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    Crystals of Time

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    genkicoll

    Posts : 7461
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    Age : 43
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    Crystals of Time

    Post by genkicoll on Sun Dec 01, 2013 3:49 pm

    Crystals of Time
    by RVL Games - December, 2013

    Available at:
    Big Fish
    GameHouse
    iWin



    When professional thief Ashley Ford's father, the man who taught her all she knows, suddenly disappears one night while trying to sneak into the enigmatic Three Oak Mansion, she is determined to find him. It is up to you to help her!

    As the game begins, you find yourself in front of this huge, deserted house of secrets. In your possession is a mysterious crystal that grants you the ability to travel in time. This power will aid you in finding the clues you need to guide Ashley to discover the whereabouts of her missing father and ultimately solve the mystery of the Three Oaks Mansion.

    Features:

    • More than 80 fantastic hand drawn scenes
    • 24 minigames and hidden-object scenes
    • Classic game play mechanics
    • Atmospheric soundtrack

    Click images to enlarge
    __


    Last edited by genkicoll on Thu Mar 13, 2014 9:46 am; edited 20 times in total


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    JustTheFacts

    Posts : 5071
    Join date : 2013-09-01
    Age : 54
    Location : Western Australia

    Re: Crystals of Time

    Post by JustTheFacts on Tue Dec 03, 2013 1:18 pm

    Maybe... But Then Again, No
     

      

    BASED ON DEMO

    FIRST IMPRESSIONS
    The most interesting thing about the intro is that there isn’t one. You go straight from the developer’s flash page to the main menu. So, low budget game. That’s okay. The main menu page is a bit more interesting. It has ghost-like images of the key players, with their bios, so faint and so quickly cycled that you only get an impression of what’s to come. That’s intriguing.

    SIGHTS & SOUNDS
    In the locations of the game, the graphics are very so-so, and ‘dated’ – the pseudo-realistic style. I don’t like that style but I don’t think it should automatically rule out a game from further consideration. In this case, where the game shines is in the HOP scenes, where the graphics are so clear and clean you can almost feel the textures.

    Being low budget, there is no voiceover, but not much dialogue at all either. In fact, the game is light on interaction no matter its form. The music is upbeat modern electronic, some interesting voices in it, and there is one sound I loved, the sound made when you make a wrong selection. If there were ambient sounds, I missed them.

    WHAT’S HAPPENING
    You are a thief, like your father before you. But, you know, a good thief . Right. Okay, we’ll forget occupation for the moment, but I’m sure it brings with it many talents we can make good use of. Other than that, it is your standard “find missing dad, search spooky mansion” story. Throw in a little time travel, and yep, you got a winner amongst typical HOPA fans.

    PROGRESSING
    This is primarily an adventure game, I think, it’s hard to tell because I did not get very far into it. There are some list (not interactive)  HOPs, with limited animation and despite their clarity and light, are not very interesting. There are puzzles as well, not too difficult, but there are some good reasons for recommending waiting for a walkthrough. Because the adventure gameplay is not obvious and the help you can get is not necessarily helpful.

    The hint system is one I would normally applaud, shows you where you need to go. But it doesn’t transport you, and there’s a good chance it’s somewhere you haven’t been yet. The teleport map, on the other hand, is not interactive, but will take you to a teleport site within a group of locations. I think there are only half a dozen of these, and many more rooms than that.

    All of this would be by-the-by if not for the unusual placing of exits in the locations. I spent forever looking for a fuse box in a room I couldn’t find before I finally did. This is where I started losing interest in this game. It became too slow. And when I found myself again stuck because I didn’t have what I needed to open the door hint told me to, I just couldn’t go on.

    There were other annoyances too. There were a noticeable number of spelling mistakes. The cursor would not change to the exit one until it was over the inventory bar. It was almost impossible to leave some of the close up boxes because there was no x, and the cursor once again didn’t change. Speaking of cursors, the darn thing is so finicky you can’t tell whether one of your desperate choices for inventory item is rejected because it is wrong or because it isn’t properly placed. All these and no walkthrough? I think not.

    FINAL COMMENT
    It was suggested in the forums that this isn’t a game for those of us who have gone ‘soft’, playing games that do too much hand holding. Probably an accurate assessment, so hard core players, don’t rule this one out! As for us softies, I don’t think it’s going to be high on anyone’s xmas list.

    I Don't Recommend This Game!


