Now Playing: Black Crypt (1992)

Black Crypt is the obscure first game by Raven Software, makers of a big pile of amazing classic games like Heretic, Hexen, Soldier of Fortune, X-Men Legends, Singularity, etc, etc, etc. More games than I want to list here. There’s so many that I still haven’t played a few of them, but every one I have has been fun as hell. Hell, these are the guys that even made a fun game based on that pile of shit Wolverine: Origins movie.  Anyway though, back to the point…Black Crypt was a dungeon crawler that only ever came out on Amiga and who the hell even had one of those? I mean I’m not knocking it. If you look into it they seemed to have had a surprisingly good line-up of games and an interesting early-PC-like UI, but never in my life have I met someone that had one. Amiga emulators have proven to be a huge pain in the ass for me in the past too. Luckily there are some wonderful people out there who took it upon themselves to make a bunch of automatic Amiga games contained in single executables with no installation or setup required. (Manual not included though. Get that here.)

Right, so…Black Crypt. First thing you should know is that there’s no music and the game’s pretty light on sound effects too  so you’re probably going to want to put on some music of your own (and it sounds fine when you’re playing it, unlike these videos which got all crackly only when I started recording them).

Second thing is this is one of those games where you’re going to have to read at least part of the manual. The UI is a little tricky to figure out fully on your own and it gives you some very important information about your items and spells and such, that the game doesn’t really explain at all. You’re going to want to know about Wizard Sight in particular, unless you really want to hand draw all your maps. Oh…and you need to look into Reveal Truth too so you don’t end up like me, not taking my own advice, and spending over half the game not realizing that some scrolls you find are fake and give you misleading advice in an attempt to kill you, but you can verify scrolls using this spell.

Yeah this game is pretty complicated for what seems to be a pretty simplistic dungeon crawler. You need to keep your hunger and thirst levels up so you don’t lose health and stamina, which weakens your actions. You need to deal with a ton of nasty status effects that you usually have a limited amount of cures for. You need to pay attention to the magic scrolls you find because sometimes a scroll of a spell at a higher level than what you can cast is the ONLY way to progress. And oh shit, the traps and the puzzles are relentlessly vicious. The combat actually ends up feeling like the easy part compared to how nasty some of the mazes are.

So, first ball busting challenge you’re going to face is an invincible, giant two-headed ogre that’s holding the key to the exit to the third floor. As the notes you find lying around explain to you, the only way to hurt him is with the magic sword Ogreslayer. Of course first you have to find it, which involves getting past him and a lot of exploring and puzzles. Once you finally do find it you might think “hey cool, a nice magic sword!”, but nope. Ogreslayer starts sucking out your health if you leave it equipped! Good times.

Make it past him and you’ll find yourself on the third floor where there are only two paths open so far. One leads to an area full of invisible enemies. Nope! Turn around, go back to the other path which leads down to the fourth floor. Gonna have to come back later according to the messages left here. Down to the fourth floor…oh look, weird little guys who appear out of nowhere, steal the items right out of your hands, and then disappear! Ugh. Supposedly if you can find your lair you can get your stuff back, but that’s not going to help when you run empty handed into the other enemies down here, which are these weird tentacle things on the ceiling that poison you, and guess what? You only have about 4 antidotes at this point in the game and no poison cure spell yet. UGH.

Yeah, so unsurprisingly you’re going to want to save like crazy and be really careful in your exploration because this is one big, nasty, ball-busting dungeon. On the plus side, there’s also a cluebook section in the back of that manual if you get really stuck (though even that still doesn’t explain quite everything).

ANOTHER thing you’re going to want to watch out for is inventory management. Not only will you find more stuff than you can ever possibly carry, but if you try to carry too many heavy things all the time it’ll start to drain your stamina. On the other hand though, you need to be careful about what you discard. Like I said before, certain scrolls can be vital, and so can certain items and weapons.

For example, much later in the game there is a whole level that’s underwater. If you haven’t found and hoarded the 2 rings and 2 helmets that grant water-breathing then you’re going to have a real hard time trying to get through that place using nothing but the small handful of temporary water-breathing potions you can find.

Even worse was the last boss. Turns out none of your usual weapons or spells can even touch him. You get a vague hint about needing to use “the artifacts” on him, but unless I missed something somewhere, it never really explains exactly what that means. Turns out you need a specific sword, hammer, shield, and wand, all of which you may very well have dropped because as far as you can tell they aren’t nearly as strong as other items of their type found around that level. Great. Then you just need to attack him with the sword and hammer until he’s weakened and the artifacts start glowing, then you use the wand to freeze him, then you use the special secondary power of the sword to open a portal behind him, and finish by using the special secondary power of the hammer to knock him through it. The end!

What does the shield do? I don’t even know, but someone needs to start a band named Estoroth Paingiver. Anyway, despite a few overly obscure puzzles like that, it was a great, challenging dungeon adventure that I’m glad I finally got around to conquering. Check it out if you’re MAN ENOUGH!

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