Thursday, January 8, 2015

Gaist Crusher (3DS) - Review

More than a year ago I wrote up my impressions from the demo of Gaist Crusher, and in that writing I expressed a positive energy towards Gaist Crusher because of what I'd thought would be added to the final product, and not so much what I'd actually experienced. There wasn't much to the Gaist Crusher demo, but because I did like what was offered on a basic level I took the optimist route and wrote rather glowing impressions anyway---

Well you live and learn, because not only did none of my vapid assumptions come true, my initial feelings on Gaist Crusher, which I'd buried underneath positivity, have come to be my final opinion as well. While Gaist Crusher does have a slick presentation and solid gameplay, there is nowhere near even the most minimal of variety to hide what is an excessively dull experience. Gaist Crusher is a serious offender of mindless repetition and blatant limitation, and no matter how well built the gameplay is it cannot camouflage how unrewarding, and seriously boring, the game actually is.

It's a bit hard to explain. Gaist Crusher has excellent gameplay, and even though it's rather elementary that very basic, accessible Action-RPG structure delivers thoroughly here. There's a slim assortment of variety in available weapons (Swords, Hammers, Bows and the usual rest), as well as customizable combos for each weapon (which can go in any order on the Light, Medium, Heavy scale of attacks). Gaist Crusher could have served as an excellent, kid-friendly introduction into several styles of stapled genres, whether action, RPG, or the Monster Hunting kind. But this is the first time I've experienced a very polished, and initially thrilling, gameplay system that just cannot compensate for the rest of what is a tremendously dull experience.

I won't skip what positives there are though. There's good variety in how you go about brawling, which holds two forms for each Gaist Gear (combat outfit); fists, and weapon. There are unique combos and animations available for each, and these are independent from one another for both forms depending on the overall weapon type. There are also special attacks and Extreme forms for each outfit, the both of which are earned by the amount of attacks you land on enemies. The special attacks are bland and simply high-damage hits, but the Extreme forms are interesting in that they are each unique depending on your outfit, and are each boss you've defeated prior. During Extreme form you transform into that conquered boss, and during an allotted time you're free to neglect damage and beat on enemies as a super-powered creature. At first this is exciting, but, as the eventual understanding of the total game comes to show, proves to be far too lacking in difference to pave long-standing enjoyment.
I could discuss the action gameplay more, but there's no point because it never exceeds beyond that immediate sense of whisking excitement which you can get out of the demo. Gaist Crusher runs on a locked-in-place formula; you go through 3 or so stages of very basic enemies, and then fight a boss where you use your special attack, your extreme form, and then keep wailing until it dies. The fodder enemies are truly just that, and the bosses are Tank-damage invalids who all pose to you the same challenge; stab-stab-stab, and then dodge when it moves after its rest period.

There's nothing to the game beyond breezy, stage-designated action-gameplay. There's no varying overworld, everything is orchestrated by a run-of-the-mill menu, and the story reveals itself in that typically lousy manner of static anime characters with dialogue boxes. While there are some brief cutscenes here and there, they aren't going to pull you in to the Gaist Crusher world; they're more like minor annoyances where you're shown a flexible and exciting world while you yourself are limited to the most cut-and-paste stage-format ever created.
There's simply nothing to Gaist Crusher. While it has an ambitious gameplay system, it's wasted on the most bargain-bin level-design. You can customize combos, or become more skillful with more expert weapons like the bow, but there is absolutely no compelling rationale to do any of these things. You level up the relevant elemental suit needed for the next stage (which you can always afford to do, especially if you do the optional (and completely same) Free Missions), and then beat that stage. Then you do it again, and again, and again. Gaist Crusher has a competent gameplay-system, but it's wasted because this is an atrocious game as a whole.

I've spent a good amount of time writing about how story gets in the way of solid gameplay here on FreeTheMechs, but this is the first time that compelling gameplay has not been enough to deliver an enjoyable experience. Variety has never been so pleaded for as with Gaist Crusher, but sadly it lacks the minimal degree needed to cover up what is really the fallacy of videogames as a whole; the automatic and necessary functions to proceed. There's simply no creativity necessary or valued while playing; Gaist Crusher is the epitome of a schematic, which is gut-wrenching because there's not a single reason this game should have turned out so.

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