When I first strapped in to play KryptCrawler from CrazyBunch and Headup Games at this years PAX East, I was a bit apprehensive. For one, I’ve never played a dungeon crawler in virtual reality, and while I love the genre, I was still curious as to how it would translate in a virtual reality setting. Plus, I was left a bit hesitant because I was playing the game on the Samsung GearVR, a device that’s under-powered compared to its PC-based Rift counterpart. After completing the brief demo though, I can safely say that both the game and the headset had me leaving more than satisfied.
For the few that might be unaware, dungeon crawlers have been around for a long time in gaming, and while there have been some attempts at recreating the genre in VR with promising titles on the way, it hasn’t yet found its footing in the virtual world. KryptCrawler aims to change that by bringing a bit of an updated take on a very old concept. The game’s official announcement release reads as follows:
“Descend into the unknown and explore the perilous depth of the sinister tombs and crypts you are thrown into, armed with nothing but a map and your wits. Find powerful weapons and wield mighty artifacts to fight off the undead remains of the warriors who have come here before you. Defend yourself against poisonous scorpions, hungry spiders and other creatures of the dark.”
For those who remember games like Might & Magic (or The Mage’s Tale, an upcoming VR title from inXile, one of the prominent devs with vast experience in the space), you might be familiar with grid based dungeon crawlers, but if not, you’re essentially a player in a dungeon that’s on a grid. You can move one space at a time and will have to make your way through the dungeon, gathering items, fighting monsters, and solving puzzles along the way. KryptCrawler operates in a similar manner to the classic dungeon crawler experience, allowing you to look around the world in 360 degrees while also moving throughout a dungeon.
According to CrazyBunch (the developers for the title), the game will feature 12 levels that make up the games story but will include “over 100 procedurally generated New Game + levels”. The grid based dungeon system worked extremely well, and I have to wonder if the reason more dungeon crawlers don’t exist for virtual reality is due to the fact that movement is so integral. KryptCrawler has seemed to find a way to sidestep that, and done it in a great way.
With the GearVR, it was surprisingly easy to navigate the labyrinth, with simple swipes and taps on the headset moving me around and acting as my action button, respectively. It was relieving to see that there is no hindrance should you choose to play it on your mobile-based Gear VR instead of a more high end device like the Oculus Rift.
Despite only playing on what is essentially a cell phone, KryptCrawler was actually a really immersive game. There was no light bleeding occurring during my play through and I even found I had turned myself completely around and nearly shuffled off away from the booth where the game was once I was done. The dungeon environments didn’t look all that bad considering the platform, and even combat – which was done simply by tapping the headset on its side – was responsive and easy to accomplish.
The demo, which only lasted about 20 minutes, was fairly straight forward. I was stuck in a dungeon and had to navigate my way through. As I moved deeper into the dungeon, I was treated to some of the game’s puzzles, including one pretty enjoyable one that involved timing your bow and arrow shot with collapsing spiked traps. The enemies in the game were your standard, boilerplate dungeon-y villains; skeletons and toxic spiders were often thrown my way, and while the combat was nothing more than a game of “swing until they die”, it’s certainly not what someone seeking a fun dungeon crawler would come for.
Before I put on the GearVR to play KryptCrawler, I didn’t really know what to expect. Movement in VR is a tricky thing to master, and if done wrong can end up really wrecking a player’s experience. However, once I had made it out of the dungeon, I was 100% ready to dive right back in. While the game is probably more enjoyable on the Oculus Rift, players who don’t have access to one but still want to play a truly fun dungeon crawler would be silly to pass this one up.
KryptCrawler releases for the Samsung GearVR and Oculus Rift sometime this summer.
Anthony Nash is a freelance contributor to UploadVR. When he’s not exploring dungeons in VR games, he tends to explore them in non-VR games. Follow him on Twitter for more.