Thursday, September 29, 2011

Crystal Story (RPG)

Crystal Story by Emmanuel Salva Cruz is a well-made party-based RPG with a humorous story. The gameplay is relaxing, without the need to figure out serious tactics to beat particular bosses. In addition to that, it also comes with a grammar mistake or two, making it the perfect traditional RPG for players who would like to enjoy a little hack-and-slash.
He's not talking to a... oh just play and see.
The story is about a party of adventurers who have been hired to take a picture of a hero-wannabe capturing the Evil Big Bad. 'Taking pictures' in a fantasy game? One can tell immediately that this is not the usual straight-forward tale of epic adventure. In fact, the humor is part of the draw of the game. Too bad that the humor is only present during the story, which is told through cutscenes.
One of our heroes, with a strange dream.
The characters are well-designed, each with quirky, memorable personalities. They are fun to watch. Too bad that they only show their funny sides during cutscenes - they are all straight-faced serious during battles.
Baddies in the dungeon.
As in traditional RPGs, the player explores dungeons and beat up the local inhabitants. The dungeons can be the Evil Cave, which is the setting for the main quest or a random dungeon where the player is free to explore or ignore.
It's a boss. Nothing to worry about.
Battles are straight-forward as expected of a traditional RPG. Each character or baddie makes a move when it is his/her/its turn. The move may be an attack, a heal, a buff or debuff. Skills use MP and attack subtracts HP from the opposition. Play continues until one side runs out of HP.
Three possible classes.
In the area of character development, each character has three classes available to him or her from the traditional four roles: FIghter, Rogue, Healer and Mage. As such, each character may chose to focus on one class or distribute APs among two or three classes. Improvement in a class will make new skills available for the character to use in battle. APs are obtained by leveling up and completing side quests.

An interesting thing to note is that though a class is available to three of the characters, there are slight variations to the skills that each character learns by improving himself/herself in that particular class. This would lead to different tactics available during combat. And also different battle FX, for those who enjoy eye-candy.
Things to do in town.
Back in town there are other mostly-non-violent things for the player to do. There is the link to the main dungeon, the Evil Cave, to get straight back into the violence. There is the Menu to manage the characters and inventory.

There is also the Tavern for other things for the party to do. There are side quests with side stories there and a bounty board for bosses found in the main dungeon. There is also an unlockable match-3 game for a little relaxation between dungeon runs. And there is the pet slime. Which can be fed with food. Which will give goodies in return.

There is the ubiquitous Inn to restore the party's HP and MP. And finally there is the Shop where equipment may be bought, sold and upgraded. Consumables may also be traded there.

Once the story is done, the dungeon may still be explored further for more baddies and loot. The dungeon is not bottomless, though. Allegedly, there is an optional boss waiting at the end.

In summary, Crystal Story is a well-made turn-based RPG with a humorous story. It is recommended for those who enjoy traditional RPGs. It is also a good challenge for nitpickers who like to hunt for grammar mistakes.

More screenshots:
Phoebe not using ALL CAPS? Play the game to understand it's significance.
Blowing the opposition away.
Equipment may be upgraded. Orange ones are really rare.
I stand beside sweet loot.
Phoebe's character sheet.
Yes, the weird-looking innkeeper can reset AP so players can try another class.
The party menu.
For spoiler screenshots of the game, look here.

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