Krinkle Krushers: Review
Entertaining voice-acting and dialogue
Mostly enjoyable gameplay
Variety of Enemies
Lack of features and content
Colorful but overall bland art and animation
Nonadjustable and unnecessary default difficulty
Krinkle Krushers blends simple tower-defense tactics with hectic, real-time action for an overall fun but light and uncreative experience. While its gameplay and content may not be as innovative or rewarding as other contenders of the same genre, Ilusis Interactive Graphic’s cartoonish wave-defense title for the PS3, 4, and Vita makes for an inoffensive, recreational time killer.
An ancient tree in the center of an unnamed kingdom bears its first fruit in centuries. The fruit is baked into a giant, aromatic cake that attracts the attention of the king of the krinkles, prompting him to send forth his krinkle army – waves of little monsters with ravenous appetites and giant, jagged-toothed mouths to match – to take it by force. It’s left up to the Mage and his Magic Glove to protect the castle wall that stands between the krinkles and the cake and eventually bring down the krinkle king.
Players control the Magic Glove as he hovers over the battlefield, serving as an aim reticle and dispensing magical kablooie upon waves of charging krinkles. Attacks are cast from the Glove’s various magic rings of typical variety – lightning (referred to as “shock”), fire, ice, wind, etc. Using any spell too often will drain its mana pool and eventually “break” its corresponding ring, making players wait a few seconds before casting any further. The NPC Mage can also be called upon to launch powerful, sweeping spells from the castle wall.
The game starts players with a single ability and unlocks further abilities at the scripted discretion of the Mage. This means playing through several levels with limited powers until the Mage just so happens to find a new ring on his person. This quasi-progression unlock system felt arbitrary and I often felt that a transparent, player-guided acquisition of abilities would’ve been more rewarding, especially given that the game sixty stage campaign is full of level-to-level spikes in difficulty. As early as level eight, I found myself overwhelmed by markedly larger packs of krinkles without any added abilities or boosts, resulting in an enduring, forty-minute episode of uninspired retries and rage quits. Thereafter, I breezed through stage after stage, only to hit a similar wall twelve levels later. Developers would’ve done well to include customizable gameplay settings, difficulty settings, or handicaps to alter the sponginess of enemies, ring casting limitations, or at least display enemy health meters. The default difficulty setting felt unessential to the experience and varying difficulties could have helped offer more to a broader audience of diverse skill levels. Furthermore, the game’s lack of alternative game modes or readily accessible online-rankings (other than PSN’s achievement leaderboards) adversely affect the game’s replayability and life-cycle.
Completing levels with near-perfect scores rewards players with “diamonds” which can then be exchanged in the Mage’s Room menu for ring upgrades. While players can select which ring they would like to upgrade, there is no option to customize the way in which rings will actually be affected. For example, upgrading the fire ring from level one to level two will boost its regen and radius but not its damage.Damage won’t be affected until the second upgrade. The resulting quasi-customization system is overly simple and feels as though it were built to protect players from themselves. Understandably, this kind of limitation could prevent players from quickly crafting overpowered or unbalanced rings. However, if rings’ independent, upgradeable attributes had been properly balanced and left up to players’ discretion, many, in theory, would want to build all-around balanced rings. And if not, the freedom to build rings according to players’ preferences would have at least have added a decent amount of depth and freedom to gameplay.
Charging krinkles come in several variants including elemental, armored, and zig-zagging krinkles, to name a few. Challenging bosses with puzzle-like weaknesses and solutions also add a good bit of variety to the game’s diverse encyclopedia of mobs. Despite the diversity, defeating most enemies is often a very square-peg-into-square-hole process with little room for experimentation or creativity, i.e. fire mobs are strengthened by players’ fire attacks, wind by wind, etc., and defeated by their opposite elements. I often found myself baffled this lack of complexity and unsure of whether I’d missed some core gameplay element during the game’s tutorial. These limited mechanics result in a relatively low skill ceiling with little room for experimentation and a title that doesn’t seem to have maximized its potential. The spells available to players in the game are very much enjoyable to use so some additional spell functions – maybe the ability to combo spells or alternate fire modes – could have made gameplay shine. For instance, I would have loved to have been able to combo the game’s fire-wall and hurricane spells to launch burning cyclones at my enemies and was frankly surprised I couldn’t.
Spells have a nice audio delivery to them which gives them weight. Mobs’ hit reactions are silly and match the game’s cartoony style but get annoying because of how often they’re triggered. The soundtrack consists of unsettling, generic music loops that can luckily be muted distinctly from the game’s sound effects. Krinkle Krusher’s story is conveyed through a handful of 2½-D cutscenes with intentionally over-the-top voiceovers and several text dialogues laden with amusing references to pop sci-fi/fantasy nerdology. While environments were bland and character designs verged on tacky, both were pleasantly colorful and did their job.
Krinkle Krushers will feel like a step backward to most fans of tower and wave-defense games. Its lack of complexity and features feel more suited for a free-to-play platform with micro-transactions than a PS4 or PS3. In fact, between the single game mode, scant adjustable settings, and repeated environments, there was little to remind me I wasn’t playing an iOS port. Colorful and hectic gameplay may present a decent helping of fun to anyone looking for a light diversion but fails to translate into a fulfilling challenge essential to anyone’s game library.
Reviewed for PS4