Crystals of Time is a fun little hidden object game for anyone looking to kill three-or-so hours without too much mental commitment. There are a handful of puzzles, the difficulty of which range from very easy to moderately difficult, yet the mere activity of going through and solving them is satisfying enough. While the game is pretty straight forward, with only the occasional possibility of getting stumped, you can use the time crystal Ashley Ford starts out with to give you a hint--these are visual cues that trigger the player's understanding of what to do next instantaneously. There were, perhaps, a few too many of the "hidden object" sessions, but these are trifling and take only a few minutes to complete, even when you're presented with two or three to complete in a row. A big hint I would have found useful: if you come to a place where you seem to have run out of things to do, return to the places where you have scavenged for hidden objects before; often you will have to do another round of object finding in order to come up with the next item needed to proceed in the game.
One of the strongest elements to Crystals of Time is the artwork. As the entire experience plays out in a series of still pictures (with some minor animation at times), the player is treated with a wide array of stunning visuals that range from the vast, brooding insides of a sprawling mansion, to a glittering moonlit coast. It is an art style which is relatively simple, but detailed and colorful enough--with an excellent use of source-light shadings--that it never gets tedious to look at. In addition to the art, the soundtrack is both simple yet effective, adding to the atmosphere of the game in a substantial way. And, although there are only three-or-four songs to be had, the game designers were smart enough to allow for long stretches of silence between each play so that they don't get redundant.
The story, on the other hand, isn't very remarkable. It's pretty shallow and without any real character depth or interaction. Still, in a simple hidden object game such as this, it's not really all that imperative. The surface-deep story matches the overall casual nature of the game, and it's not really a knock against it; this game is light fair, enjoyed best when entering into it with a hankering for a nice, noncommittal gaming experience. I did, however, run into one glitch which probably won't happen reliably with every play-through: the journal somehow got locked up halfway through the game, and with each proceeding entry, the text overlapped upon the previous entry, rendering the book virtually useless. Thankfully, the game is clear enough that it did little to hinder my progress.
After all's said and done, Crystals of Time comes recommended at it's cheap $4.99 price-point, and is a no-brainer on sale for two dollars or less.