I’m a huge fan of Tikipod games. Titles like Rock Boshers DX and Aqua Kitty are retro “inspired”, but still somehow feels like a modern game when playing. So, my hopes were pretty high when starting this one.
Iron Crypticle is an updated and upgraded version of the PC game, Iron Fisticle that originally released in 2014. It’s a top-down dual-stick shooter inspired by games of the past (think Gauntlet and Smash TV). Although, there’s not much story involved after the intro. The game takes place in Cryptonia and unfortunately, the Royal Treasures have been stolen. So, the King forces his knights to get suited up and head to the ancient palace crypts to go find his riches.
Iron Crypticle throws you into the action right away. There’s not much hand holding going on. The game takes place on one screen as you are met with waves of enemies and deadly traps in a single room. You’ll need to clear out each room before time expires. Once that happens, you’ll need to dodge these invincible monsters that walk around trying to push you out. Once one room is cleared, it’s onto the next. Each floor has anywhere from 20 to 25 rooms with a boss at the end. You can choose which way to go by picking which door to walk out after you’ve cleared a room.
Every game is different from the last depending on how you play. Ultimately, you’ll want to get to the boss as fast as possible, but there’s also shops and mini-games that you could possibly miss. The catch is that you can only see one room ahead of you at a time, so you’ll have to strategize on the fly.
The game has some roguelike elements to it. The more you play, the more you will unlock. This really opens up the game later on. Unfortunately, this is where some will be put off. Iron Crypticle is tough. Damn tough at times. It was taking everything I had to make it through the first floor and the boss without using all my continues. By the second floor, I was usually running on my last live. So, you end up playing the first floor over and over and over. Depending on the route you take, each floor can take a good 15 minutes or more. It would have been nice to have seen some sort of save system in between floors or something.
Even with all the grinding, I still had a blast with Iron Crypticle. The controls work well and the visuals made me feel like a kid again back at the old bowling alley where I played the hell out of older classics like Gauntlet. There’s a ton of stuff to unlock and it’s a high-score chaser’s dream with it heavily focusing on combos! The 4-player co-op would have been really cool to check out if I had any friends, but unfortunately it was single player the whole way through for me. If you’re a fan of dual-stick shooters, Iron Crypticle is a no-brainer. It’s frantic, frustrating, but most of all, fun!