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Review by: Bob Mandel
Published: January 14, 2000
Often when playing 3D adventure titles, you end up trying to discern a central underlying thread that allows you to progress successfully to the end of the story. With puzzle offerings in particular, you look for the key that unlocks each challenge and puts everything in the right place. But usually the kind of key you are looking for is an abstract pattern, not a tangible item of the type you hang on a key chain.
src=”images/cryskey7a.jpg” width=125 height=94 border=1 alt=”The Crystal Key Screenshot” hspace=”10″>
In The Crystal Key, a new adventure release from DreamCatcher Interactive, the central link among all the puzzles is a stunning blue crystal key you assemble as you progress. In other words, you not only must find the key, which you accomplish early on, but must also add extra pieces to it as you go along to make it fully functional for all the enigmas you need to unlock. Having a game box with a key hole on the front is your first hint that wherever you end up exploring, you had better be on the lookout for items you may physically unlock and for metallic objects that might be pieces of your key. The Toronto-based Earthlight Productions has spent four years developing as its first recreational effort a distinctive title that, while not perfect, shows a lot of promise and artistic flair.
The story in The Crystal Key is both futuristic and fantastic, but not novel. Earth’s survival is, once again, threatened by an alien race. A radio telescope intercepts an interplanetary communication from another species, the Arkonians, warning of these aggressors. A few days later, a huge alien craft is spotted in the skies, ominously deploying powerful satellites around Earth. As a result, the tides, weather, and even tectonic plates begin to shift and cause widespread panic. You go out from a polar research station as a test pilot of a brand new “hypership” to investigate the distress signal from these people and to stop the space invaders. Naturally, the future of humanity depends entirely upon your success.
The Crystal Key differs from many games of this type in that you have an archenemy, Ozgar, the evil head of the alien race whom you are attempting to thwart. While you only see glimpses of him until the finale, he is a finely crafted villain who inspires accelerated fear as you get closer and closer to him. Although this offering is totally nonviolent, you may die if you make a wrong move by being shot by one of Ozgar’s minions. In the middle of the story, you are detected by his men, shot by a stun gun, and dragged off to his mothership. Ozgar’s malicious presence throughout adds excitement to the whole experience.
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