Hands-on preview: Crash Bandicoot 4 is both gorgeous and infuriating

A terrifying 22 years after Crash Bandicoot 3, the fourth entry into one of gaming's most iconic franchises is aptly named 'It's About Time'. 

For those invested in the wider narrative bandi-verse, the game takes place canonically after 1998's Crash 3: Warped, disregarding intervening games and pitting players once again against the maniacal Dr Neo Cortex. 

The first thing that struck me on booting up my demo was how the graphics are both slickly modern and pleasingly nostalgic. Crash 4 looks like how you remember video games looking as a child - hyper-saturated and comfortingly cartoonish.   

That feeling of comfort didn't last though, as I was quickly humbled by the precision platforming required once I started bashing my head against the three levels available to me. 

Long time fans, or players of the recent Crash trilogy remaster, will undoubtedly be familiar with the sometimes punishing difficulty this series requires.

Thankfully the developers, Toys for Bob, obviously had easily frustrated fans in mind as Crash 4 comes with two difficulty modes, 'retro' and 'modern'.

In retro mode, you have a limited number of lives but in modern, you can die as many times as you please without seeing a game over the screen. A welcome addition for those of us now depressingly less dexterous than their ten-year-old selves.  

In terms of what you spend the game doing, it's a very familiar romp, smashing boxes, fleeing oncoming dangers and endlessly replaying levels to gather every last fruit and collectible. 

The biggest difference is the introduction of 'Quantum Masks', which grant Crash special powers at the click of a button for limited sections of the level. 

One mask slowed time, adding an interesting wrinkle to sections of the level which required meticulous timing. The second phased sections of the level in and out of existence making my frantic scramble to snatch items while avoiding enemies even more fraught.  

Overall, I was left feeling Crash 4 delivers a beautifully presented vision of a dated formula. Fans of the original trilogy will surely find a lot to love but the slice I experienced left me wondering if there's enough here to entice new players into the franchise. 

Rarely have I missed the way PlayStation 1 games felt to play and this feels like a game faithful to the original formula almost to a fault. 

Crash does take a selfie when he finishes a level now, so that's cool, I guess?  

Listen to the podcast for the full discussion of Crash 4. A gameplay demo for Crash 4: It's About Time was provided to Newshub by Activision.

Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time is set to release on October 2 for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.