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Find the key to adventure

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Adventure gamers take note! This one’s for you. Explore different worlds, seek “answers” and save humankind from an eternity of slavery. Allan Glogauer goes on a quest to find the pieces of the Grand Key…

If I were a country and western singer who had been ditched by a mean-hearted personal computer, I might write a song that went a li’l like-a this (please feel free to add your own accent and sing along):

PC, you been treatin’ me unkindly

Gone ‘n locked me out with my secrets in yaw registrys

And muh personal stuff’s lyin’ all over yaw hard-drive

‘m beggin you – please just gimme the keys

Well, I may not be no country singer, but aah am a darn tootin’ fine adventure game player, yessirree. And finding keys and discovering secrets is generally what adventure games are all about.

The Crystal Key is just such an adventure, with a little slant on the keys angle – it’s your job to find all the pieces of one grand key. In the process, you evade a pretty ominous bad guy and his foot soldiers, and save your planet and its people from destruction and eternal slavery.

Think you’re up to it? Then let’s hold The Crystal Key to the light of the Gadget Four Question User test, and check its quality.

1. Is it ready to use?
The set-up file is on the first of the Key’s two CDs, and double-clicking it puts the 115 MB game files and other bits and pieces on your hard-drive.

2. Is it easy to use?
The game offers a short introduction from its title screen. The Evil (and he looks it) Ozgar and co. have shown up in their space craft and caused havoc on your planet, so it`s time for you to get into your own craft to go and jolly well sort them out.

You also have to gather the pieces of the crystal key of the title. As you do so, the key allows access to a number of different “”worlds””. The worlds, quite different from one another, offer visual variety and maintain interest.

Some of the puzzles are pretty tricky, while the initial ones are easy enough to let you explore a little and get you intrigued. The final one, in which you get to fry the bad guy, though an imaginative peril for the dastardly creature, takes quite some figuring out and – er – executing.

3. Does it work as advertised?
It certainly does. Navigation is easy, as is managing your inventory. And the game is exciting and its puzzles interesting. Three points, though. Yes, I appreciate the hard work that goes into developing atmospheric background music – but sometimes, after a while, the music is intrusive and you can`t turn it off. Also, while moving from one place to another, the animated graphics are great, but at some locations, the static and panoramic pictures don`t match that quality. Finally, to continue playing after saving a game, you have to restore the game you`ve just saved. An annoying waste of time.

4. Is it value for money?
The Crystal Key’s Web page says that it offers exciting, non-violent game play, beautifully rendered graphics and an imaginative story. All this is true, and the game’s pros outweigh my niggling concerns

The game is surprisingly lengthy for its two CD’s, and should keep the average player busy for a while. That makes its price of $19.99, from http://www.dreamcatchergames.com, a fair one.

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