After reviewing Treasure Seekers: Visions of Gold recently and then seeing screenshots of Mystery of the Crystal Portal 2, I fully expected to find more of exactly the same. I enjoyed Treasure Seekers (which received a healthy 3/5 stars), but there were niggling minor problems which stopped it from being truly great.
Artogon and G5 Entertainment have obviously learnt from Treasure Seekers and I’m delighted to say that many of my grievances have been rectified.
Mystery of the Crystal Portal 2 is, unsurprisingly, the sequel to Mystery of the Crystal Portal 1. This second iteration kicks off with the main character Nicole starting where the previous game finished. Along with her trusty servant Igor they go in search of her missing father. Their travels take them from New York City to distant lands and even underwater.
To make progress you must seek out craftily concealed objects amongst the highly detailed scenery. Somewhat typical of mystery object games, the objects you are asked to find usually have little, if indeed anything, to do with the main object you are trying to construct. Quite why in order to make a cog accessible, you first have to apply a teapot, monkey statue, the Roman numeral XII, glass bottles and a fish shaped broach is questionable, but perhaps best left ignored if you wish to enjoy the game! I should point out I made that combination up, but it does give a decent indication of what to expect.
Anyway, this brings me nicely onto the main complaint I had with Treasure Seekers. Even though you could pick up the required objects, there was no indication of where they needed to be used. This isn’t the case in Mystery. Often the main object will glow green as you first enter a room. And if you find items for other objects, they will become active so you can add them straight away. This saves a lot of messing around seeing as nothing stands out as obvious thanks to the fantastic looking backgrounds.
Puzzles often take place over multiple screens and multiple objects, with your helper Igor pointing out when you might need to look in another area for something useful. This helps to offer more challenge and extend the game.
If you are stuck looking for the vital teapot or starfish, there’s a handy hint button located in the lower left corner. A quick tap and a sparkly line is drawn towards the missing item. The button then needs time to refill before you can use it again.
Amongst the hidden object searching, you occasionally get presented with a logic puzzle to solve. There won’t be much you haven’t seen before – from making all lights light up at once to sequence memory – but it does make a nice break from proceedings.
As hidden object games go, you’ll struggle to find one that’s better than this. There are still very minor annoyances such as having to skip through cut scenes every time you load the game, but these are forgivable. It’s also prudent to point out that having not played the first game; I didn’t feel out of touch with the story. So don’t be put off jumping straight in to the sequel.