Rumours of a new Crash Bandicoot game started swirling even before Crash Bandicoot: Nsane Trilogy launched and subsequently went on to became a giant success, so it's safe to say that we've waited a long time for a sequel to Crash Bandicoot: Warped. That wait is about to end.
After weeks of rumours, leaks, teasing packages sent to journalists and influencers, and even a rating board reveal, Activision and Toys for Bob have finally unveiled Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time. I had the pleasure of talking with Paul Yan, the chief creative officer and co-studio head at developer Toys for Bob, about the new game and what it's all about, and it's fascinating to hear how they're mixing the old with the new. The core gameplay remains the same, but the inclusion of new playable characters, fresh mechanics, and even an upgraded visual style makes it clear that this is a true sequel made for both old and new gamers alike.
One of the most noteworthy features is the Quantum Masks and how they open a whole bunch of new possibilities, especially when combined with the fact that Crash and Coco are both able to wall run, grind on rails, and use ropes to get around the place. For those familiar with the franchise, these new masks are widely different from Aku Aku. While there will be four different versions in the final game, the only two Yan can talk about right now are the ones that will slow down time and manipulate gravity. Using the time mask, for example, allows you to get past fast traps and even Nitro Crates, while the gravity mask can be used to get past impossible jumps and such by walking on ceilings and other imaginative ways, and that's across both regular levels and boss fights.
These masks can't be used in all levels, however, as a certain other playable character can't use them. That's right, Neo Cortex is one of the playable characters this time around, and he has unique levels made specifically for his abilities. The mad scientist can't double-jump like the marsupials, so he has built himself something that makes it possible to dash forward and fly for a short amount of time. It's also quite difficult to spin around with that big brain of his, so instead, he'll attack hazards by using his modified ray gun. We say "modified" because it can be used to transform objects into solid or bouncy platforms based on what you want at the time. Having these options makes the Cortex-levels more puzzle-focused than the regular stages, so it'll be interesting to see how both speedrunners and Easter egg hunters will use these abilities in different ways.
In fact, options seem to be an important focus in It's About Time as Toys for Bob has also introduced a more accessible mode where you have unlimited lives, so you don't have to start over after dying too many times, making it more accessible to younger players who are perhaps not used to the stern challenge offered by platform games of old. Don't run away just yet, veteran Crash fans. The so-called Retro mode will let you play the traditional way where you have a certain number of lives to finish a level.
Modern mode, on the other hand, is there for those of you who don't want the thought of a finite number of lives hanging over your head like the Sword of Damocles while struggling with a specific part of a level. This doesn't mean that you won't be challenged, however. To that end, there's a new challenge type that will reward you with a gem if you complete a level without dying a certain number of times, so the franchise's focus on precise platforming is still very much there, no matter which way you to choose play.
That's probably also why the levels will be more linear than they were in Warped with It's About Time going back to the original's more structured approach. This not only helps the game to tell a more cohesive story but it also increases the challenge and introduces new mechanics in a more predictable way. As you can see in the new trailer, gameplay clips and screenshots found both above and below, it definitely seems like both the gameplay and bosses will be diverse in this anticipated sequel, so I can't wait to take Crash out for another spin on October 2. How about you?