Crystal Saga – A Third Party Review
Technical Details, and Gameplay Elements (without commentary)
A “Third Party” review is a review from someone who has nothing to do with the makers of the game. I am not one of the makers of the game, I do not work for them, and they are not compensating me to make this review. Everything I say below comes from my experiences from the game.
Crystal Saga is a free Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMO RPG) made by Reality Squared Games (R2 Games). It is played through your browser (Such as Firefox, Chome, Safari, etc.). At the time of this writing, it is in a “working beta” stage of development. “Working beta” is a term that game designers use when they are done making the game, but want to leave themselves a window to make changes in case something horrible happens, or so they can add bonus content later on.
Crystal Saga takes places in a fantasy setting. Your character is some kind of spirit creature (humanoid, but not human). You go through a sprit-world doing quests and slaying creatures. Your character can be one of 5 classes: Warrior, Rogue, Ranger, Priest, and Mage. Of these 5 classes, you can choose the gender of your character, and 1 of 5 different hairstyles/colors.
Your character first arrives in the world, having been reincarnated from it. You go around talking to people, and doing the standard “kill X monsters” or the “collect Y items” quests that you would expect from these kinds of games. Occasionally you will play tag with Non-Player Characters (NPCs) and walk back and forth between them, helping them talk to each other. Eventually, you learn that there are some dangerous foes out there in the world.
As you progress through the world, you will gain experience, and eventually levels. As you level up, you will gain attribute points, and skill points. Attribute points are used to improve your base stats: strength, agility, intelligence, and endurance. Strength improves your non-magic damage (and slightly raises your health), agility improves your luck, dodge, and critical hit rates, intelligence improves your magic damage and healing ability (if you are a priest), and endurance raises your health.
Skill points are used to learn skills. You get 1 skill point every 2 levels. Spend them wisely, as it takes a LONG time to level up as time goes on. Once you learn a skill, it becomes a Level 1 Skill. By spending an additional skill point, you can make the skill be a Level 2 Skill. Level 2 Skills cost a little more mana (energy used when using skills), and are a little better than the Level 1 Skills. The max level for a skill is Level 5.
Once you reach level 10, you will be able to tame pets. Pets are creatures (or sometimes humans) that follow you around, and will attack your enemies with you. Pets can be any of the 5 classes (Warrior, Rogue, Ranger, Priest, and Mage), and will learn unique skills of their own. Pets learn skills randomly. They can learn a skill when they level up (but not at set levels), and the skills they learn are semi-random. A ranger pet will learn unique ranger-esque skills, but which specific ones are random, and vary from pet to pet (even the exact same kind of pet will not always learn the same skills). Pets are loyal to you… unless they die. Every time a pet falls from battle, it loses 5 loyalty. If your pet’s loyalty drops from 100 to 0, it won’t fight for you anymore. Pets also have a limited life span. Granted, it will be a long time before they die of old age, but it will eventually happen (Unless you spend real money to prevent this).
At level 15, you can get your first mount. Mounts are creatures that you can ride (like horses, or… turtles). They will speed up travel time while roaming the map, and the more advanced ones will be able to fight with you. However, most of the good mounts require you to pay real money to get.
Eventually, you will get wings. Wings provide some fighting advantages, but is mostly for show. Later on (if you spend money) the wings can be quite impressive, but in the end, they are really just a status symbol.
There is no crafting (making magical items) in Crystal Saga, but you can enchant and socket equipment. Both of these will improve the bonuses you receive from equipping specific pieces of equipment. You can buy the items needed to enchant or socket using real money, but some items you can use to enchant or socktet you can get from slaying bosses.
This game provides a way to fight against other players (PvP). There are 5 modes to be in for PvP. Peace, Justice, Evil, Party, and Guild. While in Peace mode, you cannot attack other players (but beware! They can attack you!). Justice mode will allow you to fight anyone with a red name. In evil mode, you can kill anyone, but the more you kill, the longer you name stays red. In party mode, you can fight anyone not in your current party. In Guild mode, you can fight anyone not in your guild. You can attack (or be attacked) when you are not in a town. Only players level 20 and up can attack (or be attacked).
It should be noted that while some of the things that you can get from spending real money, can be gotten through luck. Every day you can get a token to play a roulette type game. In this game, you have a 1/6-ish. chance of getting a decently rare item. But most items, and most of the ones worth getting, can only be gotten from spending real money.
Those are all the technical details about the game. If you wish to know my opinions of the game… read on.
This game is… I not going to lie… pretty bad. It’s not that the game is poorly executed, it’s just… lazy. There is no reason to play this game. It’s almost as if they were trying to waste their own time making this game.
In an MMO, the most important thing is interacting with other players. That… and solely that… is what separates an MMO from a regular RPG. It’s not the questing, the grinding, or how stylish the world is. All of that can be overlooked if you can easily talk to, and adventure with other people. This game just… fails at this. Its chat interface is awful. Just, so ridiculously poorly thought out that it makes me sad. I’m a “glass is half full” kind of person, but they aren’t even trying! The chat pane takes up a good 6th of the screen, and cannot be made smaller, or go away. You can listen to 1 of 5 channels at a time: Local, whisper, party, guild, and global. You better hope no one tries to get your attention by whispering to you, because unless you are specifically listening for that, you won’t hear it. Think about it. If you are trying to find an adventuring party, you might be talking in the local channel to find a group. If someone whispers to you, saying they want you to join them, you won’t hear it. By looking for a group to play with, it prevents you from finding a group to play with! Not to mention the countless server wide announcements that you are constantly bombarded with. Anything that you might be interested in, is pushed off-screen by random announcements, like if someone gets a rare pet (which happens every 2 minutes-ish) or just stuff that doesn’t affect you in any way. The system forces you to just zone it all out so you can play the game… which really defeats the purpose of an MMO.
So then, let’s talk about the other things that make an MMO RPG an MMO RPG: the questing, the grinding, and your character. Your character is a joke. It tries to pull off “helpful, willing, eager, excited, dutiful, bored, overly tasked, and unwilling”. It doesn’t succeed. It’s just not possible. The character is un-relatable, and is clearly just saying whatever it needs to in order for the current quest to make sense. Character creation is a joke. You have 5 classes, 2 genders, and 5 different hair colors. Everyone looks so similar… it’s ridiculous! When you look at your character when equipping… equipment… the character on that screen looks nothing like the character you created. Between the lack of personality, and the fact that everyone looks the same… it really hampers your ability to suspend your disbelief (which you really need to be able to do to get into a fantasy game).
The quests are so ridiculously unimaginative, it’s… sad. Overall, this game is sad! You can tell some people worked fairly hard at it, but their work is wasted by the other slackers who worked on it. But I digress. Quests. There are 4 kinds of quests. Kill X creatures. Kill creatures, and collect X items that they drop. Collect X items. Talk to generic NPC. They don’t even give you good reasons for slaying monsters. Monsters under level 30 don’t attack you unless you attack them first. And some of the quests involve you just you murdering people. Not evil people… not rebels... Just murdering people. What?! The story in the game is… non-existent. Your character goes around doing asinine quests, for no reason, and for no character development. Yes, I know it’s an MMO RPG, but come on! You have to at least pretend there’s more to it than that!
And the grinding…. It’s pretty bad. Before level 30, you can’t do most of the daily quests that give you free XP, and you are forced to grind out levels here and there (even if you do all the quests available to you). After level 30, you require so much experience to level, you really must grind in order to level up at a decent rate. Now, grinding doesn’t have to be bad, but the battle mechanics are pretty boring.
