The Red Crystal: The Seven Secrets of Life
Why is it that more than any other genre, rpgs positively scream: Bugger the manual: just swing that broadsword. Having experienced serious withdrawal symptoms whilst suppressing these aggressive urges since Christmas, and weaning myself off the rpg treadmill, nightmare visions of regression loomed ominously when offered qqps latest mosh! Yet more evidence that Gary Gygax is the root cause of acute insomnia throughout small groups of our generation. Yep! random dice-rolling for character stats and more barbarians, thieves and sorcerers than you can wave a stick at. All searching frantically for red crystals and the seven secrets of life.
Bish bash bosh
This is one game where knowing the value of one broadsword in your hand and a few more strategically hidden on your person is vital. So much so it actually becomes one of the major failings of the game in that interaction with other non-player characters is just not on the cards. Your choices of action when meeting another being are restricted to either bribing or fighting. The former is simply a case of selecting from five pre-set amounts ofzetos to offer the counterpart. (A nice change from credits or gold I guess).
A rather poorly-produced and confusing manual claims that the combat system is unique because of the necessity to select the height of opponents. Not even remotely true methinks; in fact, the only unique part is the overhead bash move, the results of which are flashed up on the status bar: You hit for X points.
Magic is equally simplistic (apart from the necessity to learn/buy spells from mages) and the results in combat are only marginally more impressive. Your characters stamina improves with each level progression, and these level progressions are gained - need I say this -by smiting just about everything that doesnt stand still. The games main feature is the two-player mode, and as such the screen has been split in two leaving a very small arena in which to do battle. Strangely this does not alter in one-player mode in which the second half of the screen is left displaying a small-scale area map. The appearance of your hero depends on your selection at character generation, and the characters are nicely animated and move smoothly whether using the keyboard or mouse.
The sectional view employed when in battle is fine but, with eight different directions in which you can face, lining up attacks can be annoying. The unrelenting stream of assailants really begins to stress you out after a while, not because of difficulty, but due to the fact that no matter how many times you clear a level, when you return there will be more to fight. Okay, you might have missed a few in your haste, or some may be flitting from one floor to another, but every time you pass through, a new batch of opponents appears, looking spookily like the ones you killed ten minutes ago. Even the most ardent combatants would get bored with this.
Anyone for tennis
This game, I am assured, has the capability of catering for two players either by modem or sitting side-by-side on the same pc - one using the keyboard and the other the mouse. With this in mind, and a six pack in my fridge, myself and A. N. Other sat down to play. Unfortunately, our enthusiasm was short-lived. Our first discovery was that when moving around on the main map the sword icons representing your characters moved erratically; whichever player pressed the cursor key or left mouse button first gained control of the processor, therefore he who was not so nimble-fingered would be left stranded and moving painstakingly slowly.
Having traversed the keyboard six times, I could not locate the correct key for giving either player access to the small-scale map mentioned earlier. Suggestions please qqp. But what really got my goat was that, in the event of either player popping their clogs, the game ended - no closing sequence or gloating text about failing your quest. Not even a better luck next time message. My pc crashed and required a hard boot before signs of life returned.
Not content with my appraisal so far it was round to a friends ninja 486 to ensure it was not just a compatibility problem with my machine. It wasnt - we had the same results. This game was beginning to put out some really bad karma.
Mapped out or stressed out
The auto-mapping facility works well as long as you stay on the same level in the castles, but if you go up or down and then return, your map disappears. You either need to spend a red crystal (purchased from the mages in town) which automatically remaps the level, or wander around again. There seemed no purpose to this except to infuriate players and drain them of zetos.
When on the main map you can choose to enter the castles or a nearby town. All the towns can be bought and tax revenue received from them; and the interactions with other inhabitants can lead you off on a quest, but again you will become totally fed up with the same bounty hunters, druids and merchants stopping you and saying the same things. Weapons and equipment can be bought from merchants and healing can be done at the temples.
Is it worth a bigger overdraft?
Even though at no point in the one-player game did it crash, and as yet I have not seen the results of modem play, in my opinion even dated or budget rpgs can offer more of just about everything. The game does have some nice knobs and bells - like the range of portraits for your character and the idea of two players together side by side slogging it out with the same foes - but on the down side the manual is poorly planned out, the limited scope of fight or bribe is positively prehistoric, and the repetition reaches new depths of well... repetitiveness. Numerous bugs aside, the execution doesnt bear a mention, simply because it doesnt deserve one.
Download The Red Crystal: The Seven Secrets of Life
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP