Skully's Review of Crystal Key

Posted by: gatorlaw

Skully's Review of Crystal Key - 04/06/02 12:23 AM

Again - just posting this as a separate thread so I can include it at the review list smile

Just wrapped up The Crystal Key. While it had some good points, I can’t say that I had a whiz-bang time.

I thought it quite a short game. The worlds you explore are big, but there just wasn’t that much to do. Imagine free access to a storeroom on the enemy’s ship, but you don’t take anything from there! And all those tool chests and storage containers left unopened! (Of course, you ARE on a mission to save the Earth – no time for lollygaging!) The graphics had serious potential to be jaw-dropping beautiful, (the pictures on the box and on the save/restore screen were certainly gorgeous), but in the game itself they were kind of muddy. And in Ozgar’s ship it was too dark to really see what you were looking at.

Numerous glitches caused by problems with QuickTime (thanks again to Jenny100 for her assistance). The game also either froze or crashed a few times if I tried to use or look at the portable portal at incorrect moments.

I was pretty annoyed with the inventory management. There is no way to really examine the few objects you find. You’re shown a quick close-up when you first pick it up, and then it becomes a small icon in your inventory. What was that thing found outside the elevator on the flooded world? I know what the walkthrough said it was, but without that help, I’d still be in the dark. Manipulation of objects was not always handled consistently either, especially at the end of the game, trying to finagle the image projector and the portal. On the plus side, objects disappeared from inventory once you no longer need them.

The worst plot hole was being thrown in a jail cell but allowed to keep my backpack – sure made escaping easy! The fun moments include the several rides you get to take (I’m amazed at how quickly I pick up alien technology!)

I can’t exactly sing from the rooftops about this game, but there was enough here that I’m interested in its sequel. I’ve seen a lot of other thumbs-down here at GB, and it makes me wonder why the developers think there is a market for a sequel of a game that a lot of people don’t think too highly of. I just hope it has more meat to it and the quality of the graphics is vastly improved.

Posted by: syd

Re: Skully's Review of Crystal Key - 04/06/02 09:54 AM

I thought the game was so-so. Not one of my favorites but I didn't totally hate it either. I didn't remember having any problems at all with bugs or crashing except saving as I recall.

I will probably play it again in the future - as soon as I weed through my current stack of unplayed games (which at my current rate of play vs stack should take me 10 years) lol
Posted by: burpee

Re: Skully's Review of Crystal Key - 04/06/02 12:59 PM

Syd, that's probably only if you never buy another game smile

Skully, you hit the nail on the head with this game. I enjoyed it more than most, but I'm easy to please. I would think if they could address the downfalls that you mention, they just might have a winner on their hands. Let's hope so.
Posted by: lasanidine

Re: Skully's Review of Crystal Key - 04/06/02 03:34 PM

At first I tired to play this game on Win 98 and I found it buggy. For example it was almost impossible to turn the lock switch to the right in the jail. Some jail where the lock is right in the cell! In Win Me the game performed well, the graphics looked not only OK but some places they were actually beautiful. I liked the mining of the special stones and manufacturing the coin. I thought that the idea of the holographic pool was a good one.

I would not say that this game is the all time favorite of mine but I have seen worth and I my even play it again. I hope that the sequel will be better and I am willing to give it a chance.
Posted by: JohnBoy

Re: Skully's Review of Crystal Key - 06/02/03 03:12 PM

I agree with Scully's review for the most part. The majority of the game was so dark to the point of being extremely annoying. The environments were not at all interesting to me. Game play was boring and theres no way a few of the puzzles could have been figured out without the walkthrough.
Posted by: Aussiemystic

Re: Skully's Review of Crystal Key - 04/03/04 07:19 PM

I've just played this game and have to agree, for the most part, with Skully's review.

The only substantial point of disagreement would be bugs. I played the game on XP and it was bug-free - not a single crash, and I didn't even have to use Win98 emulation mode. However, my game was version 1.1. If playing version 1.0 visit the technical help section on the Dreamcatcher website to download an essential patch. There were some other patches that were on the website but I completed the game without having to use any of them.

Some other points:
- I found the plot pretty much absent. It was never absolutely clear to me exactly who the race was who had manufactured the Crystal Key, precisely what Ozgar had done, etc. The ending was also extremely abrupt and unrewarding, with just a simple congratulations message flashed on the screen.

- As Skully says, the graphics were not great. They reminded me of the Schizm CD version: probably great to start off with but they were blocky, dark and often unclear on screen (and I have a pretty powerful machine). This meant I had a problem with reading some of the alien numbers, many of which look alike. I eventually had to resort to a walkthrough to solve one puzzle due to this problem, even though I knew basically what to do.

- The interface was fairly frustrating. The game does not feature a way to install the whole game on your hard drive and you have to use the CDs. The game consists of a series of 360 degree quicktime locations, with a short quicktime cutscene playing each time you move between locations. There was usually a significant pause each time you moved from one location to another as the game loaded up the cutscene from the CD. There was also no quick jump mode. The slow speed of the game made solving some puzzles very frustrating because when attempting to use a particular inventory item on a hotspot in the game you were not sure whether the item had failed, or whether it was just an issue of game delay in registering what you had done.

- I consider it a rule of adventure games that you shouldn't allow the protagonist to become irretrievably stuck. If they have to pick up an object from one location and use it in another, or note a certain piece of information like a set of co-ordinates, there should always be a way to get back to the first location. Unfortunately, The Crystal Key breaks this rule. In some cases, if you move on without having found everything you need, you will eventually die. For this reason, keep multiple separate saves so that you can go a fair way back if necessary - don't keep writing over your progress as you may end up having to start from scratch if you've failed to pick something up.

- Following on from this - several of the essential inventory objects were very well concealed. The smudgy graphics didn't help things. Plus, in some scenes just looking around wouldn't allow you to see something virtually out of shot at your feet. Even when it looks like you can see the main object in a scene, look around carefully, including up and down. You may be missing something.

- A couple of the puzzles are a little contrived. The inventory is reasonably small and manageable, and once you use an object it generally disappears from the inventory. However, this can be misleading. For one puzzle you have to reuse something you have used previously, which means you have to go back and pick it up again. The fact that it's gone from your inventory misleads you into thinking it's had its one use.

- Again on puzzles: there were very few that relied on some sort of deduction. In particular, operating the alien machinery was often extremely easy - too easy. Almost without fail, any alien machine could be operated by pulling some external switch to switch on power/release a lock/clear a track, then climbing on board and pressing a single button. This was the same regardless of the machine - a mine car, an ore driller, a hover shuttle. These machines knew exactly what to do without having any co-ordinates programmed into them or controls set.

- The story was quite short. There are large areas in the various worlds that are visible but that you simply can't access. The scenery is nice (despite the graphic problems) but there is often a sense of frustration.
Posted by: dogpenny

Re: Skully's Review of Crystal Key - 04/09/04 03:15 AM

I was disappointed in CK2 I thought it to be a continuation of CK1 when I purchased it and it was not. It was not long enough and there weren't enough challenging puzzles. I hope if they are planning a 3rd episode it will be better than the 2nd one.