Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time review — Platforming at its best

As I sit here writing this review, I just want to be playing more Crash.

Crash Bandicoot 4 Crash Piano
(Image: © Windows Central)

As much as I love platformers, I've never played a Crash Bandicoot game (that's what happens when you grow up without a PlayStation, sorry). Given this lapse in my experience, I was eager to give Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time a go. Across several different dimensions I got to play as Crash, Coco, Tawna, Dingodile, and Neo Cortex. While the first two play very much the same, the last three all have their own unique move sets to utilize, changing up the way you approach enemies and obstacles.

Toys For Bob did an excellent job at bringing Crash Bandicoot back for everyone to enjoy. That signature difficulty is still there, and while I swore at my television more than a few times, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Disclaimer: This review was made possible by a review code provided by Activision. The company did not see the contents of the review before publishing.

Crash Bandicoot 4 What I like

Crash Bandicoot 4 Coco Ice Level

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
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TitleCrash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time
DeveloperToys For Bob
Xbox VersionXbox One X
Game Size24.9GB
Play Time8 hours
PlayersSingle-player, multiplayer
Xbox Game PassNo
Launch Price$60

The crux of Crash Bandicoot 4 is its four Quantum Masks, granting the wearer unique abilities that completely mix up how a level must be approached. Masks can phase objects in and out of existence, slow time, reverse gravity, and create a dark vortex. I liked the masks so much that it got to a point where I was disappointed when I wasn't wearing one. I realize having one on all the time when a level isn't designed for it would essentially break the game (or just make the mask useless), but they're just so fun to use I wanted more of them.

The Quantum Masks are the best new additions.

It's hard to say whether the dimensions gradually increase in difficulty the further along you are, at least in my opinion, but the levels within a dimension do. For example, other than the starting world on N. Sanity Island, I didn't feel that any one, in particular, was overwhelmingly difficult compared to the others (except maybe the last level, but that's a different story). What struck me time and time again was that it was easier for me to beat a level if I sped through it, which is the opposite of what you'd expect.

Crash Bandicoot 4 Dingodile

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

After a while, I had to learn not to overthink and hesitate my movements. This is easier said than done considering it goes against your natural instinct to wait it out and time your platforming precisely. I made it past difficult sections by going as quickly as possible, only jumping on a platform once and usually standing for a split second. Whenever I took the time to position myself, that's when I'd usually fail.

Toys For Bob included a Modern gameplay mode in addition to its Retro mode, making it much more accessible to people. Retro mode plays just like you remember it, with a finite amount of lives. Once you run out, you start the level over completely. In Modern mode, players have an unlimited number of lives and always respawn from the most recent checkpoint. I played the entire game in Modern mode with no remorse. Let me die a few hundred times until I get it right. I like a good challenge, but I'm not masochistic.

Crash Bandicoot 4 What I don't like

Crash Bandicoot 4 Coco Ice Level

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Remember how I've praised its platforming? Well, it's amazing 99.9% of the time. It's all too easy to overshoot or undershoot platforms that you're jumping to in front of or behind you. Even with an indicator that pops up when you're in the air showing where your character is in relation to the ground, it was a constant annoyance throughout most levels.

I also wasn't a huge fan of Neo Cortex's abilities, mainly his ray gun being used to transform enemies into platforms. It's useful for platforming purposes, obviously, but isn't much fun otherwise when aiming in this game isn't the best.

Crash Bandicoot 4 Should you buy it?

Crash Bandicoot 4 N Verted

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

It's really hard to say anything bad about Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time. It nails the level design, gameplay, art style, and platforming aspects so well. I may not be able to remember the story all that much (the multiverse pops up and Neo Cortex goes back in time to stop Crash Bandicoot from existing?) but I wasn't playing it for the story, anyway.

Fans of the Crash Bandicoot series will definitely want to pick this one up. And if you've never played before because you were worried you couldn't beat it, give Modern mode a try this time around. Crash is back and better than ever, and I can't wait to see what the future holds for this series.

Jennifer Locke

Jennifer Locke has been playing video games nearly her entire life, and is very happy Xbox is growing a stronger first-party portfolio. You can find her obsessing over Star Wars and other geeky things on Twitter @JenLocke95.