Currently playing: Nox Archaist

October 7, 2011

Crystal Dragon - Perspective

Crystal Dragon is one of few games that tried to repeat the success that Dungeon Master from Interplay set on this genre in 1988. It is very similar in concept but it has nothing that is unique which haven´t been seen before.

Black Crypt from 1992, offers better high-resolution extra half-brite graphics (64 colors at once on Amiga) with more animations and better sound. I would say that Black Crypt is better. I did complete it but don´t remember much about it.

Eye of the Beholder 1 and 2 from SSI, released for Amiga in 1991 and 1992 respectively has both better and colorful graphics and story. The game mechanics is also based on AD&D which means you have much more variety in character development.

I haven´t tried out Dungeon Master II that was released for Amiga in 1995. Perhaps I might return to visit it just to compare it to Crystal Dragon later on.

So it sounds the competition for Crystal Dragon is quite tough, right ? Despite that Crystal Dragon does have its merits. It is well made, fast and with no bugs discovered so far. Sure the environement and graphics might be a bit dull since the color scheme is repeating itself all over, but it was just the same with Black Crypt. I would say that Crystal Dragon is without a double the hardest of them all because of the many, many hidden buttons, illusion walls and traps the game has. Some people like the challenge.

Combat, Characteristics and magic
Combat in Crystal Dragon is in realtime. Your dexterity determines both your hit chance and how fast you recover for another attack. Strength determines how much damage can be done. There is no way to know how much a particular weapon does in damage. But then again, there are very few weapons lying around.  Strength is also said to be important for how much you can carry. I don´t know in which way yet since items does not have any weight. Possible it is the amount of available inventory slots.

Intelligence is important to be able to inscribe and learn spells. The higher the more. Your spellbooks in the four elements only have room for a limited amount so it is wise to only scribe the really useful ones. This hint was conveyed in a walkthrough for the game. Wisdom is important for priests but I don´t really know why since intelligence governs spells and they are the same regardless of you being a cleric or a wizard. It is however used in order to successfully identify items. It seems your level is more important to determine how much damage you do with a fireball and not your intelligence.

Food and water is very hard to get by. Right now I am almost starving to death out of thirst and haven´t found a well for a long time. When you run out of water or food your hitpoints is fast declining so it is not a slow process. You will probably die within a few  minutes real time. Since there are so many hidden buttons and illusionary walls you have to spend a lot of time looking for them, running out of food meanwhile. And while I do reload when I find a secret entreance I´ve looked for the last few minutes, it is still not enough.

The magic system works quite ok. You shift between the four elements in your spellbook. You have spells like shield that increases your armour class or party shield which is the same for the whole group (that is, your two members). True seeing lets you see illusionary walls, but only if you select the character as the active one (which took me awhile to figure out). Map and Compass are other helpful spells. Magic missile and fireball is the only offensive spells I´ve found so far. I don´t notice much difference in their damage, although fireball drains a lot more in mana.

You could arm yourselves with ranged weapons but I have not found it useful since you often have to shift for close combat and there is no shortcut to switch weapons and have double equipment sets.

NPC and items
There is no NPC interaction. I haven´t found a single important NPC yet. I do have problems to carry more items though. I found a very interesting skull of a famous magician. While used it brings up the automap but what I did not understand until later was that it also teleports you to a selected square on the map. That item alone saved me recently to get permanently stuck in an area. You see, it is not uncommon that walls or doors closes or shuts behind you at times with no turning back.


When you level up one or two characteristics randomly increases by one point (or it is based on the skill you uses most alternatively which class you belong to). If you are lucky you got two characteristic advances. You receive a fixed amount of spell- and hitpoints for every level increase. I don´t know if those are based on you constitution and/or class.

In the image below you can see that each character has a total of 6 bars from left to right.

The first one from the left indicates your food meter, the second one your water and the third you expericence bar until you reaches the next level. You can see that Ritenne (my cleric) has increased an level recently and soon it will be time for Rennard. The other three bars to the right side of the portrait indicates hitpoints, disease/poison level ? and spell points.

6 bars shows all status for each character

The next step...
If  I could only find some more food I will go on. The game is easily played and very enjoyable while you´re not stuck. I must say that my interest to try out Eye of the Beholder III or Dungeon Master II has increased after playing this game. Perhaps I will make a revisit to them when the time comes.


  1. Interesting comparison of the various Dungeon Master clones. I played Dark Crypt too and completed it. I remember being a bit disappointed by it after all the hype, and since the only thing I remember from it is the floating skull it obviously didn't make much of an impression on me. Eye of the Beholder OTOH I remember well. But by far the best and most difficult DM type of game was the expansion to DM - Chaos Strikes Back. That was my most intense computer gaming experience ever. I only played and completed it once, but I can still remember much of the dungeons 20+ years after. If you haven't played this master piece (it's like DM on steroids and then some) you have missed something special.

    I never played the Lands of Lore games (they are on my to play list, though, together with Crystal Dragon) but I think they were in the same style as DM, but with more diverse environs, including outdoors.

    I never tried DM 2. By the time it was released it was too little, too late. But I may give it a try some day.

  2. Dungeon Master was released one year before I got my first Amiga 500 so I missed to play it but I know it got a great reception and set new standards to this type of realtime RPG. I would like to test it just to see how much the competition has advanced over it....if it has that it. If Chaos Strikes Back is extremely difficult I think I will pass. It is enough to solve the constant button riddles in Crystal Dragon. I actually watched some footage on youtube of Dungeon master and apart from the interface being very simplistic the graphics in itself is not bad.

    I completed Lands of Lore earlier this year. It is quite good and moderately challenging.

  3. Hi, Currently im playing Crystal Dragon (yeah, back to the classic xD) and got stuck on level 15. Anybody knows where can i find garnet key or how to opean apothecary. Anyone has finished this game? I can really use some help.

    1. Hi, how did you defeat the sorceress Elitia on level 11 ? Regardless of how much damage I dealt her she always manages to regenerate back to full health.