[dropcap size=big]I[/dropcap]f you’ve been keeping an eye on Kickstarter for the past few years then perhaps Crystal Catacombs is a familiar name to you. It was way back in 2011 when developer Maxwell Jensen tried, but ultimately failed, to raise funds for the game. Of course, just because one campaign doesn’t make it on Kickstarter does not mean it’s time to throw in the towel. A year later Crystal Catacombs was back seeking crowdfunding and succeeded. In fact, it raised more than double the goal (and more than the original campaign’s goal had asked as well)!
Crystal Catacombs is self-described as a Megavanian (Megaman meets Castlevania) game with heavy roguelike influences. What this boils down to is a 2D platformer with five randomized levels, collectable items each stage, and a very painful difficulty. Although that may not sound incredible, the game does a lot to make itself an engaging experience. In particular I had a hilarious start to the game. Upon starting the first level I walked right, was confused by a nearby creature, and found myself killed nearly instantaneously. That’s when a Steam achievement, “Welcome to Crystal Catacombs…”, popped up. What an introduction, indeed!
If you dislike challenging games then this one will likely not change your opinion. Although there are multiple difficulty settings all are still pretty tough. The best thing about the easiest is you have access to five lives. It might sound like a lot, but they’ll go by very quickly if you’re not careful. Nearly everything in this world is dangerous. If something looks bad – it is. Armed with a measly weapon and stick-like body there’s little means of protection from swarms of enemies. Do your best to kill creatures mano a mano, although that becomes tough in later levels when things fly through walls to reach you. Your goal in every stage is to find the way out! Of course, no monster around wants to let that happen. Spiders, bats, gelatinous blobs, ghosts, and more all are out to get you.
Some folks out there feel that pixel art is more than played out at this point. With that said, Crystal Catacombs manages to offer a pixelated game with incredible style. From the intro visuals of a purple pyramid to unique color palettes per stage, it just looks really cool. The game’s soundtrack fits with the vibe as well, helping to create an overall positive experience. Well, it’s as positive as it can be considering the constant deaths you’ll be facing. Sometimes the art is a tad unclear, though, and things like trap switches don’t stand out as much as they should considering walking over them can be deadly.
In all, Crystal Catacombs provides a difficult, but rewarding journey which will be enjoyed most by fans of challenging retro-styled gameplay. It is not as in depth as some other modern roguelikes but there is definitely worth in simplistic titles alongside these. If you’re looking for a tough game to become skilled at then Crystal Catacombs should be added to your list. In comparison to others out there it’s even a tad cheaper at $7.99.