Dungeon crawlers are a popular genre of games these days and there are plenty to experience on the PlayStation 4: The Binding of Isaac, Rogue Legacy, and Spelunky to name a few. However, none of these are as unique in style as Crystal Rift, which takes a very old-school approach to the experience.
You control your adventurer from a first-person perspective either with or without PlayStation VR; we'd suggest you use virtual reality as without it the fixed viewpoint makes it very difficult to play – you cannot see the sword in your hand or the floor in front of you and so you often end up dying by walking into pits. You are tasked with solving puzzles and defeating enemies in order to delve deeper into the grid-based dungeon. Although the dungeons are grid-based they are not turn-based, instead they are in real time, and this can cause an issues with the controls.
The control scheme is out-dated as you can only input one command at a time; if you try to hit two buttons too quickly after each other the latter will be ignored. This is very frustrating in specific areas of the dungeon where speed and precision is vital to progressing further in the game. For instance, at one point we had to follow a path covered with pressure plates that when stepped on would launch fireballs towards you. In order to pass this area we needed to turn to be able to see where the fireballs were and then move before we were hit, but there is hardly enough time to successfully pass through because of the old style controls only allowing step-by-step movement.
The visuals are equally out-dated and are really rather poor for a PS4 title. Every dungeon is made of the same bland textures that have been copied and pasted multiple times to form rooms. The enemies seem to have been created in the exact same way with only a few different models of foes that have been placed throughout the dungeon. They also don't put up much of a fight, their AI is very poor, and the majority of enemies can be taken down with a simple swing of your sword.
The gameplay feels very repetitive with 25 dungeons each lasting 10-15 minutes, where you will face the same skeleton foes, collect the same types of crystals to unlock more stone-walled rooms with spike and fireball traps. We also experienced several game breaking bugs in our playthrough, doors not opening once all enemies in the room were killed being the most common.
Crystal Rift is far from an enjoyable experience, with cumbersome controls, lacklustre visuals, and poor enemy AI. The entire experience gets very tiresome very quickly, and with the ever increasing expectations for great quality games, this just doesn't cut it. This rift would be better left unexplored, unless you think you'd enjoy its torturously repetitive depths.