The Legend of Crystal Valley: Chapter 1 in Review – Where have I seen this before?

More and more adventure titles are starting to appear at the AppStore. Some are ports and some have been designed specifically for the iDevice. And though any is a welcome addition, not all live up to the high standards set by such great games as Broken Sword: Director’s Cut and Jules Verne’s Secrets Of The Mysterious Island. Today’s review title, The Legend of Crystal Valley, is a port of a PC game released in early 2009. It’s a reasonable effort to keep the die-hard fans entertained until the next major title, but probably not the game you’ve been waiting for.

The Legend of Crystal Valley follows the story of Eve who after receiving a confusing letter from her dear father embarks on a journey to find out the truth about her family. This journey takes her to a different and wondrous world filled with strange magical creatures and mysteries.

On the PC, The Legend of Crystal Valley started out as a classic 3-d person point-and-click adventure. On the way to the iDevice, however, it lost that model and turned into a 1st person game. Most of the game is centered around “fetching” puzzles. The developers tried to explain this by introducing the “rules” of the magical world in which Eve ends up. According to them – no-one can do anything for free around there, rather you must do something for them first. As you can guess, Crystal Valley is full of errands and pixel hunting – Ho hum.

Another thing the game lost on its way to the iDevice is inventory manipulation. Instead items combine automatically once you pick up the right combination, sometimes leading to confusion. Yeah, and you can also forget about item descriptions. Once you pick them up the only thing you’ll see is its name.

Unfortunately, interface design got the same brush-off. To interact with the world you have a strange series of buttons on the right and your finger. You have to pixel hunt (drag your finger around the screen) in the hopes of hitting an active spot which then will then light up. Sounds familiar? Like say Broken Sword: Director’s Cut? Forget it. In The Legend of Crystal Valley, you have to hit the hot-spot dead-on and the game doesn’t even register some hot-spots until you zoom in at just the right spot.

The game was ported from a 2009 PC game, so at least the graphics and audio part should be fine, right? Sigh, unfortunately not. While the backgrounds do look decent, characters and cutscenes are horrible. At least the ambient music is okay, but there there’s no voice dubbing.

The only upside of the game is its length. While the story is obviously based on quite a number of adventure game classics such as The Longest Journey, it just doesn’t add up. It’s spread over 4 parts totaling about 8 hours of gameplay, but the game world isn’t immersive. The other 3 chapters are unlockable through in-app purchases costing an additional $0.99 each.

The Legend of Crystal Valley: Chapter 1 is an example of how NOT to make an iPhone game. It was a poor game to start with and became much worse when it tapped into the iDevice. The developer was simply looking for a quick extra buck for the work they’ve already done for a minimum of effort. Newcomers to the adventure games should steer clear as it may instill the wrong impression genre. Die-hard fans may want to pick it up just to pass the time until a good release pops up.

With this I declare The Legend of Crystal Valley: Chapter 1 officially touched!

App Summary
Title: The Legend of Crystal Valley: Chapter 1 Developer: Sandlot Games
Reviewed Ver: 1.0.0 Min OS Req: 3.0
Price: $0.99 (+$2.97 for the rest of the chapters) App Size: 96.1 MB
  • Nice gameplay length
  • Poor interface with lots of pixelhunting
  • Horrible character models
  • No voice-overs even in cutscenes
  • Poor scripting
  • No inventory manipulation


Have an affinity for adventure games? Check out some of our reviews/articles here and the App Store’s best Adventure Game article for more great games.

A project manager in a major telecommunications supplier, an iPhone junkie and lately - a TMA editor. Love long walks on the beach and my wife, who is the most beautiful girl on the face of this planet. You can also follow me on twitter for all things iPhone and project management (and some personal stuff as well):

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