    Last edited by JustTheFacts on Thu Jan 23, 2014 2:24 pm; edited 1 time in total

    JustTheFacts

    Posts : 5071
    Join date : 2013-09-01
    Age : 54
    Location : Western Australia

    Re: Crystals of Time

    Post by JustTheFacts on Tue Dec 03, 2013 2:07 pm

    Cool. Thank you! Did you trial it? The devs were in the bfg forum. It seems that there are a lot of people who disagree with me on this one.OH! 

    genkicoll

    Posts : 7461
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    Age : 43
    Location : Pacific Northwest

    Re: Crystals of Time

    Post by genkicoll on Tue Dec 03, 2013 3:40 pm

    Huh!  I'll go have a look!  Maybe I'll try this game soon -- I need a new game to play, anyway~


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    Sportygal2009

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    Join date : 2013-09-03

    Re: Crystals of Time

    Post by Sportygal2009 on Tue Dec 03, 2013 5:58 pm

    Deleted


    Last edited by Sportygal2009 on Sun Jan 26, 2014 10:16 am; edited 1 time in total

    JustTheFacts

    Posts : 5071
    Join date : 2013-09-01
    Age : 54
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    Re: Crystals of Time

    Post by JustTheFacts on Wed Dec 04, 2013 9:40 am

    We've done it again - people are going to think we plan it! You know, the whole me vs. you in terms of games we like.

    I just can't get over how we always do this! Two thumbs up

    genkicoll

    Posts : 7461
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    Re: Crystals of Time

    Post by genkicoll on Wed Dec 04, 2013 11:55 am

    I hope to try this one in the next day or two.  I'm thinking I'll like it, as I like to have to *think* when I play these games... most of the time.  I don't want things so challenging that they become work, but thinking is good! Laugh


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    Sable

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    Re: Crystals of Time

    Post by Sable on Thu Dec 05, 2013 9:46 am

    I so admire those who can play these games in the hardest mode.  Unfortunately, I'm such a softie that I need both hands held!  Makes it difficult to play, but I've adjusted, lol. 

    Will definitely wait for a w/t, thanks for all the reviews.

    JustTheFacts

    Posts : 5071
    Join date : 2013-09-01
    Age : 54
    Location : Western Australia

    Re: Crystals of Time

    Post by JustTheFacts on Thu Dec 05, 2013 10:08 am

    Yes, I don't mind a little cuddle now and then, too, just to give me encouragement! Luckily I have 5 willing volunteers, especially when I'm typing a review!Hug Big smile

    Sportygal2009

    Posts : 165
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    Re: Crystals of Time

    Post by Sportygal2009 on Thu Dec 05, 2013 11:01 am

    Deleted


    Last edited by Sportygal2009 on Sun Jan 26, 2014 10:16 am; edited 1 time in total

    JustTheFacts

    Posts : 5071
    Join date : 2013-09-01
    Age : 54
    Location : Western Australia

    Re: Crystals of Time

    Post by JustTheFacts on Thu Dec 05, 2013 12:05 pm

    I agree with that one oh yeah! Worst thing I can do when trialling a game I intend to write a review for is read what others say, makes it so much harder to remain objective. I learnt that the hard way early on.

    The voices I heard, I assume that was what they were, were the kind of humming/chanting you get in background vocals at choir. I think. I play so many games and write so many reviews that sometimes I will get one game muddled with another. If I have any minutes left on the demo, I usually use that verifying what I've said by starting the trial up under another profile.

    genkicoll

    Posts : 7461
    Join date : 2011-12-29
    Age : 43
    Location : Pacific Northwest

    Re: Crystals of Time

    Post by genkicoll on Sun Jan 12, 2014 8:57 pm

    Crystals of Time (IHOG)

    It's not often that you enter a game with the words, "I am a thief." Huh?  The only other game I can think of that does that is Vault Cracker.  It would explain why our main character is good at breaking in to things, at least! Snicker


    The options are very basic, with separate sliders for music and sound, plus a windowed option.  There are two modes of play -- Normal and Hard -- and this can't be changed once you start the game.  I went with Hard mode, as I don't like sparklies.  The tutorial is not optional, even in hard mode Yeah right

    On the main game page we have facts about the various characters in the game, but we can't scroll through at our own pace, and they don't leave the text up long enough to read in one pass! >_<  The cutscenes, on the other hand, need to be clicked through, so you can read at your leisure.

    There is a problem with the profiles, where every time you enter the game, it reverts you back to the first profile made.  In other words, it doesn't come back to whomever played last, as most games do.

    The are some localization and spelling errors that make it obvious that the developers are not native English speakers, and after a bit of research, I see that they're based out of Romania.  These kinds of errors can really ruin a game for me in a hurry, but I wanted to give the game a chance.  On the plus side, there were only two mislabeled items in the hidden object scenes: "sac" (instead of "sack") and "enveloppe".

    Our JOURNAL tracks our objectives on the left-hand side, and the story/important information on the right.

