#743 Crush

Posted: 12th August 2014 by Jeroen in Games
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355th played so far

252px-Crush_CoverartGenre: Puzzle/Platform
Platform: PSP
Year of Release: 2007
Developer: Zoe Mode
Publisher: Sega

The weekend where we played Crush was a bit unconventional. We went to visit a friend and figured the best way to keep up with blog coverage was to take a few games up with us and get the good old PSP out. Crush was one of them – as much by whimsy as by intent, but it turned out to make for a pretty good game.

Our Thoughts

At first, looking at the box cover of the game, it seemed somewhat Tetris-like – there’s probably some link to the title, but I wasn’t immediately clear how – stacking blocks and combining that. That is not what I got.

Crush, instead, plays with dimensions, depth and perception. Ostensibly set in the protagonist’s brain, you walk over big, coloured blocks (mostly black, white and green), in simple 3D platforming style. At any point, however, you can force your perspective to be 2D – blocks near and distant get squashed together, based on the ones that are visible, and you can stand on top or in front of them or suddenly find yourself in mid-air. This way, you can move on, possibly crossing to blocks on the other side of the level that in 2D appear next to each other. Switch back and you might continue your journey. The puzzles come down to switching between perspectives, making your way through the levels to collect your lost marbles (yeah) and make it to the end – possibly picking up some collectables along the way.

The way ‘crushing’ affects the world takes some learning, using the colourcoding from the blocks, but when you get used to them they become quite smooth. Dying only impacts your puzzle score, nothing else, encouraging quite a lot of repeat play – and replayability to do better next time. The puzzles smoothly ramp up in difficulty – it’ll take some time to figure things out sometimes, but it wasn’t until the fifth level or so that I really started feeling stuck.

What makes the game really interesting though is the storyline that is weaved in. As mentioned, the game is meant to take place in the protagonist Danny’s mind, attempting to cure his debilitating insomnia. The marbles you collect are meant to help you regain memories and cure this. In between and during the levels, a therapy session takes place between Danny and the scientist who’s meant to help him exploring what is wrong. This is all fairly light, but still adds an extra dimension (yeah…) to what would otherwise be a fun, but incomprehensible puzzler, including adding some haunting background visuals. It’s rare to see puzzle games really get that right, and it’s really good to see they accomplished it here.

Final Thoughts

Apart from Crush there is only one game similar to this that comes to mind; the more sexual Catherine. The whole switching between 2D and 3D to solve puzzles is also something that is unusual and, to my knowledge, only really comes up in Super Paper Mario.

In many ways Crush is a unique game and one that, alongside Jeanne D’Arc, makes the PSP remain an interesting console. Just not the big competitor to the DS in the west that Sony had hoped for. A pattern that they are really repeating with the Vita.