Saturday, August 03, 2019
"Crystar" applies the linear, single-player JRPG format to a tapestry that hinges on emotions. Your heroine, a high school girl named Rei, returns from a near-death experience with superhuman abilities.
Following a tragic plot twist, Rei descends back to the afterlife in order to rescue a lost soul. In a plotline that seems inspired by the Purgatorio segment of Dante's "The Divine Comedy," you wrestle with loss, anxiety and regret as you work your way through a cavalcade of conflicted spirits attempting to work through their plights as divinity prepares its final judgment.
Struggling through battles with demons inside and out, Rei works her way through the evil forces manipulating her plight. Unraveling the mysteries awaiting her, Rei evolves and develops in unexpected ways.
Developer FuRyu orchestrates the tale with introspective confidence, unpacking layers of psychological insight with minimalist touches. As you fight, you manipulate torment and grief to your advantage, parsing your strategy through the lens of available attacks in order to time your opportunities to seize the greatest advantage.
Throughout the game, the theme set to the forefront is that emotional expression -- even crying -- is a strength rather than a setback. The ability to process and react to adversity with physical manifestations is something of a superpower.
There isn't much out there that compares to "Crystar," which works hard to distinguish itself with its insightful dynamics and paradigm-changing combat system. For JRPG fans looking for something fresh that's dressed in familiar trappings, this is an experience worthy of making your eyes well up with joy.
Publisher provided review code.