By Beau Hindman from massively.joystiq.com
Crystal Saga is a browser-based, free-to-play, Flash-based MMORPG (there's a mouthful) that allows players to do a lot of things, including fully automate the grinding process. I can hear the potential comments already, so click past the cut and let me explain it more.
I need to clarify what I mean when I say "fully automated." It's not as though you can tell your little on-screen character that you want it to go here, attack this, and rescue that. It's not quite that in-depth. Basically the developers have added in a system that allows you to place your character into "AFK mode." How much time he can remain in AFK mode depends on a special item that you can get from quests or from the cash shop (I was AFK for hours and hours and never spent a dime), and what happens during that AFK time depends on what specifically you told your avatar to do during that time.
More good news: You don't need to worry whether other players, readers, or super-cool column writers care about how you play. Crystal Saga is for younger players, true, but accessibility is not only for them. I found the automated system to be really fun. In an AFK way, of course. I liked coming back to backpacks filled with goodies, and I still had to go back to town and sell the items and organize my skills. In fact, I've realized that AFK modes in games like Crystal Saga only shine light on how incredibly boring and trivial leveling-up has become in many MMOs. The archaic system of advancement hasn't changed in years and years, so why not do away with the process, or make it something that we simply don't have to sit there and watch?
The rest of the game is fun and colorful, including the pet system. I like the fact that the game runs on anything and that there are always players around. Other than those few facts, there's not much more you need to know about your first several hours in the game (which is how long I generally spend in a game before writing this column). It sort of pains me to say so, but the existence of an "AFK mode" is about the only thing I came across that makes Crystal Saga much fun. It sounds weird, but I got the same feeling when I found pocketfuls of goodies that I used to get when I logged into EVE and saw that my skill training was completed. It's worth checking out, even just to surprise yourself.
You can read full review here.
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