I finally got around to playing Crymachina, the first PS5 game I (pre)ordered before knowing when I’d get money for the console. The reviews leading up to the release left me desiring something better than I was hoping — a common issue my brain has of late. Crystar was this games spiritual predecessor, and I adored that game. The combination of character design, music, and overall tone just vibed with me.

Crymachina is more of the same, if not basically the same but with a new skin. A lot of reviews made it sound like they didn’t really improve over Crystar in this new release, and while that’s true in some regards it is much better an experience than I anticipated. The combat is still a bit clunky, it makes you feel like it wants to be fast and fluid but you get locked into animations very easily. The upside is that this time, with the diverse sub-weapon system you actually have more freedom over what abilities and actions you have at your disposal. It’s more diverse than expected, enough of a different feel to keep things fresh.

Another leg up from Crystar is that the game forces you into using one of the 3 main characters more often. They all control different but have the same sub-weapon system. The combination can go wild, I only scratched the surface because it took me 11 hours to even understand exactly how the sub-weapon system worked.

One of the worst parts about Crystar was how repetitive the game was. Not only was each area more or less making you tread the exact same map from different starting points, but the game quite literally has a plot point to make you retread all the levels again. Not to mention you have to re-enter levels to re-fight bosses for soul drops. Crymachina still has this underlying system in place, but the story is much more streamlined. Every story level is different, you don’t revisit them aside from coming back for boss data drops (which is still a random chance, and you have to do it 3+ times). The repetition is actually hidden behind a feature a friend mentioned was in some of the older .hack games. At points in the story or via completing side objectives you unlock “subnetworks”, these have a variety of randomly generated levels from 000-00 to 999-99, a number of people have cracked the way these are generated for each sub network (as obviously, not every one of the thousands of values) and there’s still a lot!

So while they didn’t completely resolve some of my woes from Crystar I think how they tweaked them for Crymachina really makes the game more streamlined and more fun. It really feels like the series wants to be a rougelike/lite where you have randomly generated levels and random load outs you can find. Crymachina is like a halfway point to that kind of game style.

Also have to applaud the once again solid character design, soundtrack (blessed be sakuzyo), and overall story and tone. It’s another wild ride and if they make yet another Cry* game I’m all for it. Especially if they improve the game more. Still debating if I want to do post-game content because Crymachina is not lacking in things to do…but I’m unsure what it is I wish to do next.