Crystal Key II: The Far Realm Review
By Corey Stoneburner |
The original Crystal Key sold reasonably well. It found a niche audience of puzzle solvers who didn't mind zany puzzles and poor production values. In comes Crystal Key 2. It picks up right where the original left off. This sequel serves up another helping of crumby graphics and tepid puzzle solving.
Crystal Key II forces you to assume the role of Call, a naive wanderer who talks like he's auditioning to host the kiddy show Blue's Clues. Call's father saved the universe in the original Crystal Key, and now the role of galactic savior has fallen to you. The introduction provides a brief rundown on events from the first game and sets up the sequel.
You find out Call's dad vanquished Ozgar, an alien whose career goals included universal conquest and domination. Peace lasted for all of five minutes. A brand new menace plopped down on your home world of Evany and turned its lively denizens into brainless drones. The game starts with a mysterious woman coming through a portal right in front you. Before she has the chance to talk to you, two soldiers come through the portal and drag her back in.
How mysterious and exciting, no? Call finds a key and a journal dropped by the mysterious woman. Upon reading the journal, Call discovers that other worlds have been inflicted with the same disease as on Evany. Turns out some invisible race of aliens forcibly hypnotized half the galaxy. Call takes the key and opens the portal to chase down the soldiers. He lands on a desert with no map, no weapons, and worse, not a clue. And the interface doesn't help the gamer get any more oriented than Call.
Sadly, the story fails to gather any momentum. The urgency created in the first five minutes of the game dissipates as soon as you enter that first portal. The kidnapping witnessed earlier doesn't launch you into a galactic game of cat and mouse. Instead, you spend hours wandering around alien locales and talking to oddball characters you will care nothing about. The story feels pretty thin, and much of it comes through poorly written dialogue when talking to a few key characters, and not by anything you do directly.
You play through Crystal Key II as a floating camera. At least that's what it feels like. Anyone who has checked out the inside of a car or hotel lobby through QuickTime VR will feel right at home in this game. Unless you hate QuickTime VR, in which case Crystal Key II will probably make you puke. If spending 10 hours panning solving puzzles through a QuickTime plug-in sounds fun to you, then stop reading this review and buy this game now. Inventory shows up as a bar at the bottom of the screen, but only when you right click the mouse. In "inventory" mode, you can drag items into the middle of the screen to solve puzzles.