CRYPTMASTER Review: Prowling for Bugs and Criticizing a Countess Through a Bardic Rhyme

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    CRYPTMASTER is a dungeon crawler RPG where players can interact with the world by typing words. Playing as four long-dead heroes, you must climb UP through the levels of Underland until you reach the surface. This unique grayscale game is one you’re sure to enjoy – read this review to discover the best parts of CRYPTMASTER.

    HISTORY

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    Staring into the endless abyss isn’t something I thought I’d encounter in a typing game, but I can say with certainty that I did. In CRYPTMASTER, you play as four heroes who have been awakened from their eternal slumber by a necromancer known as CRYPTMASTER. With the CRYPTMASTER occasionally chattering in your ear, you travel through Underland and make your way through five chapters of the game.

    You pick up parts of the story as you go, starting with CRYPTMASTER telling you why he has resurrected you. By fighting creatures and getting the correct answers to the SKULL and CHEST riddles, you’ll gain clues that will help you discover more memory words for each of the heroes. Some words are just memories, others are skills you can use to fight.

    The story feels a little unbalanced between the five levels (Chapters). The first one is quite long, but the second one is very long. It felt like it was endless and it definitely took up most of the CRYPTMASTER tutorial I wrote. The third chapter isn’t much shorter than the second, and the end of that chapter, which is the islands of the gods and goddesses, seems a little rushed. On the contrary, the fourth and fifth chapters are very brief. I feel like they could have been combined and would have fit together well. It didn’t make much sense for me to continue climbing when I was already on the surface world.

    Having ADGA talk to you at each ALTAR was a great way to start getting the players thinking about the task at hand. Until she told me more of the story, she was all for breaking the SOUL STONE and giving the CRYPTMASTER what she wanted.

    Score: 4/5

    Visual design

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    This is one of the best things about the game. It’s a very innovative RPG design, compared to what we see a lot in the genre now. A completely grayscale game like this is already intriguing, but I found myself fascinated by the white glow of the torches, the disconcerting floating and talking skulls, and the CRYPTMASTERs themselves.

    The game’s gods, goddesses, kings, and queens are all distinctive, although all the kings and queens have a skeletal quality. I have to say that I found KLAXO and his island more disturbing, just because of the soundtrack of that broken music box. There’s something about a wide smile and a giant eye on a balloon-shaped face that scared me.

    I also found the rats strangely unpleasant. I don’t know if it was all the time I spent wandering around in Chapters 1 and 2, but… Gods, it’s the eyes. Many beings in CRYPTMASTER have those strange, spinning eyes. They are difficult to look at.

    Score: 5/5

    Controls and Accessibility

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    I don’t have the best memory and I was sure I would absolutely fail the puzzles in this game, but it turns out I hardly needed any help with them! However, there is a really cool feature in the game that allows the CRYPTMASTER to intervene if you guess the answer to a SKULL riddle wrong. You can also add additional cards (guesses) to the CHEST guessing game in case you need CRYPTMASTER to repeat one of its answers.

    As someone who plays on a laptop, I found its typing game to be a lot of fun and I didn’t need to use the autocomplete feature while playing. I’ve seen a console player’s game and feel that using a controller is not the optimal option for a game like this, even if it is designed to be played on PC and console.

    Another problem is that the game is very dark and I had problems with certain areas. Some of the CHESTS and SKULLS are almost too well hidden and difficult to see from afar. Additionally, you can only see things straight ahead, meaning you can’t sneak around corners to avoid enemies. Instead, you should take a step back to observe their walking patterns and the like.

    Score: 4.5/5

    How to play

    The game looks creepy, and it is. It’s very much a “things that go bump in the night” type game, without it being a horror game. I don’t enjoy horror and I was able to play this entire game with no problems. The creepiness comes from the design and sound effects. Bugs scurrying on walls is not pleasant; Fair warning for anyone who isn’t a fan of bugs: there are a lot of them.

    I didn’t have to unlock all the words and memory skills to complete the game. There are tons of them to unlock. I leveled up all my heroes to their second level, and JORO and SYN to their third level. This means that even if you are not good at the current hangman game, you can still beat it without going completist mode.

    I also enjoyed having three options at the end of the game. Throughout most of the first few chapters, you don’t really think about any other option outside of what CRYPTMASTER wants. Listening to ADGA and, much later, AUDO gives you new perspectives. However, the hidden ending is my favorite.

    Lastly, the WHATEVER game is amazing. I may have lost to the COUNTESS a few times (she’s very hard to beat!), but it’s a great game and I hope the people behind CRYPTMASTER consider making a real card game in the future. I would love to play it more.

    Score: 5/5

    Soundtrack and voices

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    This NEEDS to be in this review. The game’s soundtrack is very thematic and the voice acting is perfect. From the CRYPTMASTER’s reactions to what you’re writing to the chilling voices of children reading some of SKULL’s riddles, this is a new level of dedication to the sounds of a game.

    Each of the gods and goddesses had their own music, and the battle music didn’t seem very repetitive despite staying the same. I’m also really glad there were subtitles because I sometimes have a hard time listening and some of CRYPTMASTER’s lines are hard to understand. Similarly, some of the SKULL puzzles were not very clear.

    I think the team would do well to try playing the game without headphones or playing at a lower volume without subtitles to check if everything was clear or not.

    Greetings to the entire scene with VITUS. Writing a rap with an NPC and having them respond to my chosen words was great. Also, the full song. slappingand playing it in front of the COUNTESS was pure gold.

    Score: 4.5/5

    Verdict

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    Although you may find it a bit difficult if you are not good with spelling, CRYPTMASTER is an excellent role-playing game that has incredible features. Sure, there are parts that are a little frustrating and will make you feel like you have to bang your head on the desk, but it’s a chilling adventure through the residences of various human and non-human inhabitants. There are secrets to find, memories to discover and so many puzzles that your SKULL will spin.

    And that final reveal? Marvelous. Completely unexpected.

    Final score: 4/5

    Looking for other games to play that surprise you a little? Check out Pro Gaming Guides for our review of Alone in the Dark: A Step in the Right Direction or our review of INDIKA: A Debate on Religion That Strikes a Heartstring.


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