Square Enix Takes its Role-Playing to Facebook with Knights of the Crystals

Knights of the CrystalWhen you think of  Square Enix, you probably think about Final Fantasy. The Japanese RPG maker has been toying with Facebook of late, first with Chocobo’s Crystal Tower and now in Knights of the Crystals, a loose take on the Final Fantasy series that makes use of MMOG mechanics (and artwork) from past Square Enix titles.

Square Enix tells masterful stories, and the game wastes no time putting you into one.  Right off you learn that your father is in danger and speed off to save the day. Within an overworld map, you travel to various zones, which are gated by level, and complete quests in order to progress.

QuestsAt the start of each region, a bit of the story is presented and you proceed through the standard Facebook RPG quest progression. This means clicking through each quest a certain number of times to achieve 100 percent completion, consuming energy and purchasing required items as needed. Upon completion, you will see a brief animation and possibly receive special items. The artwork is nice, but the process is a little dull — at least until you encounter a boss monster.

This is where the game becomes truly interesting. When you meet a boss, you move into traditional Final Fantasy battle-mode. You recruit friends to help them defeat it as well as utilize specific spells and attacks. All is done in the standard turn-based fashion, but “recruiting friends” in Knights of the Crystals is far more than having them click a link to attack, as in Castle Age.

When you add a friend to your battle party, you literally use their character and at least some of the abilities that come with it. This makes playing with friends highly effective, and the leveling-up of all party members more important. But it gets more interesting. Like the Final Fantasy MMOGs, you have one character, but you can have multiple classes in Knights of the Crystals.

Boss FightAs you complete quests, battle opponents, and finish achievements, you will often get rewards that are part of a treasure collection. Upon collecting a set, many of these collections will unlock new classes such as a healer, fighter, monk, and so on. Each class has very different statistics (attack power, defense, etc.) and very different abilities. So, friends can truly differentiate their characters to be the most synergistic combination for boss encounters. Furthermore, you can change your class once every 23 hours. If you need to change more often, you can do it for the virtual currency, SQEX Coins.

Unfortunately, while friends can fluidly work together (at least for an asynchronous social game), the opportunities are few and far between. Thus far,  the only opportunity appears to be a boss fight. There is a battle system, where friends come into play — you can fight other users in your level, but this is pretty typical for a Facebook RPG. When you battle another user, the result is generated based on stats, number of “companions” (friends), and equipment.

Equipment and items are a bit vague in Knights of the Crystals. You can earn both from quests, or purchase them, but you never actually equip them. They all just sort of pile up in an inventory system, and get used as needed. For example, when battling another player, the game will show the items equipped for maximum battle strength. However, this is not displayed until after a fight, thus taking control out of your hands.

Overall, Knights of the Crystals is a pretty decent RPG with a class system that’s a particularly nice addition to Facebook. The ability to play with friends and use their avatars and classes in boss fights is fantastic, but it  feels underused and should come up more often in the game. Knights of the Crystals is certainly worth a try for RPG fans, and is growing in both the MAU and DAU with approximately 279,000 and 71,000 respectively.