Sometimes, a simple game comes along with a positive element to it that makes it purely enjoyable. Other times, your mind just went numb and it’s a struggle to keep going. Unfortunately, Ginger: Beyond the Crystal borders into the latter of those situations. Let’s take a look without the use of ginger jokes!
What’s It About?
Ginger: Beyond the Crystal follows the titular Ginger on his journey to restore order and happiness (I guess? Everyone seems sad as hell) by traveling, um, beyond crystals to purify them. An attack on his land by some dark magic dwellers left communities in ruin. The buildings are destroyed, but the communities rely on the magic of purified crystals; Ginger must purify those crystals. But also, he must gather various items, restore buildings, rescue Gingerians, and solve the occasional puzzle.
There’s not a whole lot that goes into the story. It’s fairly straightforward if a little muddled in the mediocrity of this horrible and repetitious game. On that note…
Why Should I Care?
At the start, Ginger doesn’t seem all too bad, if not just a little simple. You’ll get your premise out of the way and a little bit of training. The game will rely on a small mix of combat, magic, and puzzles for how you complete the main story, with some small sidequests to round things out. Ginger will pick up various costumes that will allow you to access newer areas or complete certain tasks. With all this going on, it has the makings to be a solid RPG. However, it never really moves to that territory. Is it a platformer? Is it a puzzle game? Hell, is it a children’s game? The more I progressed, the more I thought I was playing a children’s game, but two things stopped that mindset: some of the “puzzles” are too complicated for a child, and a character shouting “Goddamn rodents!” probably wouldn’t be slipped into a children’s game. So I guess it’s an adventure game, but there’s not much adventure to it.
A majority of what you’ll do around town is mind-numbingly droll. You’ll have the occasional enemy popping up to get in your way; they are cannon fodder. Buildings can be rebuilt with materials gathered from painfully awful places. Townsfolk will offer quests, which range from gathering two apples/pumpkins/garlic cloves, racing, and fighting a small batch of enemies. It’s all overly simple busywork. More often than not, the character who lost their apples had the apple sitting right behind them. It’s a small step up from the other NPCs that are around the town; they spend a majority of their time stating how sad they are (I have a song for them). It’s always the same thing.
That extends to the main story quests but with some minimal variety. Lotus flowers will appear and produce mirrors; entering those worlds will take you through some multi-part quest that’s effectively a glorified version of one of the community side requests; for example, I had to gather cheese for one quest in order to complete it. Completing a mission will produce a red crystal in need of purifying (so long as you are wearing the right costume! Fashion above all else). Nothing is terribly difficult, but the difficulty comes into my next point.
Then there’s awful, awful camera. You have some control over the direction, such as an auto-reset, but the game is made far more challenging with odd camera angles. Often, it will get really tight on Ginger, not allowing you to see enemies coming in to hit you. Other times, it will sway at the weirdest angle and not allow you to see where you’re about to jump. I failed a handful of quests several times because I simply couldn’t get a good depth perception angle to getting through the environment. Ginger is a game that will make you appreciate how important such an element is to a game.
Oh, and there’s a really creepy checkpoint system. When you come across the checkpoint, some small character spins around with this odd “teeheehee” type of laugh that just shouldn’t sit well with an adult. I never felt comfortable listening to it.
What Makes It Worth My Time and Money?
Ginger is by no means a terrible game. There are a lot of fine concepts in place, but the execution is too all over the place to really settle in on something engaging. Narratively, it makes enough sense. But when you apply what you need to do, it’s a struggle knowing that everything you just did in one community is going to pop back up in the next one. It’s entirely too predictable to truly be engaging.
Considering you can get the gist of the game from the first level and a half, it’s not really going to be worth dedicating too much time to. Perhaps if you want to skew the opportunity to a younger level, it can be more worth it. But, it still won’t cover up the massive amount of repetition that has the game stumble along.