Looking at Crypt of the Serpent King for the first time, I knew I shouldn’t expect too terribly much. After seeing the game’s super simple menus, I started to get an idea of what I was in for. This simplicity is also present throughout all of the visuals in the game. The enemy models are all the same and don’t have a whole lot of detail, which makes fighting them that much more monotonous. These enemies will be found randomly throughout the game’s seven procedurally generated levels. Unfortunately, these levels all suffer from boring, samey textures that make each level simply look flat and lifeless.
To match the basic visuals, each level sports some very obnoxious sound effects and what I suppose is supposed to be music that occasionally gets loud for no reason. Each level has a unique sound, but each of them sounds just as bad as every other one. I wish I could say the level design made up for some of these shortcomings, but there simply isn’t enough diversity in the rooms in each level to make them fun to explore. Each level asks players to collect a number of keys to unlock the boss gate, which are always found in the same type of rooms that require players to jump onto an island in the center. This seems like an easy enough task but is made super difficult since the game controls so awful. More of my deaths came from these rooms than from any monsters. Besides keys and monsters, the levels have chests spread out throughout them that can hold various items including health potions, arrows (if you have a bow), or gold.
The gold and XP (from defeating monsters) earned from the levels can be used to upgrade the player character. The XP is used to upgrade either damage done by weapons, damage taken from enemies or walking speed/attack speed. Gold is used to buy either melee weapons or one of the two bows (which are the most expensive weapons). If a player is smart with their gold, they will buy one melee weapon and stick with it, only saving their gold to buy a bow for the final levels. Played this way, gold quickly becomes completely pointless as buying other melee weapons does the player no good. Besides the gold being pointless, many of the weapons are useless compared to the two best melee weapons.
In the end, it almost doesn’t matter what weapon a player uses as the combat in the game can be boiled down to a single, simple tactic: circle-strafe. While fighting any enemy in the game, a player can simply walk to the right (or left!) and attack the enemy after they’ve attacked. Since there is no blocking, dodging, or any other slightly complicated combat techniques, fighting enemies becomes a boring event that requires more patience than skill. Top this all off with simple A.I. that doesn’t even try to do anything besides attack every few seconds.
I could forgive the simplicity of all the other aspects of the game if it could pull it all together with a gripping story or any sort of character development. This is simply not true as there is not really a plot or any storytelling in the whole game. At the end of the game, there is a small congratulatory message that doesn’t add anything to the game. Without any story or engaging gameplay, Crypt of the Serpent King simply isn’t worth the time. After trying to find anything redeeming in the game over the course of several hours, I just found that I was forcing myself through each minute of gameplay and that I couldn’t keep playing the game. If more care and quality standard was brought to the game, it could be fun for a little bit. As it stands now, the game feels nearly unplayable.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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