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Game Maker Games - The Crypts of Despair
 The Crypts of Despair by JTR (Alias Jack Swift)
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Review by Jabberwock
I never thought I'd be saying something like this about a game with a name like "The Crypts of Despair," but here it is: The Crypts of Despair is one the best video gaming experiences I've had in a while. You could probably chalk this up to my lack of such luxuries as, say, money, and my consequent lack of any "real" games to play. Even so, though, you might find this game to be more worthwhile than it looks.

The author describes this as a "light Rogue-like" game. I'd say that's pretty accurate. If you don't know what Rogue is, I'll just tell you that it's probably one of those things you'll either hate or love. It's an old dungeon crawling sort of game, where you (appropriately) crawl through dungeons discovering treasure and fighting monsters and... well, that's really it. I happen to love it, I guess because I spent quite a few of my earlier days playing Ultima I on an unfathomably crappy computer, my one salvation from boredom while stranded at my grandparents' house - a game that I would later shatteringly learn was a ripoff (in some ways, at least) of said game, Rogue. But I digress.

This game follows the formula pretty closely; you descend through a series of randomly generated dungeons, finding treasures and potions along the way to help you out. Basically, the longer you survive and the more stuff you kill, the higher your score. Simple, right? The gameplay is pretty much turn-based, in that stuff only moves when you move, so you can play as ponderously or as brashly as you see fit. The game is really pretty strategic; you have Food that gets used up with every step, thus you can't be willy-nilly with your movements (in theory, at least; I ended the game with some 2000 Food, but whatever), and the equipment you decide to buy at the beginning of the game seriously effects what your character can do. There are quite a few types of monsters, all with distinct characteristics - hard to hit, easy to hit, tough, weak, do a lot of damage, etc. The gameplay is well-balanced, and the difficulty curve is perfect. It's really marvelous retro fun.

The graphics are enormously pixellated and altogether a pretty accurate reproduction of what such a game would look like in dinosaurian MS-DOS glory. (There are probably some colors in the pallate that you couldn't get in DOS, but I won't nitpick.) There are also some really awesome PC-speakerish noises. It's all so perfectly presented... except for that default message box! I hate hate HATE that thing. What a way to bring down an otherwise nearly-perfect game. It's still very good, but it doesn't feel really authentic with that thing in there. It seems sort of cheap and lazy, and it makes me a little sad. Ah well.

Still, that's seriously the only complaint I have about this game. It's error-free, reassuringly plotless, and a whole bunch of fun. Download it.

Download The Crypts of Despair (EXE, ~1.2 MB , Suitable for everyone )

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Opinions about The Crypts of Despair
engaging
100%
artistic
100%
original
0%
strange
0%
challenging
100%
polished
100%
compelling
100%

Overall: recommended

Recommendations: The 6 people who like The Crypts of Despair also like the following games.
Comments (Add your own):
2008.05.24 LordMetroid
Rating: 8

How did I get poisoned EVERY TIME I picked up a potion?! The frog poison accually made me laugh, and I was sad when it wore off.

This is a really fun game. It's even funner when I know what I'm doing. ;)
2008.01.07 ViciousTurtleGames
Rating: 8

I am a HUGE RPG fan and this game was food for my soul. The single sound (a bleep) and the pixel-tastic graphics made me enjoy this game a lot. I may not be old enough to have played Gauntlet when it came out, but I have a place in my heart for classics like this.
Aside from giving a great retro feel, the gameplay is solid yet simplistic. This might not appeal to everyone, but it is a must play for fans of classic dungeon crawlers.
2007.10.23 Xitilon
Rating: 9

Certainly well-made. Played it a lot and I'm rather impressed with gameplay, balance and stuff. Online scoring is something worth mentioning, by the way. There are few things that could be done better - for example the received damage calculation (goes wrong when attacked by 2 or more enemies). Sprites're quite retro, with only black&white (and 4-color) graphics and ASCII art being older than that.

Any updates planned, eh?

And on top of that... I'm impressed so much I've started to make my own kind-of-Rogue-like game with GM.
2007.10.14 Majs
Rating: --

Pretty awesome, had me hooked until I died. :P Graphics and sounds are very cool, fullscreen + res change would hade increased the greatness though.
2007.10.14 Toasterofdoom
Rating: 8

I agree with both of you guys.
2007.10.04 beam
Rating: 9

The Crypts of Despair is one of the most addicting games I have played in a long time. I have always been a fan of roguelikes, and this doesn't let me down at all. Of course, this is a simplified one, but it plays just the same. Explore a dungeon, slay monsters, find weapons and armor, test your luck with unidentified potions. It's all here. Crypts of Despair definitely isn't a stripped-down dungeon hack, it is quite full-featured. It is just simplified for instant gratification. A fully deserved 9 from me.
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