It’s hard to argue against a game that despite kicking your butt, always draws you back into its world. A game where fortunes can turn for better or worse in the blink of an eye. One with just enough variety and tweaks to make each attempt feel a bit different than the last. I can throw out a bunch of genres and subgenres: roguelike, rogue-lite, dungeon crawler, twin-stick shooter. While they might suffice to describe new release, Iron Crypticle, I prefer descriptors everyone can understand. Fun, challenging, addictive and a blend of game styles that is worth playing…many times over.
From a top-down perspective, you play as one of the washed-up knights of Cryptonia, with up to 4-players locally. The King’s treasure has been stolen and the objective of Iron Crypticle is to return the golden goodies by fighting your way through multiple rooms and crypt floors. In nearly every room, enemies will spawn and drop coins, treasures, food items or weapons as they meet their demise. The player’s job is to move around and clear each room without dying, collecting as many goodies as possible. After clearing a room, you can usually go one of multiple paths, every way eventually leading to a boss and exit to the next floor. Thanks to a map you can chart your path towards rooms you’d prefer. If you don’t like the graveyard area you might prefer to fight through the catacombs. An arcade room is a nice break to earn some quick coins and the item merchant is always a welcome sight. If you can make it through all the floors and bosses you can compare your high score with the rest of the world and always challenge the game on harder difficulties.
There is a nice variety of weapons, enemies and other pickups that keep things interesting. Darts, shuriken, grenades and more are available for a limited time. Special pickups called atomic fists act as a bomb to take out many enemies should you find yourself in a jam. You can also pick up or purchase perks that increase your weapon strength, item duration etc. Your character levels up as well, increasing their health bar. New weapons unlock as you progress further along, again keeping things fresh and somewhat new. I fully admit I am not as good at the game as some of my colleagues who review and stream new games. Hearing them talk about their successes and earning all the achievements made me green with envy. I kept trying, at least a few times each day, and I’ve gotten better and made more progress than ever. Something about Iron Crypticle keeps me coming back, even though it always ends in a swift butt kicking. Rounding out the modes is a ledger where you can see and learn about all the pickups you’ve found. And endless mode, which takes place in one room and is…you guessed it…endless. Try to survive for as many waves as you can and earn a high score on the leaderboard.
Graphically and sound wise you are looking at a game with a distinct retro style. It suits the game fine and runs smoothly, but if you aren’t a fan of retro style then you might not enjoy it. Controlling your knight is also a nod to the past with eight-directional movement. I wish that there was full analog control for more precise movements, but despite that I never felt hindered in the heat of battle. The game loads quickly and even with dozens of enemies on screen I never noticed any slowdown. While I had fun playing solo, Iron Crypticle will genuinely pay for itself as a party or game-night game. Four players working together to take down baddies and bosses is an experience I’d happily partake in.
Iron Crypticle is the perfect example of a game whose whole is worth more than the sum of its parts. It’s by no means a groundbreaking twin-stick shooter or dungeon crawler. It doesn’t have flashy art or weapons we’ve never seen before. It is a game that has many good elements put together that make for an additive and fun experience. When I first started Iron Crypticle, I got frustrated a lot, but still came back. It would benefit from a more in-depth tutorial and I could see some players getting frustrated from the lack of checkpoints and not returning. Priced at $9.99 USD there is some tremendous value when you factor in the multiplayer modes, difficulties, endless mode and filling the ledger. Tikipod Ltd has another hidden gem on their hands with Iron Crypticle, now available on Xbox One, PS4 and Steam.
A copy of the game was provided by TIKIPOD Ltd for the purpose of this review.