After decades of searching, I have finally found you, my long lost love.... we'll never be apart again. Now let's go make beautiful music together, and play with each other all night long. Heh, heh, heh!
Finally! A game worthy for the ages on newgrounds! Crystal Story is a turn-based RPG that has it all... - well maybe it's missing a proper story, but that's all right! The rest makes up for it. This game has filled me with so much joy, it's even better than most of the console games I've played! Now I knowI'm late for the review party, it's an old game at this point, so most of you aren't going to care what I have to say about it. But this piece was so good that I just had to leave a mark.
The story takes place in an unnamed small town. A witch had recently stolen a crystal, and is now wanted felon. Hiro wants the fame of capturing her, but doesn't wish to get his hands dirty, so he enters the Mercenary Inc. building, and hires Tristam & his allies to do the deed instead. You play as Tristam in pursuit of the witch. This is honestly as clear as I can make the story out to be.
The game is a turn-based RPG. It's one of those games that you level up for defeating monsters. One of the great things about this is how flexible the level up system is. You have 4 characters to manage, and each of them have their own skill trees. But there's a lot of options you can take, and you can latterly level up your characters and design their moves the way you want to, which makes for great replay value. Despite many enemies being reused, it doesn't at all feel repetitive.... at least till post-game battles. But is excused because these monster will make sure you're on your toes. Other than weapons, you can equip anything to your character (head, body, accessories) which will have an impact on your stats but no visuals. Each equipment will be listed as rarity by colour...
White - Normal equipment, often has low stats.
Green - Greater equipment, provides fairly decent stats for the average dungeon adventurer.
Purple - Epic equipment, provides better than average stats for being the second-best tier.
Orange - Legendary equipment, rare to obtain and is very overpowered.
There's a gambling shop you can pay to generate any equipment & tier in the game at random.... which is greatly broken by players around character lvl 20 to 25ish after stalk-piling up enough gold. You can save your game, then gamble, and reload your save until you get the equipment that satisfies you. Makes me wonder why the creator even added it in the first place?
Now there's only 1 dungeon in this game, and though it is a little disappointing that we don't get to explore multiples, the one dungeon we get is quite large. You'll be spending at least 20 hours trying to explore the entire thing. Like I said before, there are 50 floors, but you only need to complete the first 30 to finish the game. Every 5 floors, a cutscene will play, and so-forth until the 30th floor is completed. If you manage to make it to the 50th floor then one more special cut-scene will be waiting for you. However, it's quite a bit of grinding, and only those who got hardcore into the game will likely attempt it.
When you're tired from battles, you can unwind at the tavern and play a small mini-game called Zombie Defence, which is basically a mini-tetris game. Match as many 3 colour blocks to ensure victory. Do it before any of the zombies reach your character on the right side or you lose. For each blocks of 3 you match of the same colour, you'll destroy a zombie. If no zombies are present then you'll attack the Zombie King, defeat them and you win. It's a really fun mini-game that I spent just hours on. There are 4 difficulty options to choose from: Easy, Normal, Hard, and Expert, though you won't have all of them available right away. All of them are perfect for each other in terms of challenge.
The game isn't without it's faults. You can read up in the author's comments that many bugs had to be patched, and there are still quite a few more bugs in this game that I discovered. Fortunately, the bugs aren't that game breaking so it isn't a big deal...
- You can't quit during Zombie Defense right before you're about to lose to speed up the process, or a bug will trigger where if you attempt to play Zombie Defense, it will constantly exit you out of the game. (fix by saving and then reload your game)
- Entering a battle scene while changing areas on the map (requires precise timing) causes your battle to have no enemies, and you automatically win.
The lowest point of the game has to be the story. It's weak-sauce! . From a plot with no twists or turns what-so-ever, to certain things not making sense such as taking a photograph in a world where electronics hasn't been invented yet. And that includes the character lore. In fact, the only lore you get is by checking the help menu and then scrolling to the left. It's an individual profile of all your party members, though not very detailed.
There is more that I wanted to say about this game, but unfortunately I can't think straight as I'm typing this entire review in a tired state. Crystal Story took me 6 days to complete, and that includes playing through to floor 50 to view the optional scene. It is bursting with content, and I enjoyed every minute of it. I was so close to giving this game a 10 out of 10! I wanted to so bad! But the story completely ruins it. So instead, I'm giving this game a 9 out of 10! Never has a game provoked such a positive reaction in all my reviews. Crystal Story is well-worth the playthrough if you're into old style RPG games.
Final Verdict: 9 out of 10
NG Rating: 4.5 Stars