Crystal Key 2


Genre:   Adventure

Developer:   Earthlight, Kheops Studios

Publisher:    The Adventure Company

Released:  2003

PC Requirements:   Windows 98/ME/2000/XP, Pentium III 800 or equivalent, 64MB RAM,16X CD-ROM, 32MB DirectX compatible 3D video card, Direct sound compatible sound card, Keyboard, Mouse

Walkthrough  Walkthrough





by Becky

The once vibrant world of Evany is dying, and a man named Call is one of the few inhabitants who can do something about it. In Crystal Key 2 (CK2), you play the role of Call as he sets out on a quest to save his world.

Call uses a star portal to travel to a nearby planet. The characters he meets there are the survivors of a previous war. Here he finds isolated environments that have returned to pre-war pastoral sumptuousness, plus indications that the evil principalities and powers overtaking his world are starting to infiltrate other worlds as well. Can Call puzzle out the secret of this deadly threat?

Crystal Key 2 does not linger in dark, austere places the way the original Crystal Key did. In fact the newer game is often flooded with light and color. You will see verdant gardens bright with flowers, fruit and vines. There are imaginative dwelling places everywhere, full of character and originality. There are also once-magnificent iron structures, now rusted, broken and collapsing. The spaceport is huge; parts are still flooded from the devastation of war.

Graphics in the exterior locations (particularly the backgrounds) can be hazy. It’s as though our hero is slightly nearsighted the moment he steps out-of-doors. This doesn’t mean the locations aren’t beautiful, mysterious places – they are. It’s just too bad that you can’t see everything as clearly as you’d like. Cutscenes (and there are a lot of them) vary in quality. A few are spectacular.

There is more storytelling going on here than in the average first person adventure. You will interact with several characters and a few creatures. Dialogues are not lengthy – I often wished they had gone on longer. Everything said in dialogue exchanges is weighted with significance.

I enjoyed getting to know Call, who is as polite as he is brave. He obviously has not attended the official School for Adventurers, as he is embarrassed to haggle about the price of inventory items, and even insists on asking for permission before taking things. Dr. Jakar was also a memorable character, though more for his surroundings than for his actual assistance with the quest. Perhaps if there is a Crystal Key 3, he will give us a tour of his fascinating retro techno loft.

CK2 is a mouse-driven game. Movement is node based with 360 degree panning. There is a pleasant soft fade between nodes as you move. I experienced no disorientation while moving; movement was extremely smooth. Most of the puzzles are inventory based, and the inventory is easy to use. Voice acting is good. The music is often abstract, merging with the tone pattern of a wind chime or the low rumble of machinery (my favorite music was the techno smooth jazz in the bar). The game installed and ran superbly with only one minor graphical glitch, which went away when I turned the hardware acceleration down a notch.

For the first part of the game I found myself thinking: “Wow, the designers have done it! They’ve managed to get all the elements right!”

As you solve CK2’s challenges, you spend a lot of time moving between various locations. This is fun at first, because the conveyances are interesting and amusing. Once you’ve tired of riding your jetpack or trapeze chair, etc. to the next spot you can skip the animations by hitting the space bar. About a third of the way into the game though, it starts to become tedious moving from place to place, even with the space bar accelerator. The game stops cuing you as to where you ought to go. The pace winds down to a near halt and the game becomes an exercise in interminable searching.

Actions in one location cause changes in another location, but the only way to find these changes is to traipse around hoping to stumble upon something. Sometimes inventory items aren’t hot until you hit a trigger later in the game. Characters that should be able to explain about a new discovery are strangely mute or stuck in a loop where they reiterate previous dialogue. You comb the locations for any sign of change – an inventory item that wasn’t retrievable before, a bit of dialogue that you couldn’t access before, a creature that, unaccountably, has decided to drop by and have a look at you. Finally you happen across a hotspot/inventory item combination that works. Then the scouring process starts all over again.

The searching IS rewarded by three beautiful, clever, particularly satisfying puzzles. These redeem the game and make the effort worthwhile, but I confess that it still felt like a long slog. I played CK2 twice for the purposes of this review, and I enjoyed it more the second time because I wasn’t confused and frustrated for a good portion of the game.

If you have played and enjoyed the original Crystal Key, you will probably enjoy the sequel If you are a fan of first person Myst-style games, this game will give you a pleasant journey in that mode (especially if you don’t mind consulting a walkthrough).

Quick List for Crystal Key 2

First person perspective, mouse control, 360 degree panning. Occasional character interaction through conversations. Unlimited saves. You cannot die. The game has one dead end (be sure to save before going down manholes). No mazes, no sliding tile puzzles, one sound puzzle. Most of the challenges are inventory based. The game was very stable. You do not need to play the original Crystal Key game in order to enjoy Crystal Key 2.

Aimed at gamers who enjoy exploring a compelling fantasy/science fiction universe while caught up in a mythic quest.

Final Grade: B

design copyright © 2004 GameBoomers Group

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