Review by THayes
Sierra's seventh and best Hi-Res adventure
Made in 1982 for the Apple II, The Dark Crystal was the seventh Hi-Res adventure made by On-Line Systems (later known as Sierra Entertainment). Released shortly after the film, the game takes place in the land of Thra, where a young Gelfling named Jen must fulfill a prophecy by returning a shard to the dark crystal. The whole story is a lot easier to understand if you have seen the film, but even if you haven't seen it, the game is still definitely worth playing, as it does a very good job in explaining a lot of the plot.
Many of the characters from the film are here, such as Gelfings Jen, Kira, characters Aughra and Fizzgig, as well as some of the Skeksis and Mystics. There is a huge range of other characters and all are portrayed well, with much the same personalities and appearances as in the film. Having so many characters definitely makes the world of The Dark Crystal feel more alive. When compared with a game like Cranston Manor (one of Sierra's early Hi-Res adventures) which has no talking characters, the two games couldn't feel more different. Cranston Manor feels lonely and desolate when compared with the constant characters and lively atmosphere of The Dark Crystal.
Some of Sierra's earlier Hi-Res adventures are notoriously difficult to complete, with the strict two-word parser making some puzzles much more difficult than they should be. In contrast, the Dark Crystal seems to be aimed at a younger audience as the puzzles are much easier, the parser is more forgiving, and there are less locations to explore.
Perhaps to make up for the short length and easy difficulty, and great deal of detail has been put into all of the locations. Dark Crystal has some of the best illustrations and descriptions of any of the Hi-Res adventures. In only two years since Mystery House, locations have gone from badly drawn monochrome pictures to detailed colour images. Viewers of the film will recognise many of the locations, such as the valley, Aughra's observatory and the castle. There are many locations that don't even have to be visited, and fortunately these have the same high quality illustrations as the more important areas.
It's not just the characters and well drawn locations that make the game interesting however, as there is a constant feeling of danger from the more evil characters in the game. They are constantly chasing Jen throughout the game and it does make things more interesting trying to guess when they are going to appear next, while also trying to concentrate on getting through the adventure as well.
Overall, The Dark Crystal is one of Sierra's best Hi-Res adventures. It's not the longest adventure, but the detail and care that has been taken on the locations and characters makes a pleasant interactive fiction adventure.
Rating: 3.5 - Good
Product Release: The Dark Crystal (US, 01/01/82)
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