Tuesday, February 19

Review: Iron Crypticle [Nintendo Switch eShop]

If you’ve read a fair number of my reviews you’ll probably know that I’m a pretty massive fan of quality arcade-style twin-stick shooters. These come in a variety of styles and degrees of intensity but as a whole I love shooting things up. The great news is that people like me already have a substantial number of viable options in the genre already on Switch, the tougher news is then for devs trying to get noticed.

Pretty well right out of the gate Iron Crypticle made a positive impression on me and it only got better from there. At its base it looks terrific and plays very fluidly, though perhaps a hair slower by default than I generally would prefer. The focus is almost constantly on collecting power-ups, most critically ones that give you different firepower since your default axe is a bit on the slow side, but also food and other items that maintain your multiplier and help keep your level-ups and score rolling. The ability to team up with up to 3 of your friends is also a great choice but whether solo or in a group everything here works nicely. While there’s always the choice of a more traditional Endless variant (with an option of Easy, Normal, or Hard) it’s the game’s default mode that really helps set it apart.

You’ll always start out with a map showing you a variety of directions you’ll be able to move to as you complete each stage. As you proceed you’ll be able to see special levels ahead of you on the path and can be sure to move in their direction, depending on what sort of benefit or challenge you may be interested in. There’s a shop, which is always great if you’ve got enough gold, graveyard and mausoleum stages that amp up the challenge a bit but can also offer greater rewards, but also a special arcade level I always loved to shoot for. For a fee of 10 coins you’ll be able to take on an old-school side-scrolling mini game where you’ll need to carefully avoid traps and obstacles to walk away with bonus gold and points. These can get tough but they’re also great fun.

For the most part my qualms with the game are limited, and more a matter of taste, but the almost RPG-like quality of the main mode pretty well shoves those concerns aside. This is a very smart and well-made title that has found a way to distinguish itself both with its 16-bit visuals and its unique gameplay hook. While Iron Crypticle may not be the fastest or flashiest twin-stick shooter on the Switch its launch budget price and pretty outstanding overall quality nonetheless make it easy for me to recommend with confidence to genre fans.

Score: 8.5

  • An almost RPG-like standard mode that gives you choices in how to proceed and manage your risk
  • Great base mechanics and an emphasis on keeping your multiplier going
  • Scalable difficulty helps make it approachable even to less experienced players, potentially important if you're playing with friends

  • By default the play is a tad slower than I’d prefer
  • In areas like the graveyard and mausoleum the level of darkness can make it tough to see in handheld mode
  • Some boss variants you’ll run into are simply much tougher than others, making those encounters a bit of a wild card