Steam Cleaning #21: Crumble

Crumble was an anticipated release for me. I followed some videos I saw about it online and got really excited about the speed and precision of the tongue-slinging slime ball character, then bought the game day one.

It turned out the speed and precision were more… theoretical. At least in my case.

In Crumble, the player can move, jump, and use a tongue grappling hook to roll, bounce, and swing through levels. Momentum can be preserved and the player’s speed seems to be uncapped, allowing for a theoretical master to fly through each level. After each stage in-game, I’m presented with a list of the fastest times in each level, and some are up to thirty times as fast as my best time.

And therein lies the problem.

Crumble has amazing platforming and control. It also has a high skill floor and a higher skill ceiling. I try to pick up some speed, but end up falling off the stage. Worse, my survival instincts kick in and I spend a frustrating amount of time grappling below the platforms, grasping at straws to regain my position. Crumble is one of those games that have me leaning in my computer chair, trying to ease my movement left or right a little more, then failing because momentum reigns supreme (and also because leaning in my chair does nothing). It can be frustrating.

It can also be really fun.

When Crumble clicks, it really clicks. The speed is amazing, the jumping feels perfect, the swinging is hit-or-miss but when it hits it hits hard. In a couple well-times button presses I can be rocketing through the level as speeds Sonic the Hedgehog could only dream of. On the other hand, the game controls really well when it slows down. When I let go of the need to improve my time, the movement is just intrisically fun, and the level design often caters to both the speed demon and the careful hopper.

Sometimes the level design gets a little too chaotic for me. With stages crumbling around me, blasted to bits by cannons or torn apart by whirling windstorms, it can feel a little unfair as the tongue grapples onto a doomed piece of falling rubble. Not to mention one of the stages in particular was so dark I couldn’t see where to go, and the game has no brightness settings.

These are minor quibbles. Yes, failing to go fast can be frustrating. Yes, the grapple has its difficulties, especially when climbing up. Yes, the stages are sometimes a bit too rickety. But Crumble is a platforming experience unlike any other, with a combination of two of my favorite mechanics: Swinging and speed. While it may be best to take this game in small doses, it’s worth coming back to.

Verdict: 100 minutes total played (50 when it came out, and 50 during Steam Cleaning)

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