Killer Crypt ($1.00) is an ‘old school platformer’. For the uninitiated, that basically means a few reusable mechanics (mostly jumping), a colorful palette of enemies and environments, and frequent, knuckle-gnawing moments of difficulty. To some, that synopsis evokes a warm, fuzzy childhood full of generic platformers. To the rest, it’s a sentiment from a bygone era that’s really better if left extinct.
Our hooded hero is off to slay a vampire, and that’s all the story you’re going to get. Tracing its lineage to classics like Mario and Castlevania, the game borrows some of the best bits from each. Most of the enemies can be head-stomped, and coin collection pays off two-fold here, both as a toll to unlock passageways and earn additional lives (every 100 coins, natch). Temporary items found within the levels, like an axe or daggers, gives you a ranged attack that’s invaluable in taking down the extremely resilient (read: pain in the ass) bosses.
‘Old school’ rears its head in the form of limited health (three hits and you’re done) and lives, with a host of navigational tricks up its sleeve to derail you. Disappearing, reappearing, and invisible platforms aplenty, to go along with an equal amount of timed switches and jumps. It’s a setup that feels familiar thanks to its admitted heritage, that wants to reward you for exploration (hidden relics are required to get the true ending) and skillful maneuvering.
Hey, buddy, what’s with givin’ me the bug eye?
The retro difficulty, on the other hand, is something you either learn to appreciate, or will end up slowly driving you mad. At first, the challenge is used to make you aware of varying enemy types and level design; what enemies can be ‘bopped’, say, or how to cross a pit of spikes without taking damage. It has the best intentions, namely to make you a better player while instilling a sense of accomplishment, at the cost of your stockpile of player lives and patience. Even with the decent level checkpoint system, a lot of people may find themselves replaying the same stretch of stage over and over. Particularly near the end of the game, it can become a perfect storm of frustration.
That focus on timing / placement, and the repeated deaths involved, will ultimately determine your take on Killer Crypt. It controls well enough, and follows the platformer recipe to the letter. Much like The Last Fortune before it, there’s no shortage of challenge. If you favor the road that’s safer traveled, though, it’s best not to disturb this crypt.