Crystals of Arborea is the predecessor to the Ishar series of games. It’s a first-person, tile-based RPG, with a character-based party system and turn-based combat.
The game is controlled with either a mouse or a joystick and the aim is to wipe out the resident monster population on an island, while at the same time searching for a set of crystals that are hidden in random places. You get clues to the whereabouts of the crystals by answering questions from mysterious men inside dwellings located around the island.
You start off with a named hero (Jarel) and must generate a party of up to seven members (you and six others), comprised of Fighters, Magicians, or Rangers. In combat, Fighters must be next to an opponent to be able to attack; Rangers must be at least one square away, and have line of sight; and Magicians can only fight using spells and must be given time to generate them.
Combat kicks-in when you bump into a monster in the landscape, and the view switches to an overhead, grid view of the action. From here, the game then turns into a similar game to ‘chess’, as you and your party try to outwit the enemy by moving around and fighting. The combat is quite absorbing, which is due to its simplicity more than anything.
Released in 1990 for Amiga, Atari ST and PC MS-DOS, Crystals of Arborea is a decent enough game and seems to have a bit of a following. It’s certainly a good enough game to play right now. The PC version slightly edges it for me, because of the more responsive controls, which is good because that’s the one you get when you buy it on GOG.com.