north americaeurope
  in brief
crystal key 2
  adventure company / dreamcatcher
the good: a unique and vibrant look. entertaining puzzles. never impossibly difficult. great value.
the bad: a little more length would have been appreciated. no look function. a few graphical issues.
we say:
in depth

The original 'Crystal Key' was a wholly entertaining (and pretty popular) adventure game, and the sequel gives no indication of being any different. This time around you play as Call, the son of the protagonist in the original game. On his home planet of Evany things have taken a pretty ominous turn for the worse. His fellow citizens have slowly succumbed to a mysterious affliction - although still living they've stopped doing anything. Almost like a living death. Call is the only person to escape the condition, and he's desperate for answers. He stumbles across a portal, and his first clues to what's truly going on. At this point, the player's dropped into the game, and it's time to bravely point-and-click your way into the great unknown.

The game engine operates a little differently from most games of the adventure genre. For starters, the game is played through the first person perspective. In any given screen, you can look around in a 360-degree view. When you first start the game, it can be little unsettling to get the hang of things - but it quickly becomes second nature. Movement is handled by clicking on a hotspot, and the player transitions to the new location, complete with full movement. This is often important to keep in mind, as key puzzles aren't located solely in your forward view. The entire first person perspective approach does an excellent job of integrating the player deeper into the game. There's a good amount of places to visit throughout the game, which translates into plenty of screens to explore - which keeps things interesting. As you'd expect, there's a lot of backtracking and the like involved. In an effort to avoid monotony it's possible to skip from location to location rather painlessly. Inevitably however, you'll find yourself slogging back through a series of tunnels you've been down before.

The 'Crystal Key 2' is a adventure game of moderate difficulty. For veterans of the genre, it should take around 15 hours to see through. For newcomers however, the 'Crystal Key 2' can pose quite a challenge. Many of its clues are very subtle, while other puzzles require an excellent memory as well as some inventiveness. Aside from memory recall, many of the puzzles are inventory oriented. Luckily, the game usually provides a logical answer to every challenge - you won't be reduced to trying every item in your inventory on every hotspot in the game. Or at least not more than once. In a frustrating decision, the game doesn't include a look function, so you can't examine strange objects to get insightful clues. In general, it's important to pay attention to the (linear) conversations for hints on what to do next. Many of the puzzles can be delightfully difficult without being essentially impossible. One of the most enjoyable aspects of 'Crstyal Key 2' is the feeling of accomplishment when you solve a particularly troublesome puzzle.

Although 'Crystal Key 2' hints at an epic backstory, little of it is revealed as the game progresses. In general, the thrust of the game is concerned with Call's immediate situation, and little else. It's a shame, as there's elements of widely rich plotline lurking behind the surfaces of 'Crystal Key 2'. What we do get are tantalizing hints about the broader story and a somewhat truncated closing sequence. The point of the game remains firmly rooted in its own immediacy - the puzzles and challenges - not its narrative.

The world design and vibrant scenery are top notch. There's some very original locales scattered throughout the game, and it's apparent that a lot of effort has gone into their creation. By and large, these areas are gorgeous to look at. Strangely however, several times the graphics appear fuzzy and washed out, and not nearly as impressive as elsewhere in the game. In areas such as these, the resolution seems to be lower in places, and the result is disappointing. We're at a loss to explain how such a beautifully drawn game can suffer from such quality issues in places.

For the most part however, the visuals are very well done. In between many locations, the player is treated to a FMV cutscene as a transitory device. Without exception, these are professionally done - they bring the unique feel of 'Crystal Key 2' to life. Without exception, the video clips are impressive and add to the game's atmosphere. More importantly, these sequences integrate seamlessly into the game, without any noticeable pauses or disjointing transitions.

Characters are crisply and ably modeled, and animated with a minimum of motion. Although there's no word specific lip-synching, enough of an effort has been made to get by with a minimum of discomfort. Considering most players will opt to read the text instead of waiting out the dialogue, it's not really a big concern.

The audio throughout the game maintains a gentle presence. The music is excellent, and creates a quiet ambience throughout the entirety of the game. Sound effects are well sampled and reproduced faithfully. The speech, as with most adventure games, can go either way. The main character is probably the most capably voiced, while the rest vary quite considerably.

The game provides an immersive experience, and it's plenty of fun to wander through the world of 'Crystal Key 2' and try your hand at some of the trickier puzzles. Gaming veterans and newcomers alike will no doubt enjoy the 'Crystal Key 2', and consider it an enjoyable addition to the adventure genre.


reviewed by dragonsworn staff
  in closing
another gratifying offering from DreamCatcher. A good looking game with plenty of entertaining puzzles, Crystal Key 2 is a good choice for fans of adventure gaming.