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Crypt Stalker

Developer: Sinclair Strange

Publisher: RedDeerGames

  • Price: $6.99
  • Release Date: Mar 22, 2024
  • Number of Players: 1
  • Last on Sale: -
  • Lowest Historic Price: -
  • ESRB Rating: T [Teen]
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    A nice throwback to classic side-scrolling games, but not a terribly interesting one

    With indie games really taking hold of the Switch eShop in this generation there have absolutely been a ton of retro-styled games on the system. Aside from tapping into some nostalgia for many gamers, they’re obviously a way for smaller teams, or even solo developers, to realistically create full-blown games without the need for big budgets and loads of people. Of course, the risk they run is to then just sort of blend into the crowd, unless they can deliver something distinctive that helps them stand out. While it has some nice retro appeal, and checks most of the boxes for what you’d expect for a throwback side-scrolling action title, Crypt Stalker struggles to stand out against other indies out there which simply have more flair.

    While there’s obviously a pretty heavy Castlevania vibe going with your primary weapon being a whip, and you having a secondary attack, aside from that I’d say its influences are more eclectic. Each of the stages has its own sort of style, which helps it from getting too stale, and for the most part it performs and flows well enough, though I’d argue I’ve played other recent titles with controls that felt more agreeable overall. While it may be 8-bit inspired, I’ll at least give credit for being more colorful than your typical title from the era, and that helps to accentuate differences between each area. Finally, as you’d expect, the boss battles do tend to be satisfying as a whole, even if perhaps not revolutionary.

    In terms of the issues, thankfully I wouldn’t say there’s anything terribly egregious going on, but all the same I’d have to say it mostly feels like things I’ve done before. While I will always bemoan games that have kickback on hit, a feature from classic games I’d consider better forgotten to history, I’ll admit that’s more of a personal pet peeve than a legitimate problem. But when you throw in enemy placements that are sometimes a bit cheap to pair with it, I’ll admit that my impression of the stage design at times wasn’t a positive one, and it felt like more of an attempt to extend the play time than anything. Also, while on some level the inclusion of the handheld mode is novel, I wouldn’t say much more than that, it just ends up being an even less compelling inclusion that may be neat for a little while, but also feels like filler more than anything.

    What you have in the end is a reasonably-good indie retro game that will occupy you for a few hours if you’re feeling the itch for that style of play. I wouldn’t think it would be a terribly memorable one though, and given the abundance of titles in the same space that have really shaken things up, and done some things that were far more unexpected, it’s just hard to get very excited about. Perhaps if it were released earlier in this generation it could have raised an eyebrow, but at this point it just doesn’t make a good case for your undivided attention.

    Justin Nation, Score:
    Fair [6.9]

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