Hands-On With Crow

We just dove into a preview build of Sunside’s upcoming action adventure, Crow, and came out quite impressed with what we’ve flown through so far. Sunside’s kept a pretty tight lid on what this one’s all about, so we figured we’d better fetch you some more info, pronto!

One way of succinctly describing Crow is that it’s what you’d get if you shoved Star Fox into a blender with Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain. If you’re familiar with those golden oldies that should sound completely bizarre, but stay with me on this. Roaming a series of desolate overworlds as the titular raven, the player seeks out bosses and their attendant guardians with hopes of clawing them all to shreds. Only gradually does the player become aware that a dark god has put the Crow up to this, promising eternal sustenance for all ravenkind if the sleek blackbird should follow through.

Once the player has discovered a level with the aid of pinch controls that offer a bird’s-eye view, the raven dives in for some flying action. Crow carries the partially on-rails, partially free roaming Star Fox style here, with the Crow making a swift and harrowing circuit through trap-laden caverns, forests, and valleys. The Crow flies according to a preset path and the player drags onscreen to make the bird shift around and avoid obstacles. A creature that serves the area boss usually hangs in front of the Crow dishing out attacks; avoiding these builds the Crow’s magic meter. Once it’s full the player taps it and the action slows down, Matrix-style, affording ample time to issue commands by tracing out emblems. So far we’ve had a shield and a basic claw attack to work with, the former triggered with a circle and the latter with a swipe over the target.

Our first battle with a giant demonic owl was pretty basic since it’s a tutorial after all: we just dodged and swiped away until the Crow made a puff of white feathers out of that thing. Our second battle with a ghost turned the tables on us by making the enemy invulnerable to direct attack. One has to think outside the box here, letting the enemy smash against the Crow’s shield to damage it — pretty nifty! With those guardians down, it was time to take on the first boss: a creepy scarecrow that tears up its environment with telekinesis, flinging debris as the Crow swoops in to offer the player a return shot. Between levels the player can splurge upgrade tokens on various stats and abilities, and seek crystals that flesh out the game’s story when plucked from the overworld.

But here’s where things get really interesting: after you defeat a boss, the Crow can choose to lay a curse on it or spare it. We took the latter route and got quite a chewing out from the Crow’s godlike superior. What happens if the player keeps that up? Something tells us an optional super boss, multiple endings, or some unpredictable twist is in store!

While we fly around searching for an answer to that burning question, you’d do well to keep an eye on Sunside’s website and Facebook page for the latest announcements. Let’s leave you with this humongous 10-minute gameplay preview courtesy of Sunside, and especially check out the last five minutes to get a sense of the somber mystery that fills this game. It looks like we may be treated to some serious art nouveau in videogame form when this one releases. We’ll let you know how the whole package shapes up in our review once that time comes!