It's the story of Ginger, a small blue being tasked by a mysterious goddess with restoring a world beset by the destruction and corruption of the world's crystals by an unnamed menace. The main game itself is broken into 3 major hub worlds that each contain 5 core side-scrolling levels and another 5 smaller red crystal platforming levels, as well as a bunch of miscellaneous fetch quests, some time trials, and so on that add some extra gameplay substance.
To restore balance back to the world you must go from town to town clearing the map by not only purifying the red crystals into blue ones (via the platforming red crystal levels), but also by collecting the smaller blue crystals to be used as currency. The first way this is done is spending them at each hub world town's giant main crystal to bring back the townspeople that had been transported to somewhere far away. Upon their return however, they are less than pleased with things that've happened, which leads to the second way the small crystals are used- to buy vanity items for the people to use to increase their happiness. A pair of Groucho glasses with their silly nose, moustache, and eyebrows can add quite a bit of joy to a waning public opinion.
There's also a small additional building game where you slowly gather supplies through the other levels and tasks and use them to build structures of your choice throughout the towns. I haven't been able to discern exactly what they do other than take up space, but for city-building fans it may be a highlight.
Ginger combines elements from multiple game genres such as platforming, collecting, and some city-building and then adds the Metroidvania staple of unlocking new abilities (via costumes that give extra skills) you can use to access more regions and items. There's a mouse suit that lets you shrink through tiny areas, a lizard suit that spews fire, and a bard's outfit that opens a mini-game where you have to play back a button combination song on your instrument. The exploration of the main hub worlds is extremely entertaining as there's always something you can do, and is probably the highlight of the game.
The controls are very responsive and my only complaint about it is with the combat. There's a lot of enemies that need to be dispatched and the normal attack is useless resulting in taking damage every time you deal damage. The dash attack is tough to aim or land properly, and that leaves us with the only effective way to eliminate bad guys being the jump-and-stomp attack that gives out a shock wave you can see. Sadly, that's the only attack I used because it was the only reliable one that didn't get me killed.
In the essence of honesty I have to say that there were a few other annoyances as well. Not being able to skip (or speed through text) was a big one. It's very sluggish and having to sit for so long after reading each piece got irritating. I also noticed that in the red crystal purification levels, there was a tendency to occasionally fall through the ground. It didn't set me back too far, but it did bother me when it occurred seconds before the final crystal of the level. Lastly is the camera. Often, I found myself plagued by a camera that was obscured by objects in the way and trying to adjust it constantly was a pain. Having things go consistently transparent so I could see would've been a massive benefit in those cases. But, as I said, these were really just annoyances and not too awful in the bigger scheme of things.
It may be a little glitchy at times, but falling through the floors and death never set you back more than a couple minutes and that fact is far outweighed by the sheer fun factor, which is all of what my younger self would want out of a game. Ginger: Beyond the Crystal is a decent game with a lot of heart and charm to fill in where it lacks. It should be clear this game may appear shallow and repetitive for adults, but the game's whole design is pretty clearly aimed at a younger audiences, and that's exactly where it shines. The graphics and music are fitting, the world is designed with plenty of creativity, the characters are all uniquely made, and the world itself has a lot of options for exploration.
Ginger: Beyond the Crystal is a game made purely for simple enjoyment, with many nods to its 3D platforming predecessors. It's a delightful homage to the games of yesteryear, and it offers an imaginative world that is quite immersive and highly entertaining despite its few flaws.
*Review copy provided, Thank you!