If you enjoy the Nights games or perhaps wind glider games that involve flying through rings, then perhaps Ayre and the Crystal Comet may scratch a very specific itch. In this game you’ll be exploring a 64km square map on the back of your trusty dragon. Explore ruins and landmarks, collect crystals and complete ring races as you find out more about the world you inhabit. The premise sounds quite good but unfortunately my time with the game was full of toil and trouble.
You have two methods of transport. You can move around on foot, which does include swimming and jumping. This is the slowest form of moving and also the jankiest. I found myself getting stuck inside terrain or building pillars constantly and unable to get myself out again, resulting in me having to reset myself back to the starting position on the map. This became increasingly annoying because in order to collect anything other than crystals, you have to dismount your dragon and its often the dismounting that causes you to get off your dragon and fall through the floor without the game noticing. For something so obvious and basic, it was a shame this plagued my playtime on the console versions.
Things are thankfully better on the back of your dragon as it comes with two modes of control. The first is a functional flight mode (you can invert controls too which is nice) that allows you to use the left analogue stick to turn and the shoulder buttons to change altitude. This works quite nicely whilst ever feeling like you are truly alive either. Sometimes you’ll need to pick up something like a mystical marble or line up a ring and for this you can press a button to change to precision controls. In precision mode you don’t move forward, you hover on the spot and adjust your pitch and altitude slowly. This can result in some funny moments where your dragon is flying on its side and looking very confused. It’s also quite finickity to get precise movement with too. At least you don’t need to use it too often – only in the largely optional marble challenge puzzles which ask you pick up a marble and drop it into a chute like an odd mini golf game.
Whilst the controls are a mixed bag, the environment is large and sprawling with several biomes to explore. There is a lot of copy/paste going on with some colour palette changes but at least you’ll have some fun exploring and uncovering the map as a whole. As you do, you’ll uncover some unique structures and landmarks that give the tiniest piece of lore, or you’ll find some cosmetic armour or power ups to enhance your dragons top speed or turning circle. You’ll also have a boost that requires charging that you can reduce the cool down on with power ups too. These are largely hidden in mountain nooks whereas the 400 crystals are scattered everywhere for you to collect to complete the story.
There is no difficulty to speak of, no combat or external time pressures. It’s just you and the land and there is something to be said about just being given total freedom. It is one of Ayre’s strengths but it exposed just how bare bones the game actually is. Ring Races provide the only mild challenge and that’s because if you fly too high, your dragon gets tired and slumps down. You may need to time a boost and aim quickly to clear some high places rings if you haven’t upgraded your dragon much… and that’s about it.
For me, whilst Ayre and the Crystal Comet is riddled with bugs and weirdness, it was the empty feeling I had flying around aimlessly with little to uncover that ultimately annoyed me most. This is a decent premise (done better with AER if it interests you) but devoid of a rich world to explore. I was bored after 15 minutes as I’ve flown from end to end and seen most of what made each part of the map unique. From there, its just a finickity collectathon I just didn’t connect with.
Review copy provided by the publisher. PS5 version tested.
Ayre and the Crystal Comet
Riddled with bugs and aimless without direction. This is one of the emptiest games I've played in a while.
Laudable scope of its map - which hints at something better than never comes.
Day/Night cycle can make for some nice stylised graphics.
Walking often ends in you getting stuck in the terrain.
Precision control scheme often is frustrating to use.
No direction or thing to aim for beyond blindly collecting crystals for zero reward.
A huge world... but its totally empty.
Higher Plain Games is part of the Higher Plain Network. If you like what I do, please consider supporting me via Patreon for as little as $1/£1 a month. There are additional perks for supporting me, such as behind-the-scenes content and downloads. You can also share the website or use the affiliate buy now links on reviews. Buying credit from CD Keys using my affiliate link means I get a couple of pence per sale. All your support will enable me to produce better content, more often. Thank you.