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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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