Crumbling Review | Meta Quest 3

Crumbling VR is a fun, unique concept that is a new way of navigating the VR space.

By MariDead, Posted 25 Jan 2024

A near-universal memory is the feeling of ripping open a new toy and using it to beat up all your other toys. Crumbling VR aims to recreate that feeling in this VR roguelike that lets the player use an action figure to experience the childlike joy of invading a land of toys. Hamburg-based developer Ole Jürgensen had previously worked on the VR game Tower Tag, which was met with a positive response from many users. Jürgensen clearly has experience working with VR and has been a part of effective teams making a well-liked game. This solo adventure was a chance to make something new and unique that could shake up the world of VR gaming.

Crumbling, Review, Meta Quest 3, Gameplay, Screenshots, VR Games, NoobFeed

Crumbling VR offers the chance to exist outside the body of the main character. It is an unusual choice that we haven’t seen much of in VR games to this point. A roguelike in a VR world seems like an unusual use of the medium as it would seem the point of such a system is to allow movement, encouraging the player to be the one doing the fighting rather than having an external avatar take the reins. It is a big swing and, in the right hands, could certainly be a huge hit and almost create a genre of its own. However, it can also be a huge miss, so let’s see if Crumbling VR can pull it off.

The story in Crumbling VR is very simple. The owners of a small comic book shop called Crumble and Crafts Comics have created magic for their customers. Both metaphorically with the joy they bring to the people that come in and literally through the magic potions they have available in their store that literally bring their toys to life. In recent times, Crumble and Crafts Comics have caught the attention of a bigger company called Bose Corp, run by Boris Borisoff (best villain name ever).

Bose Corp wants to steal the magic for themselves and use it to make a profit, capturing the magic of the smaller store and leaving nothing for Crumble and Crafts Comics. This story is told to the player through a comic book available in the store, which acts as the main setting for the game. The player loads in, appearing to be a customer in Crumble and Crafts, and is able to learn this back story from a comic book on one of the shelves they are directed to read. From here, you are introduced to the sprite you, as the player, will be working with for the rest of the game, a little Crumbling toy called Crumble.

The aim of the game is to find the rest of the pages of the comic book in order to find out the rest of the story of the comic store. This is done by sending your little Crumbling into the different worlds where you can have battles with various minions, building to boss fights. At the end of each world, the player is rewarded with a coin and a page of the comic book telling the story of Crumble and Crafts Comic.

Crumbling, Review, Meta Quest 3, Gameplay, Screenshots, VR Games

The comic is read aloud by a narrator who also helps with the tutorial at the opening of the game. He brings a lot of wit and charm to the role, making fun of many tropes found in the arcade games of old that Crumbling VR has clearly taken much inspiration from. This includes loudly pointing out gold coins and sarcastically wondering if the player should be looking out for and collecting them. The comic does not have any words on the page; instead, it uses only pictures to tell the story while the narrator reads it out.

There is an option for the player to show the text under the comic, making it possible to read along with the narrator for those who want subtitles. It should be noted, however, that the narrator will only read the comic once. Should the player accidentally click off the comic book while the narrator is still talking, it is possible for you to load it back up and read the story for yourself, but it will not be performed again and, as far as I can tell, there is no way to listen to the story a second time.

The story also does not repeat or even give a reminder between chapters. While the levels are fairly short, so it can be remembered with some ease, it can be annoying if you can’t fully remember what happened before and have been a little overwhelmed by information during the tutorial or have spent too much time picking perks and have lost track of the story as a whole.

Explaining the gameplay of Crumbling VR is like trying to explain the rules of a child crashing toys into each other and having one of them explode because that is essentially what it is. Once you have selected your Crumbling, you enter a world that acts kind of like a board for a board game. Once loaded in, enemies will spawn, and it is down to the player to hold their Crumble to take down all the foes. This can be done in a variety of different ways using the Crumble’s powers. It should be noted that the player is never the one doing the actual damage. Instead, they are holding the little crumble and maneuvering his avatar around the world.

Crumbling, Review, Meta Quest 3, Gameplay, Screenshots, VR Games

However, the player does not move the Crumble by pressing up, down, left, and right on the controller. Instead, the crumble is controlled entirely by the player's hand and by them moving their hand in the space in front of them. This allows for a 3D experience that is very unusual and is certainly a new and creative way to have movement work in a game. This allows one of the basic attacks that the player learns to be simply crashing the Crumbling into the enemy as fast as you can, and the avatar automatically does a little slash of their sword to inflict damage on any enemy in their path.

There are other movements that can be performed by pressing buttons on the controller. One of these is a basic attack that lets the Crumbling swing his sword in a fairly speedy arc and inflict low levels of damage. A heavy, or special, attack is also introduced and makes the Crumbling plunge his weapon straight down in and do slightly more damage but at a much slower rate. And finally, there is a dodge function that can be used to zip out of the way of incoming attacks.

The basic and heavy attacks are very effective in Crumbling VR. Both are simple to understand and effective in their own rights. While a level could probably be completed early on with just basic attacks, later in the game, it is better to use the heavy attack to destroy enemies in an area of effect, making both skills have enough new in them for both to be worth using. The dodge, however, is far more difficult to use.