    We have a MAP in the form of an easily-accessible compass.  Once we have visited a location, it becomes available as a jump-to location.  It does NOT show you your current location, but if you mouse-over a location, a bubble will pop up with a picture and description of what the site is. ie. Back yard.  But wait... it's not ALL locations that we can jump to, just the basics.  For instance, we can jump to the front door of the house, but not to any of the specific locations inside the house. Sweat drop  In all, there are four places we can jump to on our first map, and three on the second map.

    The HOS are non-interactive (just lists) with the items disappearing from your list once you've found them.  There is NO rapid-misclick penalty, even in hard mode (something I appreciate.)  I amused myself by seeing how many items I could find before looking at the list Snicker  Just a note that the game can be a bit picky about where you click. The devs really should have put a small "aura" on their items for the "sloppy clickers."  There is one scene where you cannot "find" the briefcase unless you click in *exactly* the right spot, but that was the only item I found that I had any frustration with.  You will visit each HOS multiple times.

    The mini-games are skippable, and if you need to reset the puzzle(s) or get instructions, there are buttons for those on the right-hand side of the screen... Not that there are very many of them.  Oftentimes I was doing an action that I was sure would result in a mini-game, only to find that the game completely skipped over the part where we would have had to do one. *shrugs*

    The HINT refills at different rates depending on which mode of play you've chosen, and using it during the adventure portion of the game will show you a picture of an active site.  This discharges your hint.

    Navigation is poorly done, in my opinion -- not very intuitive.  Good thing we have our trusty map... except that we have to FIND the locations before we can use the jump-to option... Meh.  It's really not so bad, but it does make things a little confusing!

    Pop-up / zoom-in areas stay open after you've finished with them, and you'll have to back out... and you can go back to that zoom-in at any time, if you wish (makes you think that you must've missed something, though... )

    Dealing with pop-ups (or zoom-ins, if you prefer) is a bit cumbersome, as well.  Clicking on the background will not close the pop-ups -- you have to manually back out with the directional arrow.

    Now here's something different about the game:  We have a blue crystal (part of the story,) which we use as our hint button.  Every now and then the crystal will turn purple.  When it changes color, we can affect time itself, returning to the past.  You can stay in the past for as long as you wish, but you will not be able to leave the location until you come back into present time.

    Sometimes the devs have us skipping small actions that would have things make more sense.  For instance,
    Spoiler:
    when we use metal wire clippers on live wires without gloves on OH!
    or when we
    Spoiler:
    do the old "there's a key in the other side of the keyhole" trick where we put something like some paper or a rug under the door, then poke the key through so that it will fall on that item... except that just putting something under the door works -- no need to poke it through Huh?  By the way, said key automatically enters the lock -- no need to turn the key.

    Along the same vein, when we need to use an item multiple times on a scene, we have to take it out of our inventory each time, instead of it staying in our hands (so to speak) until we're finished with it.

    There is a strong adventure element to the game, with a lot of exploring and finding items in the scenes (not just in HOS.)  That's something I really like. 
    Things to watch for (almost like collectibles) during the adventure portion:
    Spoiler:


    • Piano keys
    • Gears
    • Pieces of paper
    • Trophies

    We have a lot of freedom of movement, making things a little less structured and linear, but not so much that we're saying to ourselves... Overreaction  Gah!  In other words, still intuitive enough that it's not overwhelming or confusing.  Still, there isn't a lot of interaction via black-bar tips, so I can see how the game might be more difficult for those who haven't played a lot of these games.

    The music is tone-setting, nice but not irritating, and there are no voice overs.

    The graphics are very nice -- as the description says, more than 80 hand-painted scenes -- but except for the HOS, all of the graphics are static.  No movement of fog, no changes in lighting, no wisps of making the leaves flutter... Things we're so very used to seeing in our games nowadays that it seems odd to be without them.

    We start out with heavy adventure, then it's HO, HO, HO, I don't mean the Santa Claus kind.  Santa Stuck  Suddenly we're running around revisiting scenes all over the place, just to see if a HO scene has popped up!  This happens at least twice, completely unbalancing the gameplay.

    It's a shame that the devs couldn't have done a more broad beta... or maybe just with more thorough testers  Rolling Eyes   There are so many things they devs could have done to make the game more user-friendly and polished.  Besides my gripes above, I think the time-change element was vastly underused.  I would have rather had fewer locations with more time warps, personally.  As it is, you can only do the time change in two rooms.

    Despite the clunky interface, I think that the gameplay is generally interesting... Except that the story is really generic and not gripping at all.  To top it all off, the ending of the game was very abrupt.  Combine all the elements of this game -- the good and the bad -- and what you have is an OK game that could have been really good.  In the end I'd rate Crystals of Time easily forgettable.


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