In September of 2020 developer and rock climbing enthusiast Ben Dressler released Crux: A Climbing Game, which came at a very interesting point in time. Rewind to 2016 and a visit to Yosemite Valley inspired Dressler to create a game that authentically represented rock climbing while exhibiting the kind of stylized beauty of something like Alto’s Adventure. Nailing that aesthetic was a roadblock, and then in early 2020 the Covid-19 pandemic hit and gyms, including rock climbing facilities, closed down. With everyone including Dressler stuck at home with nowhere to climb, it prompted him to fashion Crux after an indoor climbing gym so that everybody in lockdown could at least go climbing in a virtual capacity.
The original plan though was to make a game that represented climbing in gorgeous outdoor settings, and so that’s where the sequel Crux: The Great Outdoors fits in. One thing that really resonated about Crux was its climbing mechanics. It focused on some core tenets of real-life climbing–carefully planning your path and then executing your plan quickly and efficiently–and translated them into something that works in a video game. This resulted in something that felt almost puzzle-like as you explored various routes and determined the most efficient and safest path to each goal. This all returns in The Great Outdoors with the added, and highly requested, new feature of being able to jump small gaps as well as full climber avatar customization.
Crux: The Great Outdoors is launching with more than 65 levels spanning across 9 absolutely stunning outdoor environments. While there was something nice about the extremely minimal indoor climbing gym visuals from the first game, these new outdoor environments, and not to mention the excellent audio accompanying them, make a huge difference. While both Crux games capture the essence of the climbing itself in a very clever mechanical fashion, The Great Outdoors really captures the feeling of performing physical activities in nature and “taking it all in” as you reflect on your time spent and accomplishments. As the kids might say today: It’s a whole vibe.
If you aren’t sure if Crux: The Great Outdoors might be your thing, you can download the original Crux for free to see if its mechanics appeal to you. If they do then Crux: The Great Outdoors is a pay-once premium game and comes with the aforementioned 65+ levels with more surely planned for updates. Plus you can always buy loads of additional levels and features through various IAP in the first game if you really just can’t get enough. Whatever route you take, Crux is a game well worth your time and even as someone who doesn’t do actual rock climbing myself the whole thing is incredibly enjoyable both from a thematic aspect and as a really solid puzzle game.