This could have been a full user error, of course, but to have the avatar suddenly zip out of your hand can be very confusing. When you try to continue moving the Crumbling, he will suddenly move slightly to the left or right of where your hand is. This is very confusing and can make it hard to carry on the fight without a moment of adjustment, which is not always possible in the middle of the battle. It seems as though it is far easier to simply whip the Crumbling out of the way yourself so you are able to track where it is in relation to your hand you can not see a little easier.

Crumbling, Review, Meta Quest 3, Gameplay, Screenshots, VR Games

The combat is wonderful in its simplicity, and the difficulty is not limited by this either. Later in the game, there are encounters that throw an unrelenting horde of enemies at the player that require genuine skill to get through, not just the random flailing that is serviceable in the earlier levels. The different terrain of the boards can be both an advantage and disadvantage in these moments as it is nice to have some cover, although it can lead to you getting your poor Crumble trapped in a corner with one incorrect move.

Apart from the slightly disconcerting dodge, Crumbling VR has very fun combat mechanics. At the end of each encounter, the player is given the opportunity to select an upgrade that will last them in this world. This is different from the perks that are selected between worlds and last multiple levels; these upgrades last for just the world the player is currently in and work on a much lower and more random scale.

After each fight, three upgrades will appear, with the player being able to choose one. These will stack until the end of the world and are seemingly random. They can range from an increase in health by 5%, an increase in the speed of basic attacks by 10%, or even an increase in the damage of heavy attacks by 30%.

There are also some that have effects that the player is passive to. These could be a small ball that floats around the Crumble and deals damage or a streak that follows the avatar, again damaging all those who move through it. These effects are very fun as they add a level of chaos and are also stackable, meaning you can be surrounded by loads of tiny spiky balls, and assuming you are lucky with the upgrade drops, their damage can be increased by anything from 10% to 300%.

Crumbling, Review, Meta Quest 3, Gameplay, Screenshots, VR Games

Between each encounter, there is also the chance that the player can be thrown into a mini-game that offers additional perks and upgrades. The most fun of these is a classic wire and ring game where the player has to move a ring along a wire without it touching and making a loud noise. While these are fun, they can break up the momentum of a run of encounters in which you have built up lots of upgrades and just want to move on with the fighting.

Between each of the worlds, there is the ability to buy perks with the coins collected in the levels. These are permanent upgrades, and a player can have three equipped at any one time. They can also be upgraded using the magic collected in each level by defeated enemies. These perks are not only very fun to have added to a Crumble but also have suitably silly names. “Healthy McHealthface” was a personal favorite, which allowed for higher maximum health, as well as “Confident,” which increased damage, while your Crumble has more health, and “Not Again!” which makes the Crumbling invulnerable for a short time after taking damage.

It is important, in VR games, to have an effective movement system to let the player explore the world. Crumbling VR has two main methods of movement. The first is only available in the hub world, and the player can press arrows that can be seen on objects in the virtual world and be teleported to the different interactable sections of the hub.

The second is a click-and-drag movement that can be used by holding the secondary trigger and moving the world to where you want it to be. This method is far harder to master. The official site for Crumbling VR boasts that it is “guaranteed motion-sickness free!” This was not my experience, and a big part of the reason was this particular movement method.

Crumbling, Review, Meta Quest 3, Gameplay, Screenshots, VR Games

Beyond this, Crumbling VR offers a high level of comfort. The games can be played both seated or standing and work great no matter how you choose to experience them. The mini-worlds that the Crumble battles take place in can be scaled up or down to the player's convenience. This means if you wish to scale them all the way down, moving the Crumbling in battle can require just a small flick of the wrists. Alternatively, the player can slide the scale all the way to the top and have to move the avatar in large arcs for a far more active experience.

The art direction in Crumbling VR is a lot of fun. The game was ultimately created to allow the player to relive the joy of being a child, opening a toy and taking it on epic battles. For this reason, the whimsical art direction creates that childish joy that is perfectly suited to such a game. The Crumbles are also customizable, with each coming with unique-looking weapons and their own design that is a very fun addition to the game.

The only voice acting in Crumbling VR is the narrator, who brings a lot of wit to the role, which is very fun to experience. The other voices come in the grunts of the Crumblings and their enemies with noises of exertion as well as a lot of death moans. The soundtrack is also very fitting, with a healthy mix of an epic soundtrack with enough small chimes and youthfulness added in to make sure the core theme of playing with toys is expressed in the soundtrack.

Crumbling, Review, Meta Quest 3, Gameplay, Screenshots, VR Games

Crumbling VR is a fun, unique concept that is a new way of navigating the VR space. The combat is fun and has enough variety to keep you entertained with the perks and upgrades available from the very opening. There are a limited number of worlds, and Crumbling VR would certainly benefit from adding more to the roster, as well as making a few quality-of-life changes, such as allowing the narrator to reread sections of the comic book and possibly adapting the movement system to something that causes a little less whiplash. Despite this, Crumbling VR is a fantastic game and well worth trying out if only to see VR used in a unique and very interesting way.

Mariella Deadman (@MariellaDead)
Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information



Platform(s): PC
Publisher(s): Crumbling Games
Developer(s): Crumbling Games
Genres: Action, Adventure
Themes: Third-Person, VR, Action, Rogue-like
Release Date: 2024-01-18

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