Climbing video game ‘Crux: The Great Outdoors’

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Crux: a climbing game, who made his debut for iOS and android in the fall of 2020, was announced as one of the first “true” rock climbing video games. This distinction was well deserved. The mobile app was a deep, polished effort, without the spammy animation and bug-ridden unrealistic gameplay commonly found in most climbing apps. Node was a rare effort in the climbing video game world, in that it was made by climbers for climbers, and it showed.

Game developer Benjamin Dressler recently released the second iteration in the Node series, named Crux: wide open spaces. The original game featured interior issues exclusively, but, as the name suggests, Crux: wide open spaces adds the exterior block into the mix, in addition to some new features, such as dynos.

If you checked the original Node, the gameplay is largely the same here. Otherwise, here’s the gist. You control a rock climber as he tries to solve various boulder problems. You can customize your climber’s gender, clothes, shoes, hair and skin color, etc., although the customization options are quite limited.

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Your climber is controlled via virtual buttons or by swiping, and each side of the screen controls a different half of your body. Swipe left and your climber will move their legs. Swipe right and they’ll move their arms. Each limb must be moved individually. You will need to move your left hand up to grab a hold, then move your right hand up, then your left foot…and so on.

Some holds are “rest” holds, where you can hold on for as long as you want while you watch for upcoming moves, but most holds have a time limit built into them. You can only hold out so long before your climber falls.

Despite the exterior setting, the game features the same grid-based design as its predecessor. The sockets are arranged equidistant from each other, top, bottom, left and right. As mentioned above, The great outdoors incorporates dynos, an improvement over its predecessor, but gameplay remains formulaic at best and repetitive at worst.

Basically, each level of Node: The great outdoors is a combination of right, left, up or down movements with your climber’s legs and arms, trying to decipher the right combination to reach the top before falling. It feels like a mix of bouldering and math problem solving. There’s always that jolt of satisfaction when you decipher the correct sequence, but that often only comes after a long session of trial and error.

In many ways, Crux: wide open spaces reminded me a lot Guitar Hero (or another model-based time-sensitive button press). The timers on the holds are often extremely fast, so you don’t have time to think on the fly. If you haven’t inserted your beta before taking your first step, you probably won’t submit the issue. In this direction, Node mimics the natural endurance factor of rock climbing quite well. You can’t hang on to problems forever. Once you start, you better be able to roll to the finish slip.

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Another of the main draws of the original Node was the animation, and the outer frame of this new iteration gives this animation more room to shine. It is much more enjoyable and relaxing to spend time solving the game’s various rock problems, such as the ocean waves rolling in the background or the birds coast overhead, than solving the issues of its predecessor, which typically saw you staring at an empty gym. wall.

User-generated routes were another big selling point for the original game. Crux: a climbing game lets you design your own problems and then share them with other players. When Escalation reviewed the game in October 2020, Node players had already created and shared over 3,000 issues with the community. Unfortunately, user-generated issues do not return in The great outdoorsprobably because each map features a unique and dynamic exterior backdrop, as opposed to the largely featureless gymnasium wall in the first game, so the routes in The great outdoors must be custom designed by the developer.

It wasn’t really a downside for me, though. The great outdoors has nine different slots, and while I haven’t unlocked them all yet, the first two slots have over 50 issues between them, so I don’t see myself running out of content anytime soon.

The other main painting of the original Node was that it was both free AND free of pop-ups and other ads (as most mobile gamers know, those two combinations are rare in the modern age). The great outdoors, on the other hand, will cost you $3.99. Most of us spent more on protein bars at the climbing gym, so I can’t say the price is a huge concern. Once you buy the game, there are no paywalls, paid features or ads, so it’s like money well spent.

However, if you’re not sure you like The great outdoorsit makes sense to download the original Node for free instead, as the gameplay is nearly identical. The only reason I could see shelling out $3.99 for the latest iteration is if you’re a big fan of the first game, have worked out all the available issues, and are looking for more content.

All in all, if you’re a climber who comes to the sport because you like to decipher complex betas, or if you’re already a puzzle buff, you’ll probably enjoy both. Node games, and especially this new iteration. It features a soothing, almost meditative, puzzle-based look at the cerebral side of the block. When you focus on a long Node problem, navigating through the holds using a perfect beta, the overtake presents a feeling surprisingly close to the one you get when completing a difficult project in real life. It’s a delight.

But like the original game, Node: The great outdoors is not for everyone. If you are a climber who comes to sport for the love of adventure and risk, Node fails to provide much of either (which is perhaps to be expected…since this is a game you play on your smartphone). The formulaic and often repetitive nature of the gameplay means that Crux: wide open spaces can quickly become boring if played for more than 15 or 20 minutes in a row. That said, it’s a great little game to play in short bursts, on the subway, while drinking your morning coffee on the balcony, on your lunch break at work, etc.

In short, Crux: the great outdoors isn’t the long-awaited climbing video game that will bring climbers who aren’t gamers into the fold, but it does present a polished and relaxing puzzler that is sure to delight puzzle lovers, be they climbers or not.

To download Crux: wide open spaces for iOS

To download Crux: wide open spaces For Android

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Virginia F. Goins