‘Cryptark’ Review: Rogue Space Shooter

Cryptark is a unique take on the classic side-scrolling, twin stick shooter. Developer Alientrap has combined some elements of the RPG and TSS, along with roguelike elements such as randomly generated stages. Players control a flying mechsuit and their character is part of a team of spaceship salvagers tasked with finding the elusive “Cryptark” ship. Legend says it contains a horde of treasures. Challenging gameplay and labyrinthine ships full of traps, security systems, and enemies await you. Plan ahead, spend your cash wisely, and choose your approach carefully. Will you blast your way to the ship core, or sneak around in the shadows cloaked?

Cryptark is tough. The level of challenge depends on how the player appropriates their cash for upgrades and how they approach the randomly designed maze of ships. If you go in guns blasting with no plan, expect to get frustrated very quickly. This is an intelligent design, that will require your problem solving skills just as much as your quick thumbs. Starting with half a million credits in the bank, players must balance this cash flow after every stage between various mechs with different abilities, health upgrades, weapons, and items. If you run out of cash and cannot complete the stage, it’s back to the beginning. This isn’t as hardcore as it seems though, as each time I started over I learned something from the last attempt. Get too greedy and you get killed.

Objectives are simple for each ship area, destroy the core. The path to said core will have all sorts of tempting rewards scattered about. Players can fly around the outside of the ship, looking for an entry point that suits them. Looking over the map is imperative, I cannot stress this enough. Sadly after a few hours and many defeats, I discovered my best plan was to find the shortest route to the core with the least amount of dangers and got to work. Choices are good, but not always needed in my case. This aspect does allow for lots of playtime if one is so inclined to take the long path and enjoys the challenge.

Graphics in Cryptark are cartoony, but also very detailed. The soundtrack was catchy and dulled down enough in the background to not be irritating. This was welcomed as I certainly didn’t want to listen to a loud party/rave while trying to plan my attack. Cryptark does include a multiplayer local co-op, but players must share everything: health, ammo, and cash. This makes the challenge actually greater with a friend, moreso if they have never played and you have. Having so many weapons to choose from in unison was a pain to learn, and I regularly would fire the wrong one or even forget I had something at my disposal. Cryptark also has a rogue mode, doing away with the budgetary aspect and forcing players to pick up weapons in the actual levels. This makes mech choice even more important. But it was nice to have a variation to the standard game.

The difficulty level of Cryptark will definitely be a factor for some players. If you don’t like your shooters complicated, you probably won’t enjoy it. For those who want a more depth and challenge, Cryptark should be enjoyable and a title I could see going back to from time to time. I think the inclusion of local co-op makes Cryptark a little misleading. I actually wish it wasn’t even included, in the form it is anyway. If the game difficulty was tweaked and both players had their own resources Cryptark could be something fun to play with friends, but in its current form, it’s just a waste. At an MSRP of only $15 USD in the PlayStation store, Cryptark is a still a great amount of content for the price, for those gamers patient enough to take it on. Suit up!

Cryptark is available now on PlayStation 4 and PC via Steam. This review is based on a PS4 review copy provided for that purpose.

out of 5

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