Oh, the combat! You don’t have access to a lot of skills because skills points are so rare, and the battle animations are… lackluster to say the least. Occasionally you’ll get a circle around you. Occasionally you’ll see something flying out from your general direction… It’s boring. It’s just plain, flat out, dull as a potato. The only thing that makes combat interesting is fighting other players…
In PvP, there are 5 modes to be in (Peace, Justice, Evil, Party, and Guild). You’ll want to be in evil, party, or guild mode at all times. Peace mode means you can’t defend yourself if someone attacks you. Justice mode means you can’t defend yourself if someone attacks you. Justice mode means you can only kill people with red names. How “red” your name is depends on how many people you kill per hour. So, if the person attacking you hasn’t killed a lot in the past hour, chances are you can’t attack them back. So… what’s the point of justice mode? I mean… Really? That’s poor planning. Not poor execution, it’s simply not thinking things through. Kind of like the major problem with equipment.
Every piece of equipment has a level requirement. Most pieces of similar equipment (like gloves) look extremely similar. Whenever you pick up a piece of equipment, you need to check its stats to see if it’s better than what you currently have. If you meet the level requirement to equip the new weapon, the game makes it easy to compare the item to what you currently have. However, you’ll be likely to pick up an item that you can’t use for several levels. So, you have to compare the stats of one item in your inventory, with another item in your inventory, and the game doesn’t provide a good way to deal with that. In the end, you should just make a spreadsheet with the stats of your current equipment, and the next set of equipment you have stored up, and compare every new piece of equipment you get to that spreadsheet. But really, who wants to do that kind of recordkeeping?
Besides that equipment spreadsheet you’ll need, you’ll also need to do a LOT of math. Not all skills are good. Some skills are decoys meant to sound good, but really only exist to waste your skill points. I kid you not, if you do the math, you’ll find some skills cost more mana to deal LESS damage. Sometimes this can be a good thing. Sometimes you want a skill to deal massive damage at once, whereas if you had spread out the damage, you could have dome more damage overall. That would be fine. But no. They trick you by confusing how much damage the attack deals. The one that really riled me up was the Double Shot skill for the ranger. It shoots 2 arrows at once. It deals 58% coefficient, + X damage. What does 58% coefficient mean? I’ll tell you.
Double Shot Damage = (Normal bow damage * 2 * .58) + X
Double Shot Damage = (Normal bow damage * 1.16) + X
Double Shot Damage = (slightly more than Normal Bow Damage, + X)
This is clearly a lot less than the other damaging ranger skills, for slightly more MP.
And then there’s durability. Oh yeah, durability. If you have ever played Fire Emblem, you’re no stranger to the fact that equipment wears out. Without proper maintenance, your weapons and equipment’s effectiveness will drop down to 0. How fast it wears down is a mystery to me. Sometimes the durability remains constant all day. Other times, the durability drops from max to 0 in just a few hours. Constantly having to check is ridiculously annoying.
Plus, the durability (lifespan) of your pets is horrible. Granted, they take a long time to die of old age, but this means that they are guaranteed to die. What if after having a pet for 30 levels, the pet learns a great skill? You are guaranteed to lose it. Sure, you’ll probably replace the pet with a better one later on, but eventually, you can’t level up fast enough to get a better pet before your older one dies. It just makes you feel like pets are expendable, and why bother? They don’t deal much damage anyway (compared to you), so the skills they get really make-or-break them. If you ever do get a pet that learns a useful skill (which is highly random), you don’t want to give up that pet. To force them to die seems… unfair. Of course, they won’t die if you spend real money on the game… but for a free game, this crosses the line for me.
And my final complaint is the micromanaging. Spending attribute points, spending skill points, spending attribute points on multiple pets, checking pet skills, constantly checking equipment stats… durability... No. I’m done. Especially now since it’ll take 20 days to reach the next level… No. No.... No. Just!… no.
I can’t end this without saying at least one nice thing about the game. The pets and mounts look very nice. They put a lot of time and effort into their models, and they look very nice. Of course the nice ones cost real money, and are kind of ridiculously unbalanced, but they’re kind of awesome.
Overall, this game is terrible. I’m sorry if you worked on this and are reading this review, but you’re being terribly mismanaged. This game is poorly planned, doesn’t think things through, and has no focus, goals, or heart.
I give this game a 2/10.
Stay away, stay very far away…