Dark Crypt Review: Don’t Be Consumed By Your Foolish Moves

Think you've got the moves to run through a dungeon full of multiple floors and 'orrible things that want to hurt you? Here's a Dark Crypt review for your eyeballs.

The term indie gets thrown about as much as punches in a Star Wars and Star Trek convention double-booked the same time there’s a Harry Potter festival on, but Dark Crypt defines indie for me.

Fiendishly devised by Daisy Games, you play as a priest that has to descend through six floors of self-contained levels, avoiding all manner of skellywags, bloodsuckers, and sharp pointy things, armed only with your faith (and a pretty helpful teleportation technique).

Movement in Dark Crypt is entirely turn-based but a style that flows and not one that you need to wait your turn. That said, a large portion of your time will be devoted to observation, watching for the patterns of your enemies, the rhythm of the traps, and like a game of chess, thinking so many moves ahead of the next one.

Dark Crypt Review (Steam)

YES! There’s no timer in the game, but all of your moves are tracked, and if you’re the competitive type, you’ll want to get your steps under par and not those numbers as per your recent doctor appointment where they told you to work off the beer belly, you need fewer steps.

Dark Crypt Review - Spike
Spike. Source: Steam

But that strategy of observation is a dangerous one and not as passive as one may think. The game ‘timer’ (I said there wasn’t one, huh?) revolves around your movements. In other words, though each character does that bouncy thing when stationary, all activity essentially pauses until you make your move.

Enemy line of sights will light up the tiles (moving one of four ways), but you’ll only be able to see their next move when you make yours. If you’re keeping a tally of being under par, maybe moving up and down isn’t going to help. Aaargghh!!! There’s so much to think about, but I like it nonetheless.

Moving

Moves are unlimited in Dark Crypt, and naturally, physically moving from one place to the other counts as a move, but so do actions such as flipping switches and teleporting. Said actions are essential for finding your way out of one of the dungeons, but a lot of the time, they’re a great way to forfeit a move, so to speak, and bypass one of the enemy patrols.

The level design in the game is excellent for the challenge as there’s no beating about the bush on what you’re supposed to do. Yeah, you do have to go all the way through those spikes, past the patrols to the far end of the stage to get a key, then head back via the same route (the timings have now changed as picking that key up cost you an action point).

Dark Crypt Review - Touching (a man of the) cloth
Touching (a man of the) cloth. Source: Steam

Fortunately, by the graces of a higher power – in this case, the developer and not the protagonist’s God – you can undo moves without penalty. This is a fantastic addition as you will make mistakes, and perhaps in a flukey way, that one move may cost you the stage. Going back one step is fabulous.

Hop, Skip And An Impaling

But if you really struggle, you can skip any level through to the next. As is often the case, some of the harder levels can be easier than the one you’re stuck on, but you’re always free to go back and forth to retry. Note that the penalty here is not progression, but if you want all the achievements (good luck with that), you can’t skip the levels.

Hands up, I did check if anyone made a guide yet as I frequently got stuck. Fortunately, I didn’t find one as that would have spoiled this Dark Crypt review, and I would have falsely said it’s easy. It’s not. At least for me, and I’m sure there will be people who find it easy. Swines. Still, that challenge is, in some ways, the appeal of the game as it is a strategy game, not a typical dungeon crawler.

After loading Dark Crypt on Steam, I briefly regretted covering it as I thought it would be similar to that Cadence of Hyrule. I wanted to like it, but I have no rhythm and thus struggled. Though your movement and actions are turn-based and resemble those mechanics, it’s not a rhythm game in the slightest, and I’ve been enjoying my time with Dark Crypt after those first initial minutes.

Dark Crypt Review - Dungeon master
Dungeon master. Source: Steam

Cryptic

Wait: I’ve been enjoying my time with it – that means I’m still playing it? That’s right. While the skip option is brilliant and halts any discouragement in bailing, I want to finish the levels myself. Still, more crucially – it’s enjoyable to solve a puzzle because essentially, that’s what Dark Crypt is: a puzzle game.

If I were a streamer, the only audience I’d achieve would be those in mockery laughing at how I play some games. This would be one of them as I’d forfeit a stage or two by running back and forth within the area of a small square to master the patterns of the traps and enemies, then execute my plan.

66 moves later, and when the par is something like 24, I immediately go back and shave off maybe 10 moves, then play another level, come back and reduce it some more. That sort of longevity and marginal gain is something that appeals to me, especially for indie games where it’s usually only a handful of people, or even an individual, that has poured their blood, sweat and tears into something as engaging as this. 

Well, for Daisy Games, they can go fill back up on fluids, put their feet up and watch all the guinea pigs do the same as they fumble their way through the dungeons in Dark Crypt. Go check it out for yourself – it’s a thumbs up from me.