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Crux: The Great Outdoors review - "Looks can be deceiving'"

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| Crux: The Great Outdoors
Crux: The Great Outdoors review - "Looks can be deceiving'"

I've never really been much of an outdoorsy person, which is why I get my "outdoor sports" kick out of virtual experiences rather than actual ones. I suppose it's no surprise that Crux: The Great Outdoors appealed to me at first glance thanks to its visuals alone, but is Mindgames Studios' premium sequel to its free-to-play climbing game worth the time and effort?

Table of contents:


The goal is incredibly simple in Crux: The Great Outdoors - you'll essentially have to do some chill rock climbing while enjoying, well, the great outdoors. Swiping (or tapping, if you're using virtual buttons) on the right side of your screen controls your arms while doing so on the left side controls your feet. You'll have to master the precision placing of both to make it to the top, because getting to the summit isn't all about grabbing footholds willy-nilly. Proper path planning is crucial here, especially since you can't stay in one place for too long.

This, of course, is my biggest gripe with the game, because while the visuals look absolutely stunning, the timers kick in eventually and it all goes downhill from there. But I'll get to that later.

When it comes to the game's aesthetics, it's pretty enjoyable to see the minimalist graphics and to listen to the totally chill background music. I absolutely loved ogling at the beautiful scenery on every stage while the Zen score serenaded me in the background. If only I could stay that way - holding on for dear life - forever, I would.


Of course, you CAN'T stay that way forever, because once your hands grab onto those rocks, a circle starts looping in the centre of your screen, indicating how long you've got left before you slip and fall down to your untimely demise (or onto a mat). When your feet step onto a rock, you can linger for a bit while you formulate your plan of attack - but once your hands start moving, so does the timer, and it's not at all forgiving.

There are certain points that serve as your checkpoint, however, so all you really need to do is to get from one checkpoint to another before you need to plan your path all over again. But as easy as that may sound, doing so in the actual game is complicated as heck. In that sense, it becomes a very contradictory experience - on one hand, you've got the lovely visuals and music lulling you into a false sense of security, but on the other, you need to race to the top of the mountain in perfectly positioned placements or fail the game. It doesn't help that you've got a move counter too, so spamming those buttons won't work to your advantage here.


Crux: The Great Outdoors leaves me utterly torn. No matter how satisfying it is to finally get to the summit after numerous tries, it still doesn't feel like it's worth all the stress of getting there, especially when the game presents itself as a chill title at first glance thanks to its visuals. There's a practice mode where you can train to get your bearings right, but it doesn't unlock levels for you, which is just a darn shame.

In the end, the premium title might be worth a go if you enjoyed its free-to-play predecessor, as it now features revamped visuals and lovely landscapes you can unlock as you progress through the game. Given its stressful nature disguised under a chill cover, however, you might be in for a surprise - whether or not it's a pleasant one is entirely up to you.


Crux: The Great Outdoors review - "Looks can be deceiving'"

Crux: The Great Outdoors features precision climbing coupled with relaxing music and lovely visuals. It's a contradictory mix of sorts, which isn't my cup of tea - but if you can find a way to manage your expectations going into the game, then it might just be yours.
Catherine Dellosa
Catherine Dellosa
Catherine plays video games for a living, reads comics for inspiration, and writes because she’s in love with words. Her Young Adult fantasy novel, Of Myths And Men, has been published by Penguin Random House SEA and is her love letter to gamer geeks, mythological creatures, aliens, and epic quests to save the world. She one day hopes to soar the skies as a superhero, but for now, she strongly believes in saving lives through her works in fiction. Check out her books at, or follow her on FB/IG/Twitter at @thenoobwife.