By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on July 17, 2017
Are you ready for some old school twin stick shooter action? If you are, then suit up and come with me as we explore the dungeons of Cryptonia! As the royal guard, it will be our task to retrieve the royal treasure, as well as Cryptonia's princess, both of which have been taken by "a mysterious and malevolent force". Yes, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, it's time to be the knights our kingdom needs and defeat the many evils that the dark depths of said dungeons have in store for us... It's time to play Iron Crypticle!
It's a normal day in the peaceful kingdom of Cryptonia. The king sits on his throne, admiring his huge golden treasure, when all of a sudden, the light go out. When they come back on, the treasure is missing, as is Cryptonia's princess (which of the two the king is saddened by most, remains to be seen...) The king's guard, who have gotten lazy and out-of-practice by years and years of peace, must now take up arms once more and retrieve what was stolen. Bravely, our iron clad heroes dive into the hole left by the theft and travel to Cryptonia's dungeons. Upon arrival, they are set upon by a host of monsters and other assorted bad guys, and will have to fight for their very survival...
Iron Crypticle is a dungeon themed twin stick shooter, developed by Confused Pelican Games, in collaboration with Tikipod Ltd for the PC, Playstation 4 and Xbox One. You take on the role of one of four brave knights and will have clear rooms in order to reach the end of a floor within the dungeon and defeat its warden. The game can be played alone or, more preferably, with up to four players in local coop. I personally love local coop; there's just something about inviting friends over and sitting together while playing a game and having fun doing so. And Iron Crypticle fits that bill perfectly!
When you enter a new floor of the dungeon, there are a number of paths that you can take. After clearing a room, you can usually choose between two or three paths that will all steer you into another direction. Some rooms contain a shop (which, in true good old, nonsensical style, is run by a cat...) that lets you spend your hard-earned cash on items or upgrades. Other rooms might contain a arcade, in which, for the price of 10 coins, you can play a mini game called Castle Crushers; a side-scrolling platform mini game in which you have to reach the exit safely and that, if completed successfully, rewards you with additional prizes. Most rooms, though, contain mostly a small army of enemies, all hell-bent on your destruction, that will have to be defeated before you can continue your quest.
As I've already mentioned, each floor has a warden, or boss, you will have to defeat before you can enter the next floor. These bosses are positively huge and will demand you to use every bit of skill you can possibly master if you want to have a shot at defeating them. This also feels like a blast from the past! Some of you might remember the time when games had bosses at the end of every stage, which were seriously more difficult to defeat than the rest of the enemies you'd encountered up till then. Rest assured, Iron Cryticle has taken this exact same premise and has incorporated this in its gameplay. Even with more than one player, these evil bosses are a challenge to defeat, even for the more seasoned gamers.
A very important part of playing Iron Crypticle, is gathering treasures and power-ups. These trinkets will make your life much easier, because they let you upgrade your abilities, making you as strong as you'll need to be when you want to have a shot at completing the lower floors of the dungeons. You can also collect hearts that restore your health, as well as temporary weapons that change your standard attack. If you manage to get cornered by a number of enemies, you can use a dash-move to escape to safety while damaging the enemies you dash through, or use your Atomic Fist to smash them into tiny smithereens. The Atomic Fist is an area attack that kills most enemies in one strike and, better yet, is capable of taking out multiple enemies at once. So, why not use this attack all the time, I hear you ask? Well, because you can't! You see, this awesome attack has to be powered up first, so you'll have to collect charges before you can actually use it!
Iron Crypticle is presented in an old school, 16-bit art style (something I also like very, very much!), complete with a corresponding, retro sound track. The controls of the game are really easy to master; use the left thumb stick to move, the right one to use your standard attack. Apart from that, you only need one button for dash and one for your mighty Atomic Fist. See how easy that was? This does not mean, however, that Iron Crypticle is anywhere near an easy game! No sir, it is a proper challenge, and the deeper into the dungeon you delve, the harder it gets! And, if you manage to lose all your credits, it truly is game over and you will have to start all over again... from the beginning of the game! Don't you just love perma-death? Well, maybe not so much when you've just managed to clear a large number of floors, but what the hell! Each play through shuffles the board, so to speak, so no two games are the same. This adds even more replay value to the game than it already has.
So, all things considered, one can only come to the conclusion that Iron Crypticle is a really fun game to play, be it alone or with your friends. The cool art and ditto sound track, easy to master controls and awesome levels will let you have good, friendly, violent fun for hours on end! So, as your king, I command you to retrieve my treasure and restore peace to our kingdom! Oh, and, only if it's not too much trouble, could you also bring back the princess...?