Spryo the Dragon in the Spyro Reignited Trilogy is a remake of a game that came from a very different time in 3D action-platformers. Arriving two years after Nintendo showed the world how 3D platformers should be done with Super Mario 64, Spyro goes for a more basic formula of gameplay, having you simply make it to the end of a level in one piece, while also requiring you to gather a fairly small number of the collectibles in each world. The production value in the remake is extremely high, but don’t expect to be blown away by the gameplay. 1998 was a different era, for sure.
Spyro the Dragon has you playing as Spyro (perhaps obvious), saving your dragon friends who have been turned into stone statues by the Gnasty Gnorc. Spyro has the power to turn these statues back into the dragons they originally were, and along the way, you collect gems. The gems are mostly there for the completionist, who wants to get every last gem in a level to consider the game “100% completed.” Occasionally, you need a small number of gems to progress to the next world, but I don’t remember having to go back and pick up additional gems. Just get the ones on the main path and you’ll be fine. The dragon statues are usually in obvious places, because they also serve as checkpoints, though a handful are in difficult-to-reach places.
Spyro has three basic talents: he can shoot fire (very useful), he can charge into things (slightly less useful), and he can jump and glide (probably necessary for a platform game). That’s all Spyro is really good at. You’re going to notice that Spyro is a less capable character than, say, Mario. The game gets a lot of mileage out of switching up enemies and how they attack you. Basically, if an enemy isn’t wearing a metal vest, it can be flamed. If it is wearing a metal vest, it needs to be charged at. There’s more nuance to what each enemy can do, but that’s the basic language of enemy encounters. You will find plenty of cheap deaths, where you accidentally fall into the lake and can’t get out. This is probably my least favorite thing about the game.
The game has incredible production value, which is the main reason I would recommend it. The graphics, the voice acting, and the character design are all superb, which you can only get when you throw a massive amount of money at development, which I’m sure Activision did. It’s an Unreal Engine 4 game, and it has the look of an Unreal Engine 4 game, which isn’t a criticism. The game ran at 60 frames per second on my fairly modest GPU. Unfortunately the load times are unacceptably long, especially considering how fast my SSD is. The developers probably made load times with PS4/XBONE in mind.
All in all, it’s a light romp through fantasy-land. Expect to be blown away by the graphics, and underwhelmed by the gameplay. It bears mentioning that this is a kid-friendly game, so the difficulty level is pretty low through most of the game, even up to the final boss fight. The game has almost zero bugs, and never crashed on me, which is an incredible feat for any developer. It would have been nice to get a proper Spyro 4, like we got a Crash Bandicoot 4, but sometimes you have to be grateful for what you do get. If the Spyro Reignited Trilogy goes on sale on Steam, there are worse ways to spend your money.