Because of the Steam Summer Sale, I’m loading up on new games to try out. As a joke, a friend of mine sent me Secret of the Magic Crystals, a fantasy horse-breeding simulation game. To humor him, I decided to play it this morning.
A magical meteor crashed on Earth long ago, breaking up into magical crystal pieces. My grandfather found two of the crystals and was convinced that they give horses special abilities. He was a college professor or something and the academic community thought he was nuts and kicked him out. I guess he gave up on investigating the crystals, because he gave them (and his farm) to his two young grandchildren.
The Game World
I, as a little kid, get to take over Grandpa’s farm. There are a few different structures in the farm:
- Stable – Where the horses live. I apparently inherited a unicorn along with the farm! You can also feed and brush your horses here.
- Blacksmith – Where you can make horseshoes by combining weird ingredients. My first horseshoe attempt failed and I lost the items I used to make them. On my second attempt, I was able to make horseshoes, but I never figured out how to put them on my horse.
- Corral – Where you train your horses. There are a few different training options that give the horses various attributes (strength, stamina, dexterity, etc.). The training options are essentially identical for the player, though. The horse goes along a path and you hit arrow keys as they appear above the horse. Not very challenging or fun.
- Barn – Where you get to heal your horse. You can mix ingredients to create drugs and inject them into your horses or something. My horses never appeared sick, so I decided not to play experimental herbalist.
- Gate – Where your can send your horses to races or have them complete quests. While your horse is at a race or on a quest, you just have to sit and wait for it to come back. From races, horses can win gold and trophies that show up in its stall. From quests, you get ingredients for horseshoes and potions.
Playing the Game
I went to the stable first, because that’s where I figured I’d find a horse. Sure enough, there was a brown unicorn waiting for me. I brushed it, fed it, gave it something to drink, and then tried to figure out what to do next. I failed at horseshoes in the Blacksmith, got bored with training in the Corral, and investigated the Barn. When I got to the gate, it looked like maybe that’s where the game would get fun because that’s where you can send your horse to races. Unfortunately, you’re not involved with the race at all. You just have to sit and wait for your horse to return with the results of the race. Meh.
At that point, I decided I wanted to try horse breeding before I gave up on the game. I couldn’t figure out how to get another horse, though! I went to the store in the stable, but I couldn’t buy another horse there. I tried to buy a better lantern for my horse, but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to actually buy it. I ended up looking online for how to breed horses. You have to upgrade your Well so that you can get a new stall in the Stable (obviously, duh!). Then, you go to that stall and are able to buy a new horse. The new horse becomes an adult pretty quickly and then you have to train it for a while. You also have to upgrade your Well again to make room for the baby horse. Once you have two horses with maxed out attributes, a heart icon appears by the horse in the Stable and a baby horse appears in the empty stall. Hurrah.
Horses also have levels, but I couldn’t figure out how to level my horses. Breeding my two level 1 horses produced a level 2 horse, though, so maybe the only way you level horses is through breeding.
Boring and confusing. The game just wasn’t fun and I couldn’t believe how difficult it was to figure out how do things like buying items in the shop and getting another horse. Granted, I didn’t play the game very long and maybe I totally missed some aspect of the game, but I didn’t enjoy it at all. Sadly, Secrets of the Magic Crystals is not a hidden gem of a game.