Crypt of the Serpent King is a first-person dungeon crawling, hack n’ slash game from Rendercode Studios. Players navigate seven randomly generated levels, killing monsters, collecting gold and keys in an effort to unlock the lower floor of each level to take on the boss.
Visually, the game feels like an N64 game rushed to be on the original Xbox. Each level has a different theme, including a dungeon and a castle, but besides from the skin and in an introduction to pointless doors in the final level, they all feel the same. Enemies all share a collection of bizarre, staggered animations that make them look more like awkward dawdling puppets, than fierce threats.
Combat, being a main focus of the game, feels unenthusiastic, to say the least. Rather than anything remotely resembling fluid combat mechanics, players only need to learn the timing of the slow enemy animations. Once you have the enemy begin their attack animation you run in for the swing, backup, and do it again until they die. Harder modes follow the same idea but the challenge comes in the lack of healing items, increased amount of enemies and damage dealt.
Movement reminds me of the classic Doom controls, just a bit stiffer. The randomised dungeons only generate flat surfaces so get used to operating on a mainly 2D playing field.
The character design looks well done and takes credit for the most detailed area of this game. Other than that, it’s pretty lacklustre. Summaries of the game state “some RPG elements”, which comes in the form of three skills, health, attack, and speed, all of which can be levelled up to 10 times using XP. It’s painfully basic.
Coins are collected in each level, but the strongest weapons are easily accessible after a few runs. There is no need to worry about death, since all XP and coins collected are maintained even after you die and reset, effectively removing any challenge the game has to offer. If you can’t get past a level, just farm coins, and XP until you can afford a stronger weapon and a few skill points, rinse and repeat till you progress forward.
Now, all that said, this game is just a dollar so you can’t really expect an all-star experience for that price. Crypt of the Serpent King is an attempt at a nostalgic trip of games from our youth that simply falls short due to lazy game design, piggy-backing on troupes of other games that developers have seen in passing. Coming from a company that has been in the industry for over a decade, that has released multiple titles, we would simply expect this game to offer more.