Reviewed by Josh Brant
Developed By: Tikipod
Published By: Tikipod
Category: Action, Shooter
Release Date: February 13, 2019
The developers at Tikipod are no slouches to creating retro-inspired experiences. A few years ago they released Rock Boshers DX, which was also on the Nintendo Switch, and it provided a 4-bit action and shooting experience that somehow still felt modern. Now, they have released a brand new title called Iron Crypticle, taking cues from the shooter genre with Smash TV among others.
Like Rock Boshers DX, Iron Cryptical is essentially an improved and updated version of a previous title named Iron Fistical, which was released on the PC back in 2014. The plot is simple, as you play as one of four knights and while relaxing in the throne room with your king, when suddenly all his golden trinkets are stolen through a hole in the ground and it’s up to you to find the culprit and return his possessions.
Immediately, Iron Crypticle reminds me of games I’d often see in arcades when I was a child with the aforementioned Smash TV coming to mind. With its one screen rooms and chaotic gameplay, while also trying to desperately focus on shooting what’s around you dodging enemies and projectiles, leads to an exhilarating time.
As expected, it is a twin-stick shooter and you move with the left stick and fire automatically with the right. You also have a super move known as the ‘atomic fist’ that devastates all enemies in the nearby vicinity and a dash move that not only allows you to move out of harms way, but also damages enemies as you pass through them. There are also RPG elements you being able to level up over time, which increased the amount of hits you can take before dying.
You can also acquire items that can upgrade one of the four stats: movement speed, weapon damage, fire rate, and a special weapon duration. Some of these items can be purchased from a shop operated by a cute cat that fell down the hole with you. Among the random enemy drops and within chests are different weapon pickups of varying degrees of speed and damage. However, special weapons and items do run out after a certain amount of time, but the time does not deplete until you make your first attack.
Other items include coins that are used to purchase items, pay in mini-games, buy maps showing where to go and providing floor layouts, special magical scrolls that can you short-lived perks, runes, and special gems. Both the runes and special gems have their own benefits because if you spell out a certain rune all the enemies on-screen with instantly be vanquished and replaced with bells that give you immense scores. When collecting all the gems, the enemies will be replaced with rainbows that go for even more points.
Instead of dying right away, your character is given a temporary extra hit, fresh shield, and additional firepower until you make it to the next area. On each floor you must remove enemies before continuing and you are encouraged to clear rooms as quickly as possible. If you linger around too long unkillable enemies will begin to come through the walls and while they’re not particularly fast-moving, they do fire projectiles.
There’s a semblance of choice when journeying through the cave with multiple pathways to take throughout the floors. If you’re fortunate enough o pick up a map early on, you’ll be able to more effectively plot out your journey, avoiding more of the difficult rooms while making your way more towards the shops and mini-game rooms. The more challenging rooms though, do drop better items and more cash, so it’s a risk and reward system in that regard.
The mini-game rooms allow you to play a short and simple arcade game for ten coins. Your goal is to collect as many coins and pieces of food as you can before a giant grinder catches up with you. Later on down the line, you will have to bypass enemies that can kill you with one hit as well. If you do die though, you can try again for another ten coins. it should be noted that when you do complete an arcade level, you can’t play it again until you find another room on the same or next floor.
Sound design is done well, with the clanging of metal and attack sound effects providing a more authentic retro experience. Unfortunately, the music is only decent, with no memorable tracks keeping in your head. It’s more ambient than anything, which doesn’t really fit the art style of Iron Crypticle. The graphics are simple, and while the may look retro they appear modern as well with well done animations for even how small the characters and enemies are.
Like mentioned before, Iron Crypticle is rogue-like in nature and if you die you go straight back to the beginning. The further you get the more special weapons and items you can unlock which can make other playthroughs somewhat easier. You can also play in co-op with up to three other players which brought back the golden age of arcade bliss playing with your friends.
Like all good rogue-likes, the floor layouts change each playthrough and additionally you don’t fight a linear set of bosses with them being randomized and sometimes stronger. After defeating a boss, you’ll have a ton of food and items that can be picked up, as well as a piece of the king’s stolen gold possession. Another neat addition was the option to check out Iron Crypticle item ledger with each weapon, item and enemy you encounter being added with brief little descriptions of each.
Overall, Iron Crypticle is a fun and enjoyable twin-stick shooter that will have you reliving the days of arcade action. While things may seem simple at first, I managed to really love the gameplay and shooting mechanics and how well it just controlled. This is one of the better shooters to grace the Switch and for the price it’s a great idea to get some friends together and go dungeon crawling in Iron Crypticle.
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