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The Crystal Key is a 1999 graphic adventure video game developed by Earthlight Productions and published by DreamCatcher Interactive. A work of science fiction, it casts the player as an interstellar explorer on a quest to save Earth from Ozgar, a malevolent alien conqueror. The player uses portals to traverse multiple planets, including desert and jungle worlds, while collecting items and solving puzzles. The Crystal Key was conceived by John and Jennifer Matheson in the mid-1990s, and it underwent a five-year creation process hampered by problems with its technology. It was signed by DreamCatcher as part of the publisher's strategic push into the adventure game genre.
The Crystal Key became a commercial hit and was DreamCatcher's best-selling game of 2000. It was a central piece in the effort by the publisher's parent, Cryo Interactive, to penetrate the North American market; the title proceeded to sell above 500,000 units in that region alone by 2004. The game received mixed-to-negative reviews from critics, who cited bugs and often unfavorably compared it to Myst. While certain reviewers praised The Crystal Key's visuals and gameplay, others panned them outright, along with the game itself. After a lengthy development period, Earthlight followed up The Crystal Key in 2004 with the sequel Crystal Key 2, a co-production with Kheops Studio in France.
Gameplay and plot
The Crystal Key is a graphic adventure game that takes place from a character's eye-view in a pre-rendered graphical environment. Using a point-and-click interface, the player navigates the game world, collects items and solves puzzles. Player movement is restricted to jumps between panoramic static screens, in a manner that has been compared to Myst. The camera view can be rotated 360° on each screen. The character's movement through the world is portrayed by animated cutscene transitions between jumps. At the bottom-left of the game screen, a "spacepack" inventory can be toggled to reveal the items carried by the player character. These objects may be used on things in the world to complete puzzles and progress through the game.
Video Review and Screenshots
The Crystal Key System Requirements
- Operating System: Microsoft Windows XP
- Processor: Pentium 133 MHz
- RAM: 32 MB
- Video Card: any
- Hard disk space: 70 MB