The Four Crystals of Trazere review by Al Giovetti
By Al Giovetti
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The Four Crystals of Trazere
Very rarely does a new product emerget that adds a new wrinkle to gameplay. Four Crystals, a European import, does so with magic-oriented puzzles based on constructing spells and sequentially using different spells on floor tile acivators to unlock doors, build bridges and unblock passageways.
The traditional slay the evil wizard plot is set in Trazere, a land of enchantment populated by the mentally and physically twisted, mutilated, and by an old, "strange, powerful, and ghastly entity." Four adventurers - a berserker, a Troubadour, an Assassin and a Runemaster - have taken on the task of saving the land from the evil entity, called the Lord of Chaos. Each has a power related to his character class: Berserker Rage, Magical Melodies, Hide in Shadows, and Spellcasting.
Roll 'm up!
Male or female characters are rancomly assigned attributes for attack, defense, strength, intelligence, speed, dexterity, constitution and hit points. Armor classs and luck are determined by the magical power and physical strength of protective armor and by the use of prayer and holy icons to produce luck. As the characters accumulate experience from fighting monsters, they can pay an ever-increasing fee to progress to the next level of proficiency in their craft at the Guild Hall.
The party starts just north of the fortified city of Treihadwyl, in the middle of Trazere. The overland map provides a total picture of the land. YOu journey across it by clicking on the castles, towns and other locations.
Within the castles and cities are found the apothecaries, blacksmiths, holy temples, artificers, and taverns of the land. Each sells specific items, such as reagents or runes. Monster-fighting occurs when you overtake a banner of the travelling evil armies. The banner icon determines an army's strength.
Puzzles in ye dungeons
Dungeons are arranged linearly, from the cellars in Treihadwyl Guild to the dark tower and the evil city. Most fighting occurs in dungeons, which are another source of clues, treasure, and puzzles. Puzzles are word-ased, object-oriented and magic-oriented.
Experience is the reward for solving puzzles and for damaging enemies in combat. Experience and cash can be traded for profession levels at the Guild. When you go up a level, all attributes except armor class can increase.
Magic-oriented puzzles, as mentioned earlier, are based upon the construction of spells from four "director" runes and twelve "effector" runes. Runes and reagents are used to mix spells. The manual explains the spell-mixing process poorly, which may cause you to make many errors as you try to use the appropriate rune with the appropriate reagent(s) in the mixing circle. Clicking on the rune will turn the rune at the bottom of the screen from red to gold; at this point the next rune and reagent combination can be made up.
Once your rune-reagent combinations are made up, all must be mixed by clicking on the mix icon. Never mix until all rune-reagent combinations are made up, for this is the source of the confusion wth the non-intuitive spell creation system.
The four spell director runes of forward (in front of caster), surround (the eight squares around the caster), missile and continuous (spell activates every four seconds until you leave the area), tell the spell where to do the spell. The twelve effector runes tell the spell what to do: damage, heal, dispel magic, and parlyze at a target, protect from magic and so on.
Combinations of spells include missile-dispel-paralyze, which will send a dispel magic and a paralyze target at the same time at a target, misssile-surround-continuous-disrupt-disrupt, which will surround a targetted individual with a continuous double disrupt (great harm) spells.
A spellcaster can memorize up to ten premixed spell types. The magic system is both complex and versitile, and is one of the most unique and innovative features of the game. This is how a magic system should work.
Combat is in real-time, with all the characters on automatic. The adventuring interface is an overhead-oblique, diamond-shaped, oblique perspective that resembles Populous and Powermonger. Surrounding the play area are "plinths," platform -shaped icons, that provide for the activation of certain functions.
You control one character at a time by selecting his plinth with the mouse. The plinth shows his/her luck by the color of a pile of skulls, and the level of damage by the color and number of skulls missing. Click on the skulls, and a numerical value for hit points is displayed in the communication lines at the bottom. Other icons govern combat, feeling and automapping.
Clicking on a character's backpack reveals his 16-item inventory. Items don't disappear when dropped in the dungeons. You can return to retureve dropped items, except those dropped in banner combat, at any time.
Six basic actions are activated by icons in a row at the bottom of the screen or by hot-key, while adventuring: push, take, look, open, shut and special abilities. An infinite number of save games can also be named, and you can play and save from floppy or hard disk.
Graphics and AnimationGraphics look 8-bit, and the music and sound effects are nothing great. Characters are fully animated, highly detailed and quite fluid of motion. The animation looks well above 8-frame, smooth and fluid. Backgrounds are colorful and highly detailed.
Sound EffectsPops and squeels
UtilitiesThe save games are infinite and can be named so you can find them again. The manual is confusing.
ConclusionsIf this game has a deficiency it is in the lack of hints. Combined with a confusing manual, unusual magic system, real-time combat, and the spell-oriented puzzles, this makes the game more difficult than it appears. Four Crystals of Trazere is a quality import of a first-rate product, not at all what most of us have come to expect from European games. It is just different enough to be innovative, but not so off-the-wall as to be foriegn to the American market.
Cheats, Hints, WalkthroughTIPS
LEFT CORNER ------ "KILIJAN"
RIGHT CORNER ---- "ZENDITES"
RIDDLE 1 ----- "TETRAHAGAEL"
RIDDLE 2 ------ "SKALET RHA"
RIDDLE 3 ---------- "MYSTIC"
ReferencesAl Giovetti, The Four Chrystals of Trazere, Blue Notes, volume 11, number 11, November, 1992, pg. 10. Al Giovetti, The Four Crystals of Trazere, QuestBusters, volume 10, number 1, January, 1993, pg. 6, 9. Amiga World, September, 1992, page 79.
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