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Review: Zhaard & The Crystal FULL VERSION
Zhaard and the Crystal is a stylish and unique platformer.
Zhaard just oozes style, from the grainy noise filter, to the minimalistic in-game hud. Mad props here. The story, however, is seriously lacking, vaguely told in two in-game cutscenes that advance dialogue automatically while you can run around (I actually just ran past the first one my first time through, assuming it to be just one line of dialogue from what I later discovered was the Oracle) and two different endings.
Zhaard is a platformer with a unique twist: you can mount and ride the ever-present Ysari, a race of bone dragons, in order to defeat them, destroy certain blocks, and get to new areas. Even though the main movement is a slightly modified standard platform movement, the control is fairly solid, although the inability to jump while stationary is missed, and sometimes Zhaard gets stuck in the sides of walls. Zhaard is also pushed around when struck by an enemy or a trap, which is cool at first, then slightly annoying. He also takes damage from long falls, but if he falls enough to take damage and grabs a ladder in midair, he still gets damaged once he lets go. In a neat twist, health is transparently displayed through the length of Zhaard's scarf. Riding the Ysari is fun, and Czrall gets some good puzzles out of this game mechanic. Sometimes, however, collision detection on the Ysari just breaks without explanation.
While the graphics may be slightly simplistic (Zhaard doesn't even have a face), their style gives the game a surreal beauty. The scarf, while made of usually unconnected red circles, flows elegantly and his hair moves in the breeze as Zhaard runs, jumps, falls, and flies around the landscape. Particle effects punctuate collisions, footsteps, and splashes. Certain levels have an eerie fog overlay, too.
Sound and Music:
The music's not bad, but the ambient sounds are amazing, from the growls of the Ysari to wind to collisions.
Sadly, Zhaard only has 9 levels, lasting a couple of minutes each. There are two endings, but since the last level is so easy, it doesn't take long to see both. Also, because of the length, different nuances of puzzles remain unexplored.
Zhaard is an amazing experience, with reasonably solid controls and incredible art design.
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