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Review: Iron Crypticle (Switch)

7

Good

To arms fellow knights. The King of Cryptonia has been robbed. Along with his royal golden treasures, a malevolent force has also kidnapped the Princess of Cryptonia. It is up to you, the King’s washed up Knights, to suit up and dive into the castle’s ancient crypt to recover the treasure and save the princess.

In this twin-stick dungeon shooter, players are thrown into single-screen rooms, closed off from exits. The goal is simple, take on hordes of enemies and proceed to the next room. Each room is part of a combination of rooms combined to form an entire floor. The player has to travel through every floor to gain access to a lower one, and continue on their treacherous journey to rescue the princess and recover the treasure. The path however, isn’t as simple as it sounds. Players won’t be travelling through rooms all lined up. Quite the opposite actually. The rooms on each floor are set out in different paths. It’s up to the players to decide which path to take to the final room on the floor which in turn houses the boss. The most intriguing part and one of the pulls that kept me going back for more is that every time you play, the rooms are randomised. So you’ll never know the safest path to take. And with more than half a dozen rooms separating you from the boss room and ultimately the next floor, it would be wise to choose your path carefully.

A maze of rooms

Sadly this can’t be determined except for hints to what the next room offers which could be powerful monsters. An area shrouded in mist or darkness that makes it difficult to see, or bonus rooms that offer the player an opportunity to purchase items from the most adorable cat merchant. Or play an arcade 2D side-scrolling platformer on an arcade machine, where the Knight collects rewards across the level whilst being chased by a giant spiked log. These intermediary rooms are much smaller than the crypt rooms. Coming back to the cat merchant room, this merchant offers players a wide array of items, including items that increase the duration of weapons or items to replenish your health. The items, however, aren’t free. In order to pay for them, you’ll have to collect coins that monsters drop after being slain. Or collect the coins from treasure chests spread throughout the multiple rooms you’ll travel through.

The first few floors will feel underwhelming and until you reach the lower floors that you were on and where enemies seem to be more around your challenge level, the game may become quite mundane quite fast.

A trusty axe

Players will be equipped with an axe from the start. However, as time progresses and you make your way through the rooms, you’ll come across weapon drops. Either dropped by the monster or appears out of thin air within the room after chaining pickups. These weapon upgrades offer the player an added edge. Some weapons include flamethrowers, making it a slaughter for oncoming zombies in your path. Whereas other weapons offer the the player an advantage to hit off the walls and reach an enemy on the other side of an obstacle block. Sadly, these upgraded weapons don’t last long and before you know it, it’ll back to the axe. Unless of course, you’ve just visited the adorable cat merchant. Admittedly even with these upgraded weapons, there are times where you’ll find yourself in a bind and completely surrounded. This is where the power of Magic Scrolls come into play. A magical attack that blasts down from the sky and incinerates everything within a certain radius around your character. This attack is extremely limited in use so make sure to save it until the right moment.

Weapons and coins aren’t the only things that’ll be dropped by monsters, or found in treasure chests. Various food items will be dropped throughout the room as monsters are defeated. Chaining these food pickups will grant players not only an increased score but also a chance to trigger additional drops that’ll increase the player’s speed and damage dealt.

Once again, from the top

The game also possesses a light RPG element to it. As you progress through the game and pick up food items and proceed through floors your character will not only unlock additional weapons in their arsenal but also increase in level themselves. So, you can be sure that every run you make won’t only be different in the randomisation of rooms but also different due to your character’s increased abilities, such as attack and health stats. Sadly, this is also where it fails a bit. Although the game also possesses a continue feature and allows players to continue a few times when failing dismally and dying a few floors down, there isn’t a save state. Thus forcing the player back to the first floor and although with renewed strength, it isn’t renewed wonder. The first few floors will feel underwhelming and until you reach the lower floors that you were on and where enemies seem to be more around your challenge level, the game may become quite mundane quite fast.

In the same breath, the rooms aren’t the only randomised part of the game. Whilst making my way through the different floors and failing to push further down, I’d get sent all the way back up to the first floor. In so doing, I found that the boss encounters are also randomised. Each with their own attack patterns and room layouts that create obstacles for the player to move around and dodge attacks.

All in all, Iron Crypticle is a great twin-stick shooter that anyone will be able to pick up and play, without having to proceed through an encyclopedia on how to play. It definitely incorporates a good arcade feel with an endless push through each room with hordes of enemies and randomised item drops and boss battles, with every floor becoming harder than the last. The game’s art style is also something to appreciate, as it projects the feel of a Ghost ‘n Goblins look. Sadly, it does possess a mundane soundtrack, that doesn’t strike any resonating chords with the player and can be easily forgotten. But apart from that, if you’re looking for something to pick up and play with a bit of a challenge and a reason to rank high up on an online leaderboard, this is your game.

Good

  • Floors are randomised
  • Boss fight patterns are randomised including what boss you encounter
  • Reward rooms can be completely missed
  • Couch Co-Op 4 players
  • Light RPG elements

Bad

  • No online co-op
  • Mundane soundtrack

Summary

A fun to play, quick to pick up, horror-themed twin-stick shooter. With stylised art that resembles the arcade classic Ghosts 'n Goblins and light RPG elements that are incorporated with a randomised dungeon room and boss battle set up.
7

Good

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