The Crystal Key
By Dreamcatcher Interactive

This game came out this fall (2000) and is a first person puzzel game.

It starts off by telling you that a strange ship has entered your planet's orbit, sent out probes and then your planet's weather patterns change drasically. You are sent to find out what is going on and to help save your world. As always, the "recap" ends with the "Only you can save your world" line.

Okay, the control play for this is a little wonky. You do get used to the slow transitions of your desinations (yes, you can get used to anything). There is a 360 degree rotation and you can look up and down as well. The environments are detailed but the game doesn't really let you explore a ton. You are suppose to go somewhere and that's it.

Some of the puzzles are easy while others are difficult (which is expected) but some of the solutions of the puzzles are so "out there" that I wouldn't have thought of them without the hint webpages. I wish I didn't have to resort to the hint pages, but it was nessasary.

I enjoyed the environments/locations very much. They were detailed and very Myst-like. The sounds and music added to the game play and improved the feel of the game.

What got me the most was the "hotspots"; where you're suppose to click to move to another location whether it be near and go around the room or far away to another place entirely. Some of the hotspots were too big for the environment that you were in. For example, I wanted to look at a computer screen and the little hand appeared on the cursor as it should to go somewhere, so I clicked. Guess where I ended up? The door. I didn't want to go to the door, I wanted to go to the computer screen to see if there were any important information for me. Guess not.

There is also in the cabin on the first world where no matter if you are coming out of one of the little side rooms to click on the little table or the room across, the quicktime always takes you to the front door of the cabin. Now that's just irritating.

The transition of moving from one place to another is another thing that urked me. It seemed to look like real time; you walking to the new place with a surprising speed. But there was not a really good way of speeding it up - you click and even if you knew how to speed up the process, it took a long time and it seemed to jump. It wasn't a smooth change as I'm used to in Myst or Riven (I'll try not to compare the two brands of games, but it is hard).

The environments were a little dark for my tastes, though you do get used to that too - you also learn to follow your cursor more than your eyes (which I suppose is a downer for the game). These games are suppose to be based of being observant in everything whether it is visual or sound clues, not whether a little hand appears on your screen when you scroll over something.

This game gets mixed reviews because there are good things in it and then the game has it's problems; not all the bugs were worked out before it was released (which is a major "no no", but what ya gonna do?)

This game gets a three and half stars. I've seen one, two or four stars in different reviews but I feel that it should be right in the middle of it. There is a patch that you can download and several sites with reviews, pictures and hints for it.

Related Links
The Crystal Key - Download the patch, read reviews but lousy walkthrough
UHSweb:The Crystal Key Hints - Gives hints and then if you're really stuck, it'll spell it out for you.

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