Ginger: Beyond the Crystal is a 3D platformer from independent developer Drakhar Studio. It is out now on Xbox One, PS4 & Steam.
Full of bright characters and colourful visuals, it borrows heavily from genre classics such as Banjo-Kazooie, Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon and more. If you grew up in the era of the 3D platformer then Ginger might be right up your street. It’s got a real old-school look & feel about it.
Unfortunately, it has some glaring issues that end up really harming the overall experience.
The story is very basic. You play as Ginger, who is a gift from a goddess. All of the crystals in the land have been corrupted by chaos & it is up to you to cure them. That’s it, that is your story. Control is handed over & you are free to explore. There is very little progression in the plot as the game plays out.
In fact, the story is all but forgotten by time you’ve had a couple of hours of gameplay & it does nothing to draw you back in. Even the ending is just a text box telling you that you’ve completed the main quest. You just have to presume you’ve resolved the world’s issues after defeating the final boss. Utterly maddening.
The world is made up of three hubs: Lowleen Town, Crate Peaks, and Bleepside Lake all with their own theme. As Ginger you must explore each location & complete two different quest types to cure crystals. One is reminiscent of Crash Bandicoot (in particular the camera angles) while the other takes on the form of the challenge stages from Mario games.
The former is the best thing about the game with some nice variation between them. There are some fun ideas but most are very short. The latter are exactly what they sound like & range from fun to infuriatingly bad. Not helped by the screen stuttering & bad frame-rate that will result in a number of unnecessary deaths.
You unlock levels by rescuing villagers & repairing destroyed buildings in the hubs. Collect small crystals to spend at the huge crystal that sits at the centre of each hub. A totally redundant idea as the small crystals are in such abundance that before I left the first hub I had enough to rescue every villager in the next.
What aren’t so in abundance are the resources to build. These can be found around each hub & level but by the end-game you’re likely to be scrabbling around trying to find one elusive log or rock to fix the final house. It’s so frustrating & feels so pointless.
You can also get resources from quests that come from the townspeople you’ve rescued. A nice idea but another half-baked one as they are all just variations of collecting a few items, fighting a few enemies, or competing in a checkpoint race. By the end of the first hub you’ll be sick of them & it is unnecessarily annoying that the game can only track one quest at a time.
Unlockable costumes that see Ginger transforming into different creatures or using different abilities is a nice touch. However, they are only really used in pre-planned locations rendering them pointless when it comes to the main bulk of the game.
Game play that is repetitive & not satisfying.
Visually Ginger has its issues. It might be bright & colourful but as mentioned above it suffers from some terrible frame-rate issues that cause a lot of jerking & stuttering. What starts off as a fun & interesting looking 3D platformer ends up being a chore to play. Even the music doesn’t grab with a few too many tunes sounding far too similar to Banjo-Kazooie.
So many ideas jammed in with no sense or reasoning behind it. It feels like an unfinished game.
Ginger: Beyond the Crystal