Game Review: The Mystery of the Crystal Portal
Developer: Artogon Corp
Available Platforms: PS3, PSP, PSPgo minis, iPhone, iPad, PC
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
Do you have what it takes to solve the Mystery of the Crystal Portal? Join journalist Nicole Rankwist, on her brain accosting adventures to find her archaeologist father. He has gone missing after making a discovery that could “change the course of humanity”. Now it’s up to you to help Nicole search the four corners of the Earth for her father, and unlock the mysteries of the crystal portal. Hop along for a game that offers “innovative hidden object gameplay, an intriguing storyline, stunning full-screen graphics, and more”.
The Mystery of the Crystal Portal (TMotCP) is a puzzle game, that will test your power of observation and logical thinking skills. In TMotCP, you travel to 6 different locations around the world such as Japan, Russia, and Africa searching for your father. Each location has someone who is a friend of your father, and in need of some help of their own. By helping each person out, you are rewarded with a piece to the crystal portal mystery. Which will in turn get you one step closer to finding your father. The gameplay is set up as a point and click adventure. As you find the items that you are searching for, you hover the pointer over the item, click on it, then carry it to where it is needed.
To solve the mystery, you have to break out your “Where’s Waldo?” skills. Each location has a couple of pictured areas, in which you must search high and low for certain objects, that are hidden in, around, and behind other things in the picture. Each nicely detailed, pictured area will contain Key Objects, Normal Objects, and Puzzle Objects. You need to find the requested Normal Objects (keys, pots, pans, tools, just ordinary everyday items) to appease the Key Objects (usually something more animated like a fire or a coo-coo clock). When the Key Objects are satisfied they generally reveal a hidden object needed to advance the game. Also hidden throughout the pictured areas are Puzzle Objects. These are collected and used for the final puzzle in each location. For example, in Russia the Puzzle Objects are gears. When you get to the final puzzle, you need to arrange the gears (which are different sizes) so that the mechanism will activate and give you a nice reward. One other quick little tidbit, if for any reason you get stuck, and you probably will, there’s a nifty little “hint” button that you can press to help you find that hard-to-find object.
For just being a PSP minis game, TMotCP is pretty expansive and offers a cool story to follow. There are tons of search-and-find puzzles to keep you busy for awhile (it took me around 5 hours to finish). They are practically perfect in their difficulty too. They offer up just enough of a challenge to keep it fun, yet not so much that they make you pull your hair out in frustration. The locations were unique enough to help keep the puzzles from feeling repetitive. The people that you help out are pretty quirky and keep the story interesting. Plus this is a great game to play either by yourself or with friends and family. My wife and mother played along during one of the locations, and my 4 year old son even helped me out finding things that I couldn’t.
I really don’t have any major gripes about the game. I only have two minor things I would like to see improved upon for a sequel (oh yes, the story sets you up for one). First, the controls could be more responsive. Sometimes I had trouble lining my pointer up with the object that I needed. Second, I would have liked to have seen a better way to find your next Key Object. You either have to search around the picture with your pointer (it will turn into a pointing finger when you find it) or use the “hint” button. This sort of broke up the flow of the game for me. It would have been nice to have incorporated more story/dialogue interaction in helping to find these Key Objects.
Brian’s Final Say: Overall I was very impressed by The Mystery of the Crystal Portal. This was my first minis game and I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I definitely didn’t expect the deep and compelling game that it is. It offered me some great puzzles and it was all set to some nice imagery that was easy on the eyes. The whole mood of the game was very relaxing and it made for a nice change of pace from killing zombies and aliens and blowing crap up. It’s a nice game to play with your family or by yourself. So let me ask you this again, “Do you have what it takes to solve the Mystery of the Crystal Portal?”