Legend Of The Crystal Valley Demo

Hello, I am an adventure game.

There’s a demo about of a very trad point and click adventure, The Legend of Crystal Valley, from Croatian developers, Cateia Games. A woman called Eve receives a letter from her estranged, eccentric father, asking her to come to their family estate in France. When she gets there, he’s gone, and there seems to be a pathway to a place called the Crystal Valley.

It’s traditional in every imaginable way. 2D backgrounds with 3D characters, a central character who hoovers up every object she encounters, and a mixture of real world and fantasy confusion. The demo features a few opportunities to Use X On Y, and one reasonable puzzle. Perhaps it’s a rather damning indictment of the state of adventures that the most positive thing to say about what’s demonstrated here is that it isn’t awful. The writing’s fine, the acting isn’t hideous, and nothing particularly offensive appears. And frankly, that’s as good as it seems to get in the genre.

29 Comments

  1. Hyoscine says:

    Ouch. But yeah, what’s up with 99% of point and clicks sucking shockingly?

  2. Pantsman says:

    You should try Culpa Innata if you haven’t already, John. It’s quite novel, and actually does something interesting with the genre rather than just regurgitating the same old gameplay.

    I thought, anyway.

  3. hydra9 says:

    Culpa Innata was horrible. Well, in my opinion. I’m glad you enjoyed it. I thought the concept was good, but the execution made me want to… uninstall the game. Which I did.

    As for this, that screenshot and description are enough to put me off. Another female protagonist with red hair, blue jeans, (I’m guessing) a strong liking for poor sarcasm… Bleh.

  4. Pantsman says:

    @hydra9, you have to admit that at least it wasn’t the same old thing, eh?

  5. Lewis says:

    Might check this out. I could do with some reasonable adventuring after being forced to play through Fenimore Fillmore’s Revenge. Unfortunately, I’ll need to invest in a new set of ears first, after that game’s voice work made my previous pair fall off.

  6. Clovis says:

    Ya, I’ve been playing AGs for years (since King’s Quest), and Culpa Innata just didn’t work for me. Everything about the execution was just horrible. Maybe there was something novel there, but everything was slow, and the writing was so bad, and there was so much completely pointless banter.

    I was thinking yesterday that someone should create a “sandbox” adventure game. Isn’t there something better to do in a city than go around shooting everyone? Well, no. But still, and adventure game could be fun too. Maybe there could be real rewards for exploration…

    But I’ll gladly take a mediocre old-school AG.

  7. Helm says:

    I tried Culpa Innata because of recommendation in the Art of Murder 2 thread. It was bad enough a game opening that I deleted it in after 15 minutes. Nothing stand-out awful but a lot of genre staples that I can’t deal with anymore including the early ‘I need to find my passport/keycard/car keys puzzle… and pretty bad art also.

    I won’t even try this, it tells me a lot just from the header image. Somebody should write a Freudian analysis of why modern adventure game designers are so hung up on obviously inverted-self-insertion girl protagonists that go about the screen telling their dominator-controller “I can’t do that”, “it won’t budge”, “that’s stupid”, “who would thing of such a thing?”, “those two items don’t go together” every 10 seconds. It’s really fascinating. I think it started with The Longest Journey, whose main character April Ryan was badly written (sorry John Walker) but not nearly as much as what came after her.

  8. Pantsman says:

    @Helm, yeah, that initial puzzle doesn’t exactly speak well for the game. Unfortunate, since it quite picks up after that. The art gets a lot better after you get out of the academy, too, and I thought it was one of the game’s strong suits.

  9. gulag says:

    These things keep my girlfriend happy and out of my hair until bedtime, so thumbs-up from me.

  10. Premium User Badge

    John Walker says:

    Helm – there are claims you can make against TLJ, but arguing that April Ryan was badly written is one I don’t think you can win. That’s just silly.

  11. hydra9 says:

    I don’t think April Ryan was badly written. Just annoying.

  12. Pantsman says:

    @John, I myself found it a bit odd that she fell in love with a man with whom she’d spent all of fifteen minutes.

  13. The Poisoned Sponge says:

    @Pantsman Who are you thinking she falls in love with? Cortez? I’m not sure that’s quite true if so. And if not then I have no idea who you are talking about. TLJ was brilliantly written, but horrifically badly thought out puzzle wise. I stayed for the writing, but I could’ve easily ignored it for the writing.

  14. Helm says:

    I’ve read a lot of your work on the merits of TLJ. From my point of view, the writing is bad. Not ‘bad grammar’ bad. It was a lot of problems which while one by one could be forgivable when they occur all together it’s pretty tortuous. It was massively overwritten yet expects the player to be interested in the whole of it. It indulges in vicarious fantasy-fulfillment similar to a lot of standard fare fanfiction but tales itself deadly serious as it does so. It felt like it came from a ‘painless’ place of the writer, no real risks involved, yet it carried itself as profoundly incisive commentary. It is often said that writers should write what they know and I didn’t feel like Ragnar Tørnquist knew anything about the subject matter he tackled. The psychology of the main character was shallow therefore through that speculum anything the game attempted to convey felt intellectually dishonest. As an ‘adult fairytale’ the writing fails on being adult and isn’t well-structured enough to be an effective fairytale. The structure I don’t really mind since it’s a videogame and that always creates complications on the storytelling flow, but the adult pretension (and I use this word very sparingly) is unbearable for me.

