The gameplay in Crystal Bearers is easily upstaged by its visuals. Aside from being just plain beautiful between sweeping vistas and intricate backgrounds, the art direction creates appealing character and environmental designs that suck you into the story even if you don’t quite understand the plot or resent the fact that some areas are more linear than your average RPG. You’ll stare at costumes with elaborate jewelry and realistic-looking chainmail, examine the patterns on everything from grapevines to lampposts and get a real kick out of staring at the capital city as you whiz by on an air trolley with picture windows.
Sightseeing becomes a problem only once you’ve opened up more than a third of the world map. This happens well before you gain the ability to use warp points, so you’ve got to go everywhere either on foot or by riding a Chocobo. There are street signs posted throughout the world at every convenient angle – but it’s just so hard to know where you’re going sometimes that you’ll find yourself checking and re-checking the map and desperately looking for the one Moogle who seems to know where everything is.
The absolute best part of the game is all of the stuff you can do besides the main plot. Not that the main plot isn’t fun – it’s just that the minigames are limited to chases, jumping puzzles and the occasional weirdness like ballroom dancing. There’s so much more to do besides that, like fishing and grape-gathering and endless quests for treasure chests and synthesis materials. Stopping the main plot to synthesis grind is definitely worth your while in Crystal Bearers; you can increase Layle’s typical stats as well as buff cool stuff like the range of his telekinesis.
The one thing that will ruin Crystal Bearers for you is if you can’t take the waggle. The game isn’t asking you to throw your rotator cuff out to complete it – but the temptation to grab-and-fling everything that isn’t nailed down is pretty strong. So maybe you should invest in some Icy Hot if you think you can’t resist.
P.S. Cutest. Moogles. Evar.
Dev 18, 2009