Gaming History 101

Know Your Roots

Iron Crypticle Review

with one comment

Tikipod continues its quest to release all of it’s games to the Switch and I’m sure my whinging at the developer on the internet for a full year had everything to do with it. Iron Crypticle is next up for players and once  again Tikipod has knocked it out of the park, or maybe the crypt in this case.

Set in the land of Cryptonia, the royal treasure consisting of giant golden fruits, vegetables, and the princess have been taken, leaving a large gaping hole in the floor. It’s up to the lazy kings guard (who sort of let this happen in the first place) to jump down the hole and save the day. Iron Crypticle doesn’t take itself too seriously and you will undoubtedly chuckle at various moments including the merchant cat and the games final ending, which of course I won’t spoil here. I highly recommend you check out the “ledger” which is a sort of codex of all the items you collect in the game where the developer has taken the time to give a humorous description for practically everything you see (there may also be an achievement in it for you if you make the effort).

Iron Crypticle is a top down twin stick arcade shooter with roguelike elements that takes influences from a few old arcade favourites including Ghouls’N Ghosts, Smash TV, and even Bubble Bobble.

As you enter each room you simply have to clear it of monstrous creatures. You start out with a basic axe projectile but stronger weapons will occasionally spawn making it easier to take down the hoard. These weapons will only last for a short period of time but they’re fun to use and often give you a sense of relief, particularly when the numbers of enemies are overwhelming or your health is dwindling. Additionally, you can pick up scrolls to cast temporary magic spells as well as activate a special ability which forms a destructive circle around your character wiping out all enemies inside. Both these powers can be activated at the touch of a button or stored for later. After clearing a room of baddies you get to choose the next room you enter. A handy map will preview what to expect ahead, so you can attempt to guess the best strategy. Rooms are randomly generated each play through making the game incredibly replayable and not all rooms contain enemies.

Every now and then you’ll come across a room with an arcade cabinet which allows you to play a 2D side scrolling mini game where you’re being chased by a giant rotating spike trap. As you escape you can collect coins and additional points for the main quest. Its not the end of the world if you die here and you can re try the mini game, however, it costs you coins for each attempt so you have to weigh up whether the investment is worth it. Coins can be spent at the merchant store which is owned by a cute kitty cat. Here you can buy helpful resources including permanent upgrades to your character. This isn’t the only way to upgrade your characters stats. The key strategy is to try collect the food the baddies drop to rack up combos. If you keep the combos going upgrade items will drop to improve your stats but this does come at a great risk. Enemies often flood the rooms and some shoot projectiles, so you have to quickly decide on the fly if its worth the risk reaching for the food items or playing it safe. Taking a single hit will cause the combo meter to reset. You have a handy dash move which will help you in a pinch but it does take a short moment to re charge The game also has an experience meter and over time this will increase your overall health as well as increase upgrade slots for your abilities. The final room in each stage is a boss fight (also randomly generated). Even if you happen to re visit the same boss on additional playthroughs the attacks they use may vary which is a nice touch. Like many arcade games Iron Crypticle is quick to pick up and play but takes time to master,  this learning process is incredibly fun. Yes, the boss fight might wreck your day, or that dam fire enemy will burn you to a crisp, or you get caught by that darn spike trap but with each attempt you learn and you soon become a kings guard master. Also with each death you unlock new weapons and power ups to use in future runs. Should you find the difficulty too hard – or too easy – it can be adjusted before you begin a run.

You can choose to go it alone or bring an additional three people along for the ride. Since this is on the Switch now you can even play this on the go as you travel round the country in a beaten up camper van.  Maybe you can convince that miserable person in a suit on your commute to work to pick up a joy con and help you take on that boss you’re struggling with. Depending on the difficulty setting you’ll get a pool of lives to keep you going as long as you possibly can. It’s worth noting if your playing this game to rack up a high score if you die and choose to continue it will reset your score to zero.

The graphical style is pixilated and takes clear inspiration from a certain game that features Ghouls and Ghosts. For a game that’s set in dark crypts its quite the colourful treat. Accompanied with this is quite the catchy soundtrack giving me vibes of the old arcade days.

Iron Crypticle is not a long game. Once you finished the main game you’ll unlock an additional campaign which features more stages and more rooms that are not featured in the first campaign. It’s a tougher challenge but well worth seeing to its conclusion. There’s also the inclusion of endless mode which throws you (and your friends if choose) into a single room of endless spawning enemies and you basically see how long you last. All game modes come with leader boards tailored to each difficulty mode if you want to prove how awesome you are to the world.

Overall, Iron Crypticle is fun ghouly action either alone or with some friends. It features many retro nods to the old days while featuring modern quality of life improvements. It’s perfect for those times you just want to pick up a game quickly and have some fun. Now the Switch version is released you can take that fun on the go. But I don’t recommend you take it to an actual crypt and play it. That’s kinda creepy.

I own this game on PS4, Xbox One, and Switch. The above review is relevant to all versions of the game, however I picked up a few minor differences between each version. The Switch  version allows you to play with the individual joy cons which on the surface is a great idea, it will make you really miss the extra analogue stick to help with the twin stick shooting. It  reminds me a lot of playing Smash TV on the Mega drive with the D-pad and three buttons, it just doesn’t compete with the arcade controls. The PS4 and Switch versions allow you to choose which kings guard character you play as, this is just a cosmetic feature but its a nice addition. The joy con’s rumble feature is well  integrated into the Switch version. Finally, the special ability which forms a destructive circle around your knight feels much more devastating in the the Switch version compared to the other two versions. Lastly on Switch you get a pool of lives even in single player (unless you play on hard). If you play solo on PS4 or Xbox its one life in solo mode and that’s your lot.. With this info in mind the Switch version comes across as the definitive version of the game. However, I had a ton of fun on all versions.

Positives

  • Fantastic arcade fun co op or solo
  • Rogue Like features make the game highly replayable
  • The game will most likely make you chuckle a few times with its humour
  • Great value

Considerations

  • Harder to play with a single joy con on Switch
  • Your cat probably won’t make a good co op partner

A review copy was provided by the publisher for the Switch. PS4 and Xbox One version were purchased by the reviewer.  This title is available on Playstation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC (Windows only) for an initial price of £7.39/$9.99 on all platforms.  It has also been available in various tangible forms from multiple retailers on certain platforms, price and availability will vary.

Written by jamalais

February 18, 2019 at 11:00 am

One Response

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Cryptonia sounds very similar to the legendary Riptonia from Spyro 2. Coincidence? I think not!

    Andrew Vi

    February 19, 2019 at 4:15 pm


Leave a Reply to Andrew Vi Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: