MARDEK Chapter 3: Keystones is the third chapter of the MARDEK series. It has a more complicated, nonlinear plot, 10 more characters, hundreds of new items, and many more features. The game's engine was completely rewritten during production, rendering save files from before then unusable. Fortunately, updated versions of MARDEK Chapter 1: A Fallen Star and MARDEK Chapter 2: A New Hero were released at the same time.
According to the official Fig Hunter website 'The third chapter in the story of MARDEK. Mardek is now a Royal Knight, who's sent on various missions for the King. Of course, things aren't that simple... And Rohoph's still alive; the Governance de Magi can't be havin' with that. Chapter 3 will include oodles more party members, and less linear gameplay. Exciting.' There will be loads more side quests than the first, an additional Cambria tournament, optional content, etc.
Gameplay is similar to that of the previous two chapters back when they were first released, but there are many differences between the original engine for the first two chapters and the redesigned engine that is now used for all three chapters. They include:
- An overhaul of the Reactions system. Now all equipped reactions are activated when the X key is pressed when the cursor is running on the yellow part of the Reaction bar. Reactions now need RP to be equipped. Different types of reactions use separate RP bars.
- Passive skills.
- Ability to talk to party members using the P key.
- Redesigned menus and battle GUI.
- Battle GUI now has shows the turn order for characters and monsters.
- Some field graphics changes (ex. water now blends smoothly with the surrounding background instead of having an NES graphics style with very limited colours).
- Redesigned particle effects in battles (more colours and animations are now used instead of choppy vector animations).
- Redesigned battle animations (characters and monsters now have smoother and more animations).
- The ability to collect medals (achievements).
- Addition of save points in the form of save crystals instead of a save-anywhere system (added to prevent bugs).
This chapter introduces many new party members, as well as a few new species to the planet of Belfan.
Main article: Characters (MARDEK)
There is roughly one sidequest in each new dungeon. In addition to these, there is the longer running Trade Quest and the search for the Dreamstones. Dreamstones are generally awarded from these sidequests, and tell a story when played in order.
The story begins three years after the events of Chapter 2. Mardek has not seen Deugan or Emela since the crash of Moric's Battleship, despite looking for both. He, along with newly appointed knights Donovan and Sharla, arrive at the Sun Temple to investigate the monster attacks in its lower levels; on their way, they meet a strange man named Clavis who talks to them about the concept of Keystones. During the investigation, they are attacked by Sslen'ck Ea-Sslenal, the Reptoid chief, and his warriors, who mistakenly believe them to be aggressors. After defeating Sslen'ck and dealing with the monsters in the temple they meet him again in the village of Xantusia, and he decides to join the group. They move through the Sandflow Caves to the Dark Temple. After fighting their way through the temple, the group finds the wounded Guardian of the Dark Crystal, a dog-like creature called Solaar, who they then heal. Solaar asks for their help in defeating a mysterious man who is trying to take the Dark Crystal. They are attacked by the mysterious man who, when about to lose, warps out with the Crystal. After this, Mardek is summoned by the King of Goznor.
Search for the Elemental Crystals
Strangely, the King has glowing red eyes and talks oddly, which Rohoph feels familiar. He cannot recognise why, however. The King orders Mardek to find the Elemental Crystals for him. Mardek and company find it strange that the King would ask them to do this, so they reach the conclusion that the King is being impersonated or possessed. They agree to find the crystals in order to keep them from him. Before they begin to search for the crystals, Mardek recruits Elwyen, Gloria and Meraeador - the latter because he wants to finish his metal man and bring it to life.
Mardek and Meraeador go to the Aeropolis Library for a necromatic tome that will detail how to seal a soul into the metal man. However, the tome is in the hands of a man named Saul. They go to confront Saul, who tricks them into a dungeon. However, Clavis appears again and reveals that he followed them to Saul's house. He talks about his friend who was a necromancer, reminding Rohoph of Moric. Once they escape, to Rohoph's horror, Saul and his pet - Moric's Dracelon transformed into a Bone Dracelon - attack them. Mardek and the party defeat the Bone Dracelon and Saul gives them the tome but tells them he will get them back someday. Mardek, Meraeador, and Gloria go to Meraeador's Workbench and Gloria tells them they need three unusual items - a crystal rose, a wicked soul and a silver cord - to seal a soul into the metal man.
