Welcome to Purgatory

Earlier last month, I had the opportunity to interview both producer and director Fuyuki Hayashi and character designer RIUICHI about CRYSTAR, covering what the game will bring to the genre, their inspirations for the game, and the overall theme. Considering it involved something as unique as tears, and being a fan of things that involve purgatory, it caught my attention.

CRYSTAR is about Rei, a girl who awakens in limbo along her younger sister Mirai. While trying to make it back to their original world, they are attacked by an unknown creature. In order to protect Mirai, a superpower awakens within Rei. However, she was unable to control her power thus ends up killing Mirai.

The devil whispers to the despairing Rei. “If you reap the souls of the dead that drift about a different world, and sacrifice the tears you shed through that suffering, I can ‘revive’ the dead Mirai.” It was written by Naoki Hisaya, known as one of Kanon’s scenario writers—a visual novel by Key. His writing is very noticeable throughout the game as it feels as melodramatic. Just from the prologue, I’m already liking the theme of the game. Things like making a contract with the devil or a type of higher being, especially to save a loved one somehow captivates me.

CRYSTAR (PS4, PC[reviewed])
Developer: Gemdrops
Publisher: Spike Chunsoft (WW), FuRyu (JP)
Released: August 27th, 2019
MSRP: $59.99

After completing the first chapter, you are taken to Rei’s room, in which you can follow up with the other levels called “Ordeals”. Organize your equipment, talk with other characters via your cell phone, change your character’s in-game costumes, check out the gallery, and play with your dog Thelema, in which you pet her to warm your heart, as expected from all good dogs. There’s not too much to do but it works and it gives you what you need in the most streamlined way possible. 

The game lets you play as four characters, in which you will unlock each other as you progress through the game—each offering a unique playstyle, from swords to gauntlets. I personally prefer Kokoro who uses the gauntlets since I always love close combat, heavy damage gameplay, especially in fighting games. The game has two attack buttons for Light and Heavy attacks in which you can make decent combos out of. You can also cast different attacks by holding the RB button or R1 depending on what type of controller or system you’re playing the game on and one of the face buttons to cast a spell consuming SP.

You get different spells you can equip and fast throughout the game. Unfortunately, you can’t block but you dash your way out from enemies. Lastly, if you hold the LB/L1 button, you will cry, in which is a way to release your Idea—a celestial being that accompanies your character (think Persona or Stands from Jojo). It’s only temporary but if you press the same button again before the bar goes out, you will release their special attack. 

While the combat itself is really fun, going alongside the really enjoyable story and the characters, the level design isn’t really up to par. While the scenery is different each chapter, going through each dungeon and every floor felt like a chore—it felt all of the same for the majority of the game, and if the combat wasn’t fun, or wasn’t interested in Rei’s story, I would have probably dropped the game. While enemies can pack a lot of damage if you aren’t careful, the game is too easy as well. It almost feels like a bad Musou/Warriors game, in terms of repetitive level design.

The artstyle is by the great RIUCHI, known for his gothic-themed illustrations. Every character has a unique look that sets them apart from each other. Aside from that, the game isn’t too graphically pleasing, but it’s to be expected from Japanese RPGs. While the music is really good, which you can revisit in Rei’s room, it isn’t too memorable. The opening theme and ending theme songs, "can cry" and re-live", respectively are both composed and sung by Nagi Yanagi—both great songs. I got to experience the game in the original Japanese audo track and English dub. While I mostly played the game in Japanese, I played a little bit of it in English for the sake of the review. While I enjoyed it, it wasn’t good enough for me to keep it but that’s more my preference in gaming rather than the voice actor’s performance.

While I known a little bit about the game since it released last year in Japan, I learned more about it while interviewing both Fuyuki Hayashi and RIUICHI at Anime Expo. The theme sounded great, and I was really looking forward to it. While the story delivered, it was hard to really sit through the level designs of the game to complete the game.

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CRYSTAR reviewed by Christian Chiok



Slightly above average or simply inoffensive. Fans of the genre should enjoy it a bit, but a fair few will be left unfulfilled.
How we score:  The Japanator reviews guide


Christian Chiok
Christian ChiokContributor   gamer profile

Christian has been a gamer since his early childhood. He's a big fan of the King of Fighters and the Metal Slug series. Additionally, Christian enjoys cooking, listening to music, watching anime ... more + disclosures



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