Squish and the Corrupted Crystal
Released this August, Squish and the Corrupted Crystal is the first IP from the American Studio Cheat Code. The game is side-scrolling platformer where you guide Squish, our tiny hero, in his quest to free his friends from corruption and purify the guardian crystal of Diacris, while collecting gems and learning new abilities. Come with us and check what their game is all about.
- From the world map, your objective in the game is to beat stages while collecting crystals that will grant you access to further levels. Each stage has a quota of crystals that need to be collected to become available. After a certain number of stages, you’ll face a boss that will grant you a new ability (we’ll talk about them later) when beaten, abilities that you’ll need to have access to the next set of stages. And you can play them in any order you want, as long you have enough crystals to open the stage and the ability needed to reach them.
- The main goal in each stage is to collect as many crystals as you can (fifty in each stage). But they have two more objectives: one is to collect a token that stays in hard-to-reach places and the other is to complete the stage under a target time. To complete this second one adds a big layer of replay value, if you enjoy this kind of challenge.
- The resemblance is real: the game does remember classics like Mario and Sonic. Be it because of its colorful worlds, the high speed of our character or all the attention needed while jumping between platforms. We all love Mario and Sonic and resembling them is always something good for a side-scrolling platformer.
- The stages are incredibly well designed. For me, this is where the game truly stands out from other platformers! Although the objectives are the same in each stage (with some few surprises I won’t spoil you), each one feels unique, aided by the different abilities needed to complete them. And they’re short, but very challenging. A big congrats for developer’s efforts here!
- Now about the abilities: your character start with his yellow ‘crystal armor’ (in absence for a better name, since the game doesn’t explain us what is this crystal armor he’s using) that has no special abilities. After beating the first boss, you gain access to the blue ‘crystal armor’ that can turn into liquid, allowing the character to pass through grids and other similar structures. And for each boss you defeat, you receive a new color for your ‘crystal armor’ that comes with a different ability. No more spoils here, but they’re very cool and original. And, in later stages, you’ll need all of them to overcome the challenges.
- Graphically speaking, the game is just ok. Visuals are colorful and child friendly, but they’re extremely simple: a few details in characters, levels and the enemies, not to mention poor textures. I respect the developers option to use simpler graphics, but I cannot help but to think it could have been a lot better with a different style or more creative effort.
- The same can be said about the sound: the in-game music is very pleasant throughout the entire game. But the sound effects are almost absent. One more time, I respect their choice, but once again I believe it could have received more attention in this aspect.
- Something I really missed in this game was an option to customize my controls. ‘Why’ you ask? Because the button layout felt strange for me: you use X button to run, A button to jump and the triggers to use your abilities. I can’t imagine how hard it is to implement this customization in a game, but I wish the developers would consider it on a future update.
- I had problems with some checkpoints during stage: they simply didn’t activate, with no apparently reason.
- Sometimes when you die, you’ll find yourself unable to continue the stage because the color crystal needed to, for instance, get through a grid, is right on the beginning and you’ve just respawn in a checkpoint far ahead. If I’m unable to continue the stage, why place that respawn point?
- There are some jumps that the game does not register, making you fall to your death. Especially when you’re running. One thing is to miss a series of jumps because you miscalculated the distance between platforms. Other are those cheap deaths because the game didn’t register your jump. Something that really compromises your gameplay.
For their first game, Cheat Code Studios did a remarkable job with Squish and the Corrupted Crystal. They brought to us a challenging game with good replay value. Although some aspects really deserved more attention to bring a more beautiful set. It’s a simple and well-designed game, everyone who enjoyed the games of a certain old plumber with a mustache, will enjoy.