Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Crystals Are Boring

After a bit of tweaking, I managed to get Crystals of Arborea up and running. There was still one major bug in it, though - I couldn't save at all, which is an issue for an RPG. More on that later. First, though, this is one odd game. You play the role of an elf prince trying to find four crystals and restore them to their appropriate towers. There may be more to the story than that, but that's all that I saw. To help you in your quest, you have a party of six characters with you. It's always the same six people, but you can change their class from a choice of three - warrior, wizard, or ranger. You're plonked on a huge island map and you can tell any of your party members to go anywhere on the map - all except you, the prince. There are also monsters roaming the map, so you don't want to send your guys off on their own, but you are trying to cover as much of the map as possible to find the crystals and the towers. At the start of the game the map is blank, so you need to have a character move over an area of interest in order to discover what's there. That made it sound like there are highlighted areas that you need to check out, but that's not the case - you have to have your characters comb every inch of the map, and it gets frustrating very quickly. When you do find something, a crystal, say, only your prince can pick it up. The twist is that the prince can't be controlled on the map like the other characters, he is controlled in a flick-screen first person view (like Dungeon Master). So once you've located something, you then switch to the prince and spend ages trudging across the island checking the map every few seconds to make sure you're still heading in the right direction until you find the item you were looking for. Once you find the crystals, you also need to find the correct tower for each crystal. These towers are hidden on the map in exactly the same way as the crystals, so you still have to wander round for hours trying to find those. Also on the map you'll find houses with wise men in who'll give you treasure if you answer their questions correctly. I found one guy who said he'd show me the location of the final crystal, but it didn't seem to work, which was annoying. I did get a decent sword from one of the other guys I found, though. The other things you'll discover on the map are tunnels. These are straight forward dungeon crawl sections, but it's very hard to see where you're going or where you can turn, and in quite a few of them I just got hopelessly lost. I did try mapping one, but it seemed to go back on itself all the time, so I gave up. One of these tunnels led me to another island where I found a crystal, but none of the others did much at all. I did find a set of armour in one, but only a warrior could pick it up and I didn't have anyone with me at the time. I wondered around for a long time and managed to find 3 crystals and 2 towers, then the game crashed on me. As I mentioned, I couldn't save it and I'm not going to go back and do all that again, so I'm going to move on. It's touted as the first game in the Ishar series, but there's very little story or character to speak of, so I don't think I'm missing much by not finishing it. Onwards to Ishar proper.

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