    I don’t think the writer did a bad job on purpose, though. He just wanted to do something he didn’t have the skill for. I won’t say he lacked the vision.

    I’m sure you disagree to most counts. It would be a big discussion to hold, probably best not to because I’m sure you have more important things to do and also it would require a replay of TLJ for me (and notes-keeping) and I wouldn’t look forward to that. I reply in this detail in hope that you would agree on there being different tastes and expectations of a story and that I am not fundamentally silly for disagreeing with you.

  15. Igor Hardy says:

    I don’t see this LOCV game which is a first attempt in the adventure game genre of a small group of unknowns should represent that genre.

    I think the current trend setting commercial adventure games are the episodic ones like those from Telltale or the interestingly made Casebook series, as well as some of games produced regularly in Germany like Ceville, Book of The Unwritten Tales, Secret Files series, The Whispered World, Overclocked.

    If I would have to pick a style that really appealed to me personally, I must say I was very keen on seeing more of Insecticide. I really dig its well designed mix of action and adventure, great art, music and writing. Sadly, it looks like a longer series (or even a complete PC release of the first game) wasn’t meant to be.

  16. Pantsman says:

    @Poisoned Sponge: Yes, Cortez. And she seemed to say so at the end of the eleventh chapter, if I recall correctly.

  17. Rei Onryou says:

    I don’t think April falls in love with Cortez, but from what I remember, she’s the White Kin’s daughter, so may technically be related to Cortez. I think any love she felt would have been like that towards a family member. Of course, the whole thing is open to interpretation (and my crap memory).

  18. Matzerath says:

    Well, apparently The Longest Journey is good enough to spawn a long geeky argument about it on an otherwise unrelated thread, so that’s something … I guess.

  19. aufi says:

    i think TLJ offered some of the best writing i have seen in a game.

    some of it is cheap; some of it seems a little disparate. but it was very engaging in ways that i don’t really feel like going into here. the fact that the writing even undergoes such scrutiny not commonly placed upon game narratives proves, in my opinion, that it has breached some upper level. for it to have dived even further, more exposition would be needed which would no doubt prompt further derision for long-winded self indulgence.

  20. Mr Penalty says:

    That picture looks a lot like a game we (databox Games) made for about 2 years ago called “In Other Words”. The game is probably not the same, but when I saw that picture I first thought -“who have posted a picture of that game?”

    Here’s a picture of that game -“http://databoxgames.com/games/img/inotherwords/pic1.jpg” I hope you don’t see this as spam (I apologize if that”s the case. I just thought it was fun :)

  21. Jarl says:

    That’s some seriuos charcter design theft, a lawsuit is on the way. ^__^
    link to game.hgo.se

  22. Lord Skwizzal says:

    I miss the days back when broken Sword was an actual GOOD series.

    Oh BS.
    How I mourn thee’s demise.

  23. Markoff Chaney says:

    Heh. More discussion about other games than the one that’s posted. Oh how you’ve fallen, great adventure genre. One would almost think they have fallen into a place from whence they just can’t recover. The conventions we grew up with and know and love as and Adventure Gamer are still present and haven’t really been refined past when we dropped parsers for a clickable skill set.

    Culpa Innata wasn’t bad and at least it did try to innovate. Nothing against So Blonde and Ceville (2 of the newest adventure games) they are beautiful and work to keep engaging you with witty dialogue and sometimes humorously drawn characters, but they still just feel like more of the same. We go back to absolute masterpieces like TLJ and BS over and over because they hit every note so well. When just one thing is off though, it can really derail a project, even if we can’t quite put our finger on exactly what’s off.

    I think I miss the parsers. Something was nice about not really knowing what that blob I just walked up to was and trying to figure it out as part of the puzzle. Having everything turn into a pixel hunt seems to have taken a lot of the joy. I spent about a month figuring out I had to jump to get on that bird in KQ (I was NOT calling that hint line). If I could have moused over it, I would have been done in minutes.

    When all you have is hunt the pixel and combine the stuff, all that’s left to propel the story IS the story. This is where TLJ and BS really shine, still to this day. I’m glad the genre isn’t dead, but it certainly has stagnated. Then I see something like Pathologic and I still have hope, even if a lot of people wouldn’t consider it an Adventure game.

  24. El Producto says:

    I’d hit it.

  25. khorse says:

    The problem with TLJ and most of these games is the interaction/puzzles are never very good so you depend on the story to keep you playing. And the fact of the matter is that the best story in any of these games, which most people agree was TLJ, is still worse than just about any book you could blindly grab off a shelf at your local library.

  26. windlab says:

    I believe that Dreamfall was a vast improvement over the previous game, I believe it was certainly a lot more emotionally involving than TLJ, even if April did turn so impressively emo that I felt like yelling at her to snap out of it.

    I guess I should really use the forum instead of the comment thread if my posts are going to be off-topic.

  27. Igor Hardy says:

    Well, TLJ does certainly have a more epic story than most other adventure games, but it isn’t particularly good – it’s rather standard fantasy fare. More interesting adventure games are being released all the time.

  28. bonuswavepilot says:

    @Helm
    “The psychology of the main character was shallow therefore through that speculum anything the game attempted to convey felt intellectually dishonest.”

    That *speculum*? Is this a typo, or some kind of damn disturbing metaphor you’ve got going on there?

  29. Helm says:

    A speculum has an other primary meaning besides that of a tool for gynecologists.