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Two years ago, RosePortal Games first released the game Epic Quest of the 4 Crystals. Now, the game is available on Steam advertised as a new-and-improved version. With two years to work on it, it makes you wonder how much work they spent improving the game.

The game is advertised as one in the style of 16-bit RPGs like Final Fantasy and Chrono Trigger, and the graphics show it. Areas like a mushroom valley show both creativity in the art design and the level of detail in them. This level of detail doesn't just stop at the backgrounds. The monsters, especially the bosses, as well as the magic spells show that a lot of care went into the look of the game.

While the graphics are very good, the story is another matter entirely. That part makes the game feel as if a bunch of teenagers designed it. In many cases, the focus is on sex. With scenes where the villain wants to collect people's testicles and questioning the gender of a dwarf, it feels like it wanted to imitate the South Park style, but without success. Add to it the constant fourth-wall references makes it sound as if the game acknowledges that the story is one big joke.

Exploration is what you would expect for an RPG. You got your standard forests, caves, swamps, mountains, and so on. What make the areas feel odd is that they sectioned off each one as a platformer game would do. Once you complete one area, you go to a menu screen to pick the next area or return to a previous one. In other genres, this would make sense. However, RPGs are supposed to be one continuous world. Additionally, except for the starting town, it does not feel like there are any real places to visit except for more fighting. This makes exploring feels like it is an alien planet without any civilization. Without some safe place to visit or anything logical to connect them, the exploration feels lifeless.

As for combat, the game does not offer many differences from most RPGs. Battles occur with traditional weapons, spells, and the occasional special move. The one thing about it that really stands out is the retry feature. After a battle, it will rank the outcome and rewards accordingly. If the player did not get the best rating, it will offer the option to retry the battle. Doing so will put them back in at pre-battle conditions with all stats and items restored. This makes that many will use this as a crutch in order to get that perfect battle with minimal cost. Offering it if all characters die is one thing. However, by making it a standard option, it encourages people on breaking the system.

The one bright spot about the gameplay is the crafting system. As your inventory grows, instead of leaving the items as is, the player can combine them to have new effects. A couple of examples an ether that increases your magic stats and a potion that gives immunity to blindness. This is an interesting concept, but it is underdeveloped. Since this only works with items and not equipment, it feels more like an afterthought. It just makes you wonder why more ideas like it weren't used throughout the rest of the game.

As much as I wanted it to like the game, I just cannot recommend this for others to play. This is supposed to be an improved version of the original game. While it might be improved, it is not enough to justify playing. If you want a good 16-bit RPG, get the recently re-released Final Fantasy V instead.

Note: This game was provided by the developer with compensation for beta testing and review.