The core idea behind Crush is phenomenal. Your goal is to navigate each level - made up from a series of platforms and hazards - while collecting enough “marbles” along the way to open up the exit. And the sexy twist? At any moment, you can “crush” the game world into 2D. The camera can be spun through 90-degree sweeps or flipped to a top-down view, with each particular perspective offering a differing 2D result upon crushing. So, within each 3D stage, there are dozens of configurations just waiting to be packed together. It’s a sports massage and a half for that bit of your brain that gets off on spatial awareness.
There’s even a back story that’s not, well, crap. You play Danny, a troubled youngster who’s dogged by insomnia to the point that he’s now entrusted himself to an oddball professor and his virtual-reality creation “Crush” in a bid for a cure. Crush enables Danny to roam his own psyche, unclogging his neuroses with each of the 40 levels completed, which explains a visual style that’s not too far removed from Psychonauts’ dark, dreamy wallpaper.
Crush is a neat idea backed up by strong, confident execution. It won’t be too long into the game before you begin to feel challenged, but once all the pieces (literally) fall into place, it’ll leave you with a warm glow in that part of your brain that games like God of War 2 rarely manage to stoke. The one nag is that it all feels somewhat over-complicated - outside of the central “crush” idea, there are perhaps too many elements to keep track of alongside the simple pleasure of being able to warp the world around you. We’d have rather had more levels that allowed each of the concepts - enemies, moving platforms, shovable objects, special symbols that can stop time, “ghost” walls that become transparent when crushed - to breathe and sink in more gradually, rather than chucking them all in at once in the early levels. But, given the experience and the strength of the hook that’s on hand, it really just feels like nitpicking.
Seriously, even if it doesn’t sound like your thing, you should still go out and buy it just to show some support for the skilled thinking and sparkly imagination behind it all. It does exactly what a memorable puzzle game should - lets you explore the inside of your own head, and feel smarter and more refreshed for it.