Going by its demo, Crystal Story: Dawn Of Dusk is a slick retro-modern RPG with many eerie touches

By admin Jan 13, 2024

Crystal Story: Dawn of Dusk is a combination of words that screams “predatory mobile fantasy RPG” but that’s very much not my takeaway from the game’s demo. Out tomorrow on Steam for £10.23, $11.99 or €11.83 including the 20% launch discount, this first instalment in the Crystal Story series blends the cuddly feel of a 16-bit Zelda with the dream logic of a Yume Nikki. There’s a splash of Undertale‘s crackpot experimentalism to the writing and certain battles, as well.

Those are big comparisons to invoke, and I don’t expect Crystal Story to measure up to them. But it’s a lot better than I was expecting from a game whose title had me picturing microtransaction-sodden levelling systems and a pouty elf in a bikini.

In Crystal Story: Dawn Of Dusk, you play a young woman, Mina, who is searching a shattered, night-time dimension for her brother – kidnapped long ago by a terrible demon called Termina. There are two areas in the demo – a spooky-ass mansion with suits of armour, and an enchanted marsh. Between dream delves, you spend time in the waking world, aka Dawnside, sharing meals with your mother, who appears to be some kind of demon herself. Strong Coraline vibes. It looks like there are Mode-7 style airship sequences in there, too.

The mechanics are a mixture of action-RPG puzzling and turn-based skirmishes on a smaller screen-within-the-screen. Mina has a knack for fire magic, which I’m hoping will develop beyond flinging balls of flame at slimes, or clearing away vegetation. It’s all very stylishly presented, with noodly period chiptune music, the obligatory CRT filter and lots of fizzy little animated details. It’s also surprisingly creepy. I got defeated by a giant lupine creature in the marsh and was sincerely worried that Dawn Of Dusk might turn out to be a bloody horror story.

Developer Fred Brown of publisher Fred Brown Games, LLC says that the full Dawn Of Dusk release “will be regularly updated to keep things fresh with additional content, areas, sidequests, and more.” Seems very promising – I just wish it had a sparkier name. It’s not even the only RPG on Steam called Crystal Story.

By admin

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