Gemstone Dragon, or The Quest for the Gemstone Dragon to give it its full name, is as traditional a CRPG as one can imagine, provided one imagines something not entirely dissimilar to Baldur's Gate.
Actually, Gemstone Dragon is the most Baldur-eque gaming experience I've had for quite sometime, what with its sword and sorcery plot, the traveling around fantasy worlds, the looting of corpses, the quests and side-quests, the real time combat and a plot about some sort of ancient evil rising in the way ancient evils always rise in games like this: covered in conspiracy. Now, even though its game-mechanics are not based on D&D, the game remains as traditional as one can imagine, starting off with the player selecting a portrait and his/her gender and going on to gain xp, fame and shiny bits of armour.
RPG tradition is also evident in the simple decently done tutorial that eases you into an intuitive interface, the simple yet very D&D rules system, the inventory and all those skills, basic attributes, levels, etc.
Tradition of course is no bad thing. Especially, when a tried game logic is applied to an inspired project filled with smart touches, as is the case with Gemstone Dragon. After a while you'll forget all about mechanics, systems and interfaces, and be immersed in classic, monster brutalizing adventure to save a fantasy world. You'll meet interesting NPCs, animals, foes and monsters, visit towns and dungeons, and -generally speaking- have a proper old-school CRPG experience.
What's more, the game does offer something new, and I'm not referring to the lovely journal and the handy automap. No, all of Gemstone Dragon is made in flash and playable online, proving that flash can really handle huge, deep games, complete with all the graphics, save/load functions, animations, sounds and texts necessary. It does come with a few hiccups of course -you can't for example use the right mouse button- but it's still impressive. Would be even better if the world map could be scrolled with the cursor keys, mind...
As for the graphics, they are lovely and properly 2D, with enough detail to help your imagination do something. The sound on the other hand is mainly functional, but does help with the overall atmosphere of Gemstone Dragon. Everything actually feels like running on a simplified version of the Infinity engine.
You can try a demo of Gemstone Dragon and buy both its online and downloadable version at the game's official site.
Verdict: You probably already know if you care for Gemstone Dragon or not. It's as honest a game as is humanly possible. As for me, I definitely enjoyed it.Related @ Gnome's Lair: