cryptark pax west 2016
Among the newest games at The PlayStation Booth in Pax West was an ambitious sci-fi shooter, tucked away in the booth. When I saw the words “Cryptark,” I immediately got excited and knew I had to play.
Released in October 2015, Cryptark is incredibly engaging and immersive sci-fi shooter, with roguelike elements and a broad influence from the movie, Alien by Ridley Scott. While roguelike games, games that randomize their elements, have been around for some time, Cryptark does things differently.
In Cryptark, you are a privateer, exploring deep space and salvaging valuable materials for money. Deep in space, massive alien spaceships drift aimlessly in space, their crews long deceased having succumbed to the rigors of space. These ships have become lifeless husks, but the riches that dwell within them are simply too good for a privateer to pass up. Ancient alien technology is the equivalent of striking gold in the middle of space. While the riches are present, so too are the danger.
Ancient alien defense systems, as well as cyborg monstrosities and potentially deadly organism lurk within these massive ships. Winning means securing loot for your privateering and to upgrade your ship. Losing means suffering a crippling loss in your enterprise. It is a true case of risk versus reward, and players have to be up to the challenge. The game had a presence on the PlayStation Youtube channel, as Sony streamed insider access of many games exclusively to the channel during E3 this year.
I sat down, ready to go for CryptArk. A representative of PlayStation was there to guide me and orient me into the game. This included how to maneuver my character and how to utilize my weapons. Players take charge of a massive exo-suit, capable of operating in zero-gravity. There is a primary weapon, the Vulcan, a secondary weapon, missiles, and a charged melee strike, which can go through multiple enemies, should they get up close.
After the quick tutorial, I was given the layout of my first ship. The first thing that struck me was that this game would not be an easy feat. The first level was massive! This was a huge ship, filled with a variety of defensive systems. The objective was to take down these systems to, inevitably, get to the core. Fortunately, the game features a map to which players can reference and make direct routes to specific areas of the ship.
The representative guided me toward my first target, a security module. The enemies started off small and easy to take down. But as the game went on, so to did the dangers. These bigger targets also had their own internal defense, meaning taking them down would be significantly difficult. After taking down one module, I venture to the stern of the ship to take another down.
As I explored further into the ship, I couldn’t help be amazed and haunted by the scenery. The visual style of the game is heavily influenced by famous cinematic artist H.R Giger, who work became the center of the visual styles featured in Ridley Scott’s Alien. In CryptArk, the ship is still alive, with moving pistons and gears in the background. The textures, with that “Alien Green” and black really evoked something haunting yet mysterious. These are massive ships, to which no one has even been inside before, with threats that no one has ever encountered before. This is a dangerous situation, yet also fascinating.
The animations and movement did remind me of Assault Suit Lynos by Dracue Software. It has a fluid yet simple 2D look. In fact, I was quite reminded of 1993’s Cybernator for the SNES. Perhaps it was due to the fact that my suit was being navigated in zero gravity inside of a ship, which is an occurrence in level 3 of Cybernator.
My exo-suit had a good sense of control as well. The machine gun had a small recoil but felt “heavy.” Which was great it felt like I had a capable standard weapon to fight the robot hordes. Missiles were more finite, and I used them for taking down modules or when overwhelmed. I was able to secure health and ammo, but only sparingly. I was able to navigate the ship to pursue an objective, but it was only a temporary reprieve. The alien security units, along with turrets and emplacements, were tough. I tenaciously fought and fought hard, using my machine gun, missiles, and melee attack. I went to multiple areas of the ship and was left with one last objective before attacking the core.
Alas, this last step before victory would be my undoing. I took a tremendous amount of damage and died, losing the demo. However, I lasted for quite some time before biting space dust. The game was terrific. Of note, the music was tremendous as well, setting the stage for venturing into a dark ship. With that, my demo was concluded.
CryptArk will be releasing to the PlayStation 4 before the end of 2016.