Plenty of secrets, wonderful pixel art and interesting puzzles were enough to get me interested in playing Courier of the Crypts. It’s a game that puts you in control of a young boy in his first day at his new job as a courier, although almost immediately you’ll be thrown into a dark and dangerous crypt, with only your torch as your aid. As you traverse you’ll pick up rocks to help you fend off enemies, as well, but the torch is your most useful tool. Without it, enemies will seek you out to kill you and you won’t be able to see anything.
It’s still in early access – in fact, the version I played was version 0.01 – so it’s still incomplete and as such difficult to judge it entirely, but it’s definitely laid down some good groundwork. There’s a lot about this game that’s positive, and calling it incomplete is probably not being entirely fair to the game. You’ll be able to get a good few hours of game play out of it, especially as you try to locate all the different relics and secrets scattered about each map. While gathering them isn’t essential for progression, you’ll feel as if you’ve really accomplished something if you manage to explore every nook and cranny of each expertly designed level. You’ll have to overcome a number of enemies and bosses, each of which has their own unique reason to be fearful of them. Some enemies are scared of your torch and will try to spit a cobweb at you to put it out, which will then call all of the other enemies near you to overwhelm you if you’re not quick enough with relighting it. Others will spit globs of goo or fire at you and you’ll have to find other ways around them in order to complete the levels. It’s always a challenge, although never crossing into the impossible territory for any task.
The main selling point that Courier of the Crypts has is the phenomenal artistry throughout. You may think it’s difficult to create such wondrous areas in an 8-bit format, but you couldn’t be more wrong, and Emberheart Games will certainly change your opinions. Even though the game is set in dungeons where light is hard to come by, everything looks incredible. It really helps set the bleak scene for the protagonist, especially as your lamp runs out of oil and you’re stuck walking into walls until you manage to find some torches along the wall or a well to refill your oil. You can really get the feeling of impending doom as your torch starts to fade and it makes the game so much fun to play, knowing that if you don’t make it to the next safe area you could find yourself trapped in a sea of murderous spiders.
Courier of the Crypts is definitely something worth keeping an eye on. The only real issues I encountered while playing was a few translation issues, but these are certainly forgivable as the game is still in its infancy. With the way the game looks and plays, it’s certainly going to be one of the better indie games this year and well worth picking up.