Mardek needed to get to the Water Crystal (which he believes is underwater). However, Emela is no longer here to cast the Aqualung spell so they can't breathe underwater. The Goznor Shaman could make a potion that enables them to go underwater, if they get the right items for it. They go to Lifewood to get one item they needed for the potion and the first item Meraeador needed for the metal man. Once they got the potion, they go under Lake Qur to go to the Water Temple. Once solving a difficult puzzle and defeating the Master Stone for the second item Meraeador needs to complete his metal man, they confront the Water Guardian. For some strange reason, the Guardian seems to recognise Mardek but Mardek doesn't recognise the Guardian herself. After defeating the Guardian and obtaining the Water Crystal, they meet Clavis again who asked them for the final time if they were really planning to get all the Elemental Crystals. Once they got the Water Crystal, they proceed to get the Fire Crystal.
Mardek and the party seek out the Aeropolis Shaman, who informs them of the location of the Fire Crystal - a volcano south east of Aeropolis called Crimson Peak. The group fights their way through the fiery inhabitants of the volcano to find, nestled deep within, the Fire Temple. On their way, they find a mysterious being sealed into the walls of the cave, who the Old Hermit - the Crimson Peak Shaman - reveals to have bound there years ago. The Old Hermit feels remorse for this act, for though the bound soul was that of a wicked being, it has suffered a fate worse than death at his hands. Because of this, he tells Mardek how to release the creature, who immediately attacks - once slain, it drops the final reagent needed to finish Mereador's metal man.
Just outside the entrance to the Fire Temple, Mardek and his companions run afoul of the World's Saviours again. Instead of just fighting, they suggest a race to the Fire Crystal - Mardek and his companions win because the World's Saviours don't know how to operate the devices which unlock the door to the crystal; through this door awaits a dragon-like creature, the Fire Guardian. After a long and difficult battle, the Fire Guardian is defeated, and Mardek takes the crystal. In a last-ditch attempt to get the Fire Crystal, the World's Saviours attack the party - this is one of the hardest fights in the game. Eventually, of course, Mardek and the group triumph, taking the Fire Crystal with them.
With all the correct reagents in place, Mardek, Meraeador and Gloria return to the metal man and begin the process of sealing a soul into it. The ritual proceeds correctly until the very end, when Meraeador stutters three times on the last syllable; this results in four souls, rather than one, being sealed into the man. Gloria suggests the name Legion, citing a story about a man who was possessed by many demons (this is a reference to an identical story from The Bible).
The Lost Monastery
In the Yalortian monastery of Aeropolis, Mardek meets his old friend from Chapter 2, Vehrn. The High Priest of the monastery, Vudu, sends Vehrn to get a stone in the Lost Monastery of Lifewood. Mardek and Vehrn meet the Lifewood Shaman who tells them how to get the the lost monastery: through Dreamwood. Mardek arrives at the monastery but they couldn't get in. Suddenly, the yellow soul of Legion tells them how to get in (because he was a former Yalortian living in the monastery). Mardek, Vehrn and Legion meets the Fallen High Priest, who challenges them for the stone. Though the Priest was defeated, he seems to recognise the yellow soul of Legion (whose name is revealed as Bostolm). Mardek obtains the stone and gives it to Vudu who in exchange gives them a runestone in return.
The Earth Crystal
Mardek meets Muriance, a Bandit Chief who now claims to be a treasure hunter. Muriance can't get in because he needs the other half of the runestone, which Mardek has. The Bandit Chief tricks him and ambushes him by attacking him with four bandits. Mardek goes inside the Earth Temple and unlocked the Guardian door by solving a puzzle in each of the four rooms. Mardek challenges the Earth Guardian into a battle. Once Mardek and company defeats the Earth Guardian, they confront Muriance and battles him for the crystal. Once Muriance was defeated, he warps out (without the crystal). Mardek and his friends travel to the Air Temple but finds a knight and a guard telling Mardek that the King has needed to talk to him.
When the Crystals have been found, Rohoph finally recognises the King as his old friend Qualna. He initiates a fight since he thinks that the King is possessed by Qualna (though he was only controlled). When the King is mortally wounded, he tells everyone that Donovan was his son and he must take the throne. Clavis shows up again, reveals himself as Qualna and tells Rohoph that his Clavis scheme was planned to convince Rohoph to return to Anshar. But when his efforts prove futile, he returns to Anshar through an Astral Tunnel. Rohoph then jumps into the tunnel, pursue and kill Qualna. Finally, Rohoph casts a spell to prevent Qualna from Soul Transferring. After that, Mardek and Elwyen go to see a play in Aeropolis where they meet a mysterious stranger who talks about his past that is similar to Mardek's. Elwyen then expresses her feelings for Mardek, but Rohoph harshly insults her (unbeknownst to Elwyen Rohoph was actually talking, despite her knowledge that he exists), as he has a fear of his friends, similar to how the Governance de Magi did to him. Mardek objects, but is silenced by Rohoph.
Main article: Soundtrack (MARDEK)