Jumping Is Key In Crypt of the Serpent King

With a new 4K chassis, Crypt of the Serpent King gets a remastering for the PS5. Here's what I think of the dungeon crawler.

Never have I endured such sarcasm from one of my kids while playing a review title. That game in question was Crypt of the Serpent King, as it’s been remastered in 4K and released by Eastasiasoft. That venomous wit she unleashed comes from the repetitive element.

At the start of the game, you’ll be asked which difficulty level you want to begin with, then head off into a series of dungeons to collect a bunch of keys to battle a boss, then unlock a new level to crawl, all the while fighting off enemies that are the same throughout each of the seven stages.

My first attempt with Crypt of the Serpent King was short-lived, only clocking in about two minutes of play as I died falling into lava. I don’t know about you, but I often struggle with first-person jumping (see Escape From Nakara) and melee attacks. This game was no different. Unfazed, I respawned and fortunately did not repeat the same mistake. Well, that’s a lie. The last level and penultimate one cost me quite a few turns.

Crypt of the Serpent King release date
Source: Eastasiasoft

Combat was a little expected. You begin the game with a hatchet with about as much range as a spoon. The strategy you’ll apply? Locate an enemy, move in, wait for them to swing, step back, move in, attack a couple of times (depending on your weapon and stats). It’s pretty underwhelming. 

However, you’re rewarded with your endeavours through XP to increase stats such as strength (melee power), how much health you’ll lose, and how fast you’ll attack. As a knucklehead, the strength stat is a no-brainer, but I opted for the latter, and it drastically improved my game, thus allowing for faster kills, more XP and, therefore, OP until fighting the snakes on the last level. There’s a level cap for stats. Gold can be found in chests to purchase weapons, and there will be health and arrows.

My first investment was the halberd, purely because of the reach, but the combat was very much the same: move in, move out, move back in and attack. This was when my daughter felt compelled to give me a running commentary in the most sarcastic tone. “Oh, you’re going to walk around another corner, find another chest, then fight the same bad guy in a row? This is incredibly boring to watch”. She didn’t seem to hold back.

I concur with the sentiment: Crypt of the Serpent King is incredibly repetitive, uses the same assets despite being procedurally generated(?), and, depending on the difficulty and your stats, pretty damn easy. But do you know what? I enjoyed it, and like a lot of these games like Paperclip SimulatorPlug Simulator, and any other ‘unique IP’ that encourages players to rinse and repeat endlessly, it moved at a decent pace.

Crypt of the Serpent King doesn’t break the bank as it’s cheaper than most DLC, beer, and about half the price of a gaming mag that will no doubt slate it for being monotonous, using words with three syllables, anecdotes about how the writer is a real gamer, and forgetting why a lot of us play games in the first place: fun, escapism, and to keep out of mischief.

What I didn’t like about the game, and may even go full out and say hate, was the jumping. Besides killing all the enemies (optional but makes sense to remove them), you must collect keys by jumping over lava, spike, lava spikes and what-not. It’s easy to make stupid mistakes and, after a 15-minute run killing everything, fall in a pit and have to restart. It happened a lot towards the end, not through difficult jumps, but the frustration in trying to finish.

The offending level of Crypt of the Serpent King featured approximately 30 snakes appearing out of the dark and requiring more hits than any other enemy. As my character was maxed out, I was disappointed to see that these things hit hard. Before, the enemies (as well as the bosses), didn’t offer much challenge, but the last level ups the stakes. It doesn’t help that I died a handful of times with those bloody jumps, either.

It isn’t a game I can actively recommend because I see how many people will get bored in the first five minutes. But honestly? It played its part as relatively fun, some escapism and kept me out of mischief. Save yourself the money on the mag; you could buy this and some sweets to go with it. If you don’t mind seeing the same faces, doing the same actions repeatedly, and learning how to take your time when jumping.