Crescent Pale Mist – The PS3 Attitude Review
Crescent Pale Mist is a crazy fast 2.5D action platformer developed by ClassiC Shikoukairo. As with The Gundemonium Collection, which was Rockin’ Android’s previous PSN offering, Crescent Pale Mist was only available in Japan for the PC.
If you’re looking for one of the most frustrating gaming experiences ever, you’ll definitely want to play this game.
In Crescent Pale Mist you play as Yunou, a magician that can use the power of the Pale Mist to her advantage. The story isn’t all that interesting. There’s a dangerous amount of Pale Mist in another dimension and Yunou has to find out why and put an end to the madness. As she progresses through each level, she eventually has to unwillingly fight her friends. Despite the humor thrown in, the story takes itself way too seriously to be entertaining after the first two levels. You won’t be missing much if you skip the text.
The gameplay is really where this game shines. Yunou is equipped with a sword, an infinite amount of knives, and she can cast magic. For the most part, you’ll be pressing the square button a lot to do basic combos. More advanced level play requires you to press the triangle button a few times to cast powerful eye candy-filled magic. Yunou also has the ability to guard, double jump, dash, and she even perform Ryu Hayabusa style wall jumps. During boss fights Yunou is even given the ability to fly.
The magic system is a bit confusing at first. Every time you attack an enemy, Pale Mist seeps out of their body. If you press the Special button when the mist are on screen, you’ll be able to do a powerful magic attack. If you absorb the Pale Mist, you’ll most notably regain health and receive a slight HP boost. You can also perform different magic spells by throwing out your own collection of Pale Mist accumulated. Another way to cast magic is to use your CP, but there are limits to the amount of times you can use it and severe consequences if you abuse that power. It may sound complicated, and it really is. There’s just so much to wrap your head around in this game.
Despite this being a 2D sidescroller, there are multiple planes to switch to thanks to the labyrinth style level designs. For the most part, it’s not too difficult to figure out where you have to go. Most paths will lead you in the right direction and contain a nice variety of enemies to fight along the way. There six stages total and they are relatively short in length, with the first level clocking in at less than five minutes. Of course, that’s assuming that you didn’t die countless times. Even on Normal, the difficulty in this game is pretty brutal.
If you try to play without going to the tutorial mode first, you most likely won’t know what to do at all. The tutorial is well done and it lets you practice each gameplay aspect for yourself without dangers. One of the more difficult tasks is trying to bounce off stunned enemies continuously to reach higher platforms. You can also download the full manual from the official Crescent Pale Mist website.
The problem with Crescent Pale Mist is that it tries to be too complicated for its own good. For instance, the special ability called Fear PM first requires you to press triangle twice and then proceed with up, up, triangle to actually activate the move. It’s not exactly a difficult series of commands to do, but it does get you into trouble when trying to dodge an entire screen full of projectiles during a boss fight. The last thing you’ll want to do is stand still but you pretty much have to for certain attacks (same goes for the enhanced knife throwing ability). Many of the actions this game requires you to do through directional prompts should have just been mapped to a button.
Even the difficulty is uneven. The first two stages are pretty easy and not too frustrating, but you might die once or twice. Then you get to Stage 3 and everything becomes a mess. The level is a giant maze that gives you no sense of direction and features some of the most annoying enemies in the game. After spending 2 hours on a level that should have taken 15 minutes to complete, I finally reached an equally frustrating boss fight. It just wasn’t fun.
Speaking of boss fights, most of them are overly tedious for no particular reason. The AI seems to be the root of the problem. The bosses simply move around the screen way too fast for you to get a chance to do anything. As if that wasn’t bad enough, most of their attacks consist of projectiles that clutter the screen and push you away. Their attack pattern isn’t exactly consistent either. To make matters worse, when you do finally close in on the enemy, they are constantly running away from you. If you miss your chance to attack them during one of their few openings, you have to wait for their next series of attacks.
As if the constant game of keep away wasn’t enough, the AI will sometimes put their shield up directly after doing an attack that pushes you away. So, not only are you unable to get close to the boss for most of the fight, there will be moments when you can barely do any damage to them regardless. Many of these problems wouldn’t be so pronounced if the AI didn’t constantly run away from you. That alone is incredibly frustrating and needlessly prolongs the fight.
Crescent Pale Mist’s visuals have been touched up since its original release, and it looks quite good. It’s clear that this game isn’t a graphical powerhouse, but it does run at a beautifully smooth framerate and features classic sprites that old school fans will love. The special abilities in particular look spectacular, especially during one of the last boss fights. It would make for an amazing music visualization or dynamic theme. That said, the 3D environments are somewhat bland looking and very basic.
The soundtrack is decent as well. It starts off wonderfully with appropriately mystical tracks, but the music quickly becomes as frustrating and annoying as the game itself. Unlike The Gundemonium Collection, there is no support for custom soundtracks. In fact, screenshot capturing, video recording, and Remote Play support are all missing from this release.
Replay value in this games mostly comes from multiple difficult modes and finding hidden treasures. The hidden items actually give you new attributes or even change your magic spells. Other than that, there are online leaderboards and trophies (obviously).
Crescent Pale Mist is a game with great ideas but the execution is just too flawed to be enjoyable. If you’re into games with an oldschool charm then Crescent Pale Mist might be for you. The mixture of platforming, action, and even bullet-hell shmup gameplay is intriguing enough for at least a full playthrough. Just be prepared for an incredibly frustrating experience along the way. On the plus side, CPM is only $5.99/£3.99/€4.99. While this might be a difficult game to recommend for most people, the price is quite enticing. That money could be used to buy better games though.
Let’s hope that Rockin’ Android’s third PSN release isn’t nearly as annoying as this one.