Cryptark Is A Roguelike Shooter From Apotheon’s Devs

I like procedurally generated spaces not because I enjoy muddled corridors, but because it pushes designers to give their locations structure in other ways. In the case of roguelike shooter Cryptark [official site], that’s filling its hulking spaceships with systems such as shield generators, repair systems, signal jammers, drone factories, sentry controllers and more. You have to decide how to deal with each one of them before taking on the ship’s core. The game arrives in Early Access tomorrow and there’s a trailer below.

I hope there’s interplay between these different systems, such that you can manipulate the environment by picking and choosing which to take on and which to ignore. Being able to take out the drone factory to reduce the number of enemies you need to fight is great, but it’d be a shame if those optional objectives just make the game easier in a linear fashion, meaning that tackling them is all but essential before attacking the core.

Cryptark is being made by the developers of Apotheon, the exceedingly pretty side-scrolling platformer designed to look like an ancient vase. Pip loved how it looked but found it unwieldy to control, especially when it came to its melee combat. Cryptark seems more about laser guns than javelins, so perhaps that won’t be an issue here.

The game will be released into early access tomorrow, Wednesday 7th, and will cost $13 after an initial launch discount of 15% runs out.

31 Comments

  1. Nevard says:

    I’m really starting to get burned out on permanent death mechanics, quite often I just want to play a game without the risk of losing all my progress and then having to start in a completely new world, you know?
    That said, I’m sure this will still be fine. It doesn’t look like one of the ones where they’ve just slapped “real death” on because it’s the in thing right now, it is at least built into the core systems.

    Like the music too.

    • trashmyego says:

      I personally love permanent death mechanics in games, but yeah I do prefer them when they’re properly implemented within a system that suits them. I wish more games provided flexible difficulty/option alternatives even if they break the game when on. Developers are far too protective of their game mechanics these days, that they’re meant to be played in only a specific manner. Growing up I loved finding out that after beating a game, I was provided with silly cheat modes. Not enough stuff like that anymore.

      • Nevard says:

        The cheat I miss most is “Big Head Mode”. Surely this is one that should have survived the ages?

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          Graham Smith says:

          Super Hot has it.

        • KDR_11k says:

          Assault Android Cactus has an unlockable “small head mode” because the characters already have huge heads.

          • trashmyego says:

            I got so excited when I saw the EX unlocks or whatever they’re called. That game is one of my favorite time wasters. Such pure design, plays so well.

    • McGibs says:

      Dev here!
      The death mechanic in Cryptark is actually tied into the ingame economy system, so its not quite as binary as a traditional roguelike. Works out like this:
      -Use money to buy equipment and weapons.
      -Defeat enemy ships to make-back that investment (and hopefully some profit)
      -if you die, you obviously dont get the ship payout, so you lose your investment in weapons.
      -If your bank account reaches $0, your mercenary crew goes bankrupt and that’s how you fail your run.

      So, depending on how much money you pump into your equipment loadout, you can actually die multiple times without failing.

      • LionsPhil says:

        That sounds pretty good; nice strategic decision on how much you risk investing into a ship, where you can trade off the chance of failure against the impact of failure.

      • trashmyego says:

        That sounds great.

      • Bernardo says:

        This comes a bit late, I don’t know if you still read this, but I have to say the progression seems a bit steep. I start with wrecks that are difficulty 1, but since you don’t stay in the same scrapyard, but move (randomly, it seems to me) to the next one, I’ve been jumped from diff. 1 to diff. 3 or even 5. I’ve barely unlocked the first few weapons and am not equipped to handle swarms of the more demanding enemies.

        Other than that, great game! Loved Capsized, too, and what little I have played of Apotheon.

        • Fustercluck says:

          Hunt better for moar gunz. Play the tutorial for 4 free random tech advancements. Beyond that Get as much as you can each mission. Early on it helps to set your max health to 6 and see if you can find a mission where it is doable to hit all 3 submissions. Doing so gives you a bigger cashflow. This gives you a nice buffer that allowed you to take more kit with you, even if it is at a bit of a loss, and uncover more tech.

          Just because the base kit is base doesn’t mean it can’t help you in the early levels. Carry 2x mmg and spam both at the same time really cuts down the early critters good. Remove grenades and stick to 2x fix-5 and you can easily stay below 60k deployment cost.

          I tried 4x mmg-s once and it was hilarious. Maybe not viable but definitly crazy fun.

          • Bernardo says:

            Again, much too late, sorry. Been busy at work. Thanks a lot for the tips, will try them!

  2. Kefren says:

    Sidetracked, but why do games/films/books talk about “taking shield generators offline”? Why not just say “destroy” the mcguffin in question? It makes it sound like the shield generators are being naughty (maybe downloading forcefield porn) and you have to pull out their wi-fi power plug to teach them a lesson. The scoundrels.

    • wcq says:

      One might also wonder why “shield generators” keep being so popular in fiction while having no basis in actual science.

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        Harlander says:

        Well, if you really want to make sure something’s offline, destroying it is the way to go.

      • TillEulenspiegel says:

        They’re a useful dramatic device when you don’t want to deal with permanent damage. When you don’t (eg, the humans in Babylon 5), it really raises the stakes of any armed conflict.

        Also, they’re sort of a logical extension of electromagnetic fields. No basis in actual science, but it’s easy to understand the concept.

      • KDR_11k says:

        Because it’s more sci-fi looking than a giant chunk of heavy metal. And it allows more alien and sleek designs that don’t need to look like they can be smashed into a wall and survive yet can still take tons of shots to kill.

        And sometimes shields are for invulnerability, like in this case.

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      Phasma Felis says:

      I think you see this with systems in general, not just shields–sensors, weapons, engines, etc. Also, it often means broadly “disabled/drained/turned off,” rather than actually destroyed. This applies in particular to shields, since they can often be temporarily overloaded. You see stuff “coming back online” as often as you see it going offline. Sometimes without even the “back”–verbal confrontations often escalate to violence when “they’re bringing their weapons online, Captain.”

      • Kefren says:

        Yes, I think I was querying the use of “online”. All those examples make more sense with other words such as “charging up the laser cannon” or “turning on shields”. It just strikes me as strange to use the word “online” when it is apparently nothing to do with being “online” or “on line”.

  3. protorp says:

    Apotheon may not have been Pip’s cup of tea, but I picked it up in the last Steam sale and have absolutely loved it. Visually stunning, wonderful evocation of some eternally dramatic myths, lots of clever background design detail which creates a surpisingly immersive world given its rather sparse aesthetic.

    I can see why the combat might put some people off… there’s a initially strange disconnect between its fastish movement and ponderous attack speed… but I’ve found that once I was used to this it actually serves to up the intensity of fights when they do break out, and to make you consider weapons and approaches more carefully before they do.

    IMHO most certainly a game that deserves more exposure than it’s had.

    • Manburger says:

      I totally agree! I found the unique atmosphere and aesthetics gripping, and really got into the sometimes brutal chaos of the combat. I suppose I can sort of see why maybe not everyone dug the game: if the feel of the combat does not sit right with you the whole thing falls apart.

      Noone’s mentioned their other game, Capsized, which is a very fun physics-y sidescrollin’ shooter set on a lush alien world, and probably closer to this new game than Apotheon.
      So