Calibria in Turmoil
Calibria: Crystal Guardians is a turn-based 3D RPG made by Mars Game in Hong Kong. You play the role of a summoner, caught up in a chase to stop a mysterious organization of black-robed men from reviving the demon king, Baeloth. Build your team, level up, and evolve them to tackle the ever-increasing difficulty level. The grind is truth in Calibria: Crystal Guardians, but we wouldn’t take our mobile RPGs any other way.
The game begins with a tutorial that offers up vital information. You’ll be guided through your first several battles and shown what types of heroes are best to use against your enemies. Heroes come in five types: Law, Chaotic, Evil, Light, and Dark. The tutorial also shows how to enhance your heroes’ abilities to take on more powerful foes.
You’ll earn achievements for leveling up as well as how often you level up. Checking the settings for certain battle modes will even net you in-game currency and stamina. You need stamina to engage in each fight. Calibria’s rewards system ensures you have plenty of it.
Dive into Calibria
You’ll have to sacrifice a lot of time to enjoy the game without paying to play. Calibria: Crystal Guardians distributes resources based on in-game currencies, all of which you can buy with real-world cash or earn through achievements and gameplay. You spend Stamina to battle, Calianate (basically sapphires) to level up runes and characters, and gems can be spent to purchase both Stamina and Calianate, as well as experience boosters and more heroes.
The game starts off easy. You can set the fights on auto to level up your characters, but there’s no idle mode so it can’t run in the background. Runes enhance your characters’ stats. Cats level up your heroes without sacrificing other heroes. Heroes are tiered on a system of one to six stars. You’ll have to devote a lot of resources and time to earn a six-star hero.
The realization that I would likely never have my own six-star hero, coupled with the sudden increase in difficulty, brought forth the hard truth about Calibria: Crystal Guardians. It’s a well-disguised pay-to-play game, regardless of its perks.
The game really shined when I turned off auto-battle because the dungeons had skyrocketed in difficulty. The A.I. had won all my early battles with ease, but they also attacked members of the opposing team without any clear direction. Now it mattered which enemy I defeated first and how many of my heroes I devoted to that task. Eventually, however, it became apparent that my enemies were exceeding my difficulty threshold much faster than I was able to progress.
Calibria: Crystal Guardians offers a few different paths to victory. The campaign itself has three difficulties: Normal, Hard, and Hell. Then there’s the Catacombs where you can earn items needed to evolve your heroes. Last, we have the Otherworld Trials, comprised of Vapor Dreamland, the Spire, and the Lair. The Lair is locked until the campaign is defeated on Hell. I didn’t get the chance to test it out.
Vapor Dreamland does not grant your heroes experience as with the main campaign. Instead, it offers Void Summon Stones. You must collect fifty of these stones before you can summon a high caliber hero, a feat I never achieved. The Spire is a series of floors with a new battle and random reward for each, such as Calianate or gems. The Spire employs an upgrade system called “Techs,” but these upgrades are only available in the Spire and otherwise forgettable as you’ll spend most of your time in the main campaign.
Can Calibria Be Saved?
Calibria: Crystal Guardians truly encompasses quite a bit of what makes RPGs great. Customization, strategizing, leveling up – it’s all there. However, when it comes to leveling up runes, which you absolutely must do, there’s a chance the enhancement will fail. There are even achievements for multiple enhancement failures.
The story is an afterthought. The voice acting sounds like the same three people, none of who sound too excited to be a part of this game. The plot is there merely to give the battle context, but it serves its purpose. You’re a summoner. Your task is to stop an evil demon from being resurrected. Level caps are a cause for concern because your enemies can reach caps much higher than yours.
Regardless of level caps, the game is still enjoyable. Leveling up becomes addictive because it’s so easy. My main beef with Calibria: Crystal Guardians is how level caps impede your progress. If you pay to play, you’ll obviously advance much quicker. If you don’t pay to play, you might never finish the game because it will become a grind fest. Strategy will only get you so far when your enemy can squash you in one hit.
While the story might as well be non-existent, the RPG elements of customization and leveling up are enough to keep you enthralled with Calibria: Crystal Guardians. It’s super addictive for the completionist. However, the difficulty ramps up toward the end in an almost unfair attempt to force you into spending real-world cash. Nothing sucks the fun out of a game quicker than a bait-and-switch tactic like that.