Quick Review for Secret of the Magic Crystals

I’m reasonably sure that most of the people reading this have never even heard of the Indie game Secret of the Magic Crystals.  I hadn’t until a few days ago when I was killing time watching the Yogscast on Youtube.  With my dad still being in the hospital thanks to complications from having a kidney removed, I haven’t had the desire to play any of my larger, more complicated games.  But with this casual game being only $5 on Steam, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try.  However, it doesn’t exactly lend itself to a full-blown review.

What is it?  Don’t let the name fool you.  The “magic crystals” in the title are just a very flimsy plot device.  Something about a meteor & crystals affecting horses.  Pay no attention to the plot.  At it’s core, Secret of the Magic Crystals is a horse simulator.  The entire gameplay revolves around breeding, raising, training & working a variety of mythical horses.  Once you’ve purchased or bred your colt to an adult horse (which only takes about a minute), you can train them in a variety of attributes, such as strength or speed.  Training is in the rhythm game tradition, where you have to hit the appropriate arrow key.  After you’ve trained your horse, you get to send them on a variety of quests or compete in races for money.  This money is mostly spent to upgrade the various buildings on your farm, but can also be used to buy recipes for potions & horseshoes (which permanently increase your horse’s stats) or to buy new horses.  I assume that the crystals the game is about are found during the highest-level quests.  There’s a Steam achievement for finishing the game, so I doubt it’s just an endless quest.

Pros?  The visuals are surprisingly detailed for an Indie game.  There are five different breeds of horses (unicorn, pegasus, fire steed, ice steed & demon steed), with each breed distinctive & beautiful in their own right — although it does bother me a little that the pegasus has wings on its ankles & not on its back.  There’s also bit of strategy involved when sending horses on quests.  The weather changes frequently — every few minutes or so — & sending your horse out in the rain or snow can result in them getting sick, which costs money to treat.  Three weather patterns are displayed at all times: the current plus two upcoming.  Because quests take different amounts of time, you have to plan things out.  It’s also rewarding the increase the size of your stable with your preferred breeds.

Cons?  The game is repetitive, tedious, & at times boring.  Whenever you start with a new horse, you first have to train it.  Afterwards, you send it on quests to earn more money.  Eventually you can breed it with another horse to make a higher level colt.  But that’s the extent of what you can do.  Horses cannot increase in level.  So a Lvl 1 horse will always be at Lvl 1.  To get a higher level, you must breed two horses of the same level.  In other words, two Lvl 1 horses produce a Level 2 horse, & so on.  However, you can’t breed them more than once, so that means after you breed them you have to sell the horses to buy two new horses & start the process all over again.  You can’t breed a horse until it’s completely trained, so you have to repeat the same cycle continuously.  Let me show what I mean: Say you want a Level 4 horse.  To get one…

Lvl 1 + Lvl 1 = Lvl 2

                                 +        = Lvl 3

Lvl 1 + Lvl 1 = Lvl 2

                                                  +         = Lvl 4

Lvl 1 + Lvl 1 = Lvl 2

                                +         = Lvl 3

Lvl 1 + Lvl 1 = Lvl 2

That’s fifteen horses you have to train to get one Lvl 4 horse.  It can become very tedious.  This isn’t helped by the fact that training is the only part of the game you’re actively involved in… & it’s not even that good!  The line between getting a Perfect or Good score is very hard to figure out, & although it gets more complicated at higher levels, it’s not exciting.  The music, which is the exact same loop during the entire game, doesn’t fit with any rhythm, so you end up just staring at the side of the screen waiting for the next arrow.  The quests & races are completely passive.  You just send the horse off & it comes back a short time later with your money.  The races are even worse, with the events consisting of random pieces of text that last for far too long.  I’m also a bit disappointed you can’t crossbreed.  Sure, you can breed a pegasus & fire steed, but it won’t give you a flaming pegasus.  Instead, the game randomly picks which breed it will be.

I suppose for $5, Secret of the Magic Crystals isn’t that bad a game.  There is a sort of mindless zen appeal to it.  It’s just not that much fun.  It reminds me of Facebook games like Farmville.  However, I think even fans of those game will probably find the gameplay options limited.  If you don’t like those kinds of casual games, avoid this one.  But if you think you’re interested, the price is good, I just recommend having Youtube playing in the background.

– GamerDame

Title: Secret of the Magic Crystals
Console: PC
Rating: E
Developer: Artware Games
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4 Comments

Filed under Indie, PC, Reviews, Simulation

4 responses to “Quick Review for Secret of the Magic Crystals

  1. hannahbanana

    lol @ the mindless zen appeal
    totally agree

  2. Pingback: Secret of the Magic Crystals dev diary

  3. Pingback: All | Secret of the Magic Crystals dev diary

  4. Retromation

    I think this is a pretty darn accurate review. If anyone wants to see my first impressions I have made a video. The game is definitely one of a kind, I’ll give it that.

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