PC Gaming

I can’t stop telling this necromancer to eat everything I find in one of Steam Next Fest’s best demos


I'm freshly dead and being bugged by a necromancer, but I can't help but repeatedly stand among the skulls and debris and say the same thing over and over again. Horny. Horny. Horny. Horny. In a game where I'm required to type my way through a scraggly noir dungeon, I'm suddenly adopting the comedic intelligence of a teenage boy. Without thinking, my fingers skate across my keyboard to pen a real banger: Poop. The necromancer emerges, cloaking my entire screen and proceeds to monologue about my choice of language. Just the reaction my silly little goblin brain wanted.

Cryptmaster has easily been one of my favourite demos from this week's Steam Next Fest. It's a dungeon crawler where I command a party of four who've forgotten just about everything. But thanks to the power of the alphabet, I can slowly help each member regain memories of who they were and what they were good at, like one party member who can stab people or another who can yell real loud.

Cryptmaster

(Image credit: Akupara Games)

All of this fumbling around and figuring stuff out is guided by a necromancer who, after having to hear me say “horny” four times in a row, is already very sick of my shit. He remembers a hell of a lot more than my party does though, and this knowledge comes in handy for the various puzzles I encounter throughout the demo.

Walking up to chests or boxes will present a mysterious object. I can tell the necromancer to do certain things with it: look at it, describe it, smell it, remember something related to it. I can also tell him to eat it. Which I do. Every time. The first object, a metal helmet. The necromancer complains that he'll break his teeth if he does. The second object, a rat, bites him as he attempts to scoff it down. Did either of these clues help me guess what the object was? Of course not! Is making a necromancer eat metal and vermin very funny to me? Yes. 

Cryptmaster

(Image credit: Akupara Games)

The open-endedness of it all kept me humoured far more than I expected, and pushed me to be a little more creative than I really had to be. I still did my best to guess what each chest held, however, as figuring objects out does have its benefit. Letters from the mysterious object will go towards figuring out an ability each party member has. Correctly guessing “helmet” gives my fighter Joro the letters “H_T”. After typing “hit,” I was granted the ability to smack things.

That comes into play when I'm faced with an enemy, with combat running in real time (though there is a turn-based option too). That means I need to type “hit” to get my jabs in, with the help of some other abilities I've picked up from the other three party members. Although I didn't have too many words to pull from in the demo, it was a lot of fun trying to remember which tools were at my disposal.

It all comes together in what I found to be a really enjoyable loop for the demo's duration. Be a gremlin, regress to the comedic mindset of a teenage boy, figure puzzles out, unlock new abilities through the power of ~words~ and then use all that information to smack nasties until they die.

Cryptmaster

(Image credit: Akupara Games)

I'm really looking forward to typing my way through even more of Cryptmaster's dungeon when the game eventually releases. It looks fantastic, was a joy to play and had me immediately adding it to my Steam wishlist. Unfortunately there's no release date just yet, so in the meantime I'll be over here torturing the necromancer with whatever potty-mouthed vocabulary I can conjure up.

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