in Spokane?
    • Jun 30, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

green zone


marijuana


Briefs


election 2016


trail mix


Readers also liked…

  • A Senseless Death
  • A Senseless Death

    Family and friends search for answers in the wake of an unsolved South Hill killing
    • Dec 3, 2014
  • Court of Understanding
  • Court of Understanding

    Spokane's felony Mental Health Court provides a framework for renewed lives
    • Dec 23, 2014

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation