Cryptmaster Review – Word Up!

I’m confident that close to everyone reading this has played Wordle before. And if you somehow haven’t, then you might’ve played Hangman as a child, or maybe at least done a crossword puzzle when you were bored. Whatever it is, word games are, I think, a pretty universally enjoyed phenomenon that maybe isn’t always given the credit it deserves. They might be simple, but they’re also very fun. Cryptmaster, developed by Paul Hart, Lee Williams, and Akupara Games, who are also publishing the title, is a dungeon crawler in which you discover a mysterious crypt, collect loot, and fight enemies, but in reality it’s just a big word game.

A powerful necromancer called the Cryptmaster resurrects four dead heroes and makes them carry the Soulstone through the layers of this underworld to get to the surface. What’s the Soulstone? What’s the Cryptmaster’s true goal? What’s the past of the four resurrected heroes? Those questions and many more will be answered as you uncover the crypt and its many layers, and more importantly, guess word after word like the national crossword puzzle champ.

What word is he looking for?

The rooms have a tile-based structure to them, and as such, you move through them step by step, always forward. They’re entirely black and white and look like they’ve been scribbled together with a simple pencil in a scrapbook (albeit by a rather talented person). You might expect me to tell you about the oppressive atmosphere this creates with death looming right over your shoulder at any moment, but Cryptmaster actually has a rather lighthearted and comedic tone and, as such, is more interested in the aesthetics of charming imperfections than anything else. Dialogue is a big part of the game; after all, words are the entire focus of it, and it nails the comedy. While not laugh out loud funny, the dry delivery of every line is consistently amusing at the very least. And frequently, Cryptmaster plays with the expectations one might have for a game like this in sometimes more and sometimes less clever ways.

As you explore the environments, you will inevitably run into enemies that you can fight by slinging words at them to make your heroes attack, block, or do whatever else they remember to know how to do. You will also find chests that you can open, at which point the Cryptmaster will take a good look at what’s inside and give you hints on your request. You might want to ask him how the item feels, how it tastes, if he has any memories related to it. And based on the information he gives you, you have to guess the right word. Or maybe you come across the little skull shrines that will give you riddles to which you have to answer the right word they’re looking for. While these are all entertaining minigames, they all serve the same purpose. You see, at any given point in Cryptmaster, you’re playing a game of hangman with all four of your heroes, each of whom is looking for a word. At any time you solve a riddle, identify an item in a chest, or defeat an enemy, letters from the solution are added to the words you’re currently looking for, should they exist within those words. And if you’ve figured any of them out, you unlock more abilities for your heroes or more backstory for them, and a new game of hangman is started.

The pen is mightier than the sword or something

Not to be overly reductive, but as mentioned in the opening, that’s really what Cryptmaster is: a series of word games that make way for more word games, all of it enveloped in the skin of a dungeon-crawling fantasy game about a necromancer and his four lackeys. But this is in no way meant as an insult. Like Wordle, Hangman, or crossword puzzles, Cryptmaster might be a simple game at heart, but it is thoroughly entertaining the whole way through and has enough flashy aesthetics and funny dialogue to make it a memorable standout experience in one of gaming’s most underappreciated subgenres, the word game.

Nairon played Cryptmaster on PC with a review code.

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