Hands-on With Award Winning Horror Game Cryptmaster at PAX East 2024

Do you remember those old Goosebumps books as a kid, or perhaps the show Tales From the Crypt? Maybe you’ve played a tabletop RPG like D&D or DCC? Well, there’s a game coming to Steam that invokes the feelings of those old horror classics. It features a dungeon master like Lich similar to The Cryptkeeper from the cult horror show Tales From the Crypt. Dubbed with the title Cryptmaster comes a horror RPG from Paul Hart and Lee Williams, published by Akupara Games. Williams voices the lich to whom you can type out a wide variety of responses that he will respond to.

Performing actions such as opening chests will prompt you to ask for clues provided by the Cryptmaster to guess what’s in it. If you guess correctly, you receive a word filled with letters that will give you further hints at abilities your party of four can unlock. The player can type words that fill spaces next to each character’s portrait to “level them up” with more abilities and attacks you can use in battle. 

Cryptmaster has this handy menu for you to reference words you've discovered.
There’s this handy menu for you to reference actions you’ve discovered.

Cryptmaster Brings Classic Horror to Your Fingertips

Cryptmaster brings two different types of combat, real-time, and turn-based combat. I demoed the game with real-time combat at Akupara’s booth at PAX East 2024. Starting in a dark space, the fully-voiced lich greeted me and asked how I was doing. Being the dude I am, I responded “Chill”, however, that word did not seem to be in the Cryptmaster’s vocabulary. He asked me what I meant, and before I could respond he claimed he didn’t care. I was then led onto the dark dungeons home to this game. Typing the names of dead adventurers, I summoned the four party members I’d bring on my journey. Joro the warrior, Syn the thief, Maz the bard, and Nix the Sea witch, rose from the dead to accompany me.

Typing each action and using the arrow keys to move around reminded me of the old “Typing of the Dead” series where you had to type to attack monsters. It’s similar here, when encountering a creature you can fight, you type out what abilities you have unlocked to do damage. Killing them rewards you with letters to give you further hints to unlock even more abilities. They are displayed on the bottom of the screen with blank spaces that will fill up as you open more chests and defeat more monsters.

A Lich Is Your Guide in This Horror Adventure

Opening a chest or box had the lich directing me to ask for hints as to what it was. Like a DM being the eyes of the player, the Crypmaster lich described each item to me. Guessing a helmet correctly, I was rewarded with matching letters to the blank spaces by each character. Like playing a game of Hangman or Wheel of Fortune, I had to guess my first ability.

Cryptmaster has you asking for clues as to what is in a chest instead of just giving rewards to you.
Cryptmaster has you asking for clues as to what is in a chest instead of just giving rewards to you.

Displayed next to Joro, was three-letter word starting with an H. Guessing the word to be “Hit”, I was rewarded with the ability to smack enemies around with Joro. Every time I typed “hit”, Joro would swing, followed by a cooldown before I could command Joro again. I found that this was the same for each character’s abilities.

A Dungeon Crawler So Unique They Gave Them an Award

The characters I came across in the demo were few, but they included an overly virtuous spirit possessing a shrine, and a guardian to a large door. By desecrating the shrine, and gathering the lich’s soulstone. I was able to trick the guardian into thinking I was “alive”. As he mentioned he only let living beings pass. The object of this game explained to me by the lich was to get his soulstone out of the crypt. After answering some trials for the guardian, I was allowed through. The demo faded to black, and I was returned to the main menu. 

Real time combat and turn based combat are options in Cryptmaster
Real-time combat and turn-based combat are options in Cryptmaster.

Releasing on May 9th, Cryptmaster has already won an award at the Independent Games Festival for Excellence in Design. Citing its unique gameplay by typing each word to perform every action. Narrated by the lich, Cryptmaster has a large library of words it’s programmed to respond to. This is certainly one of the most unique experiences for a game I’ve had in years. With its old-school black-and-white horror classics, I’m looking forward to playing Cryptmaster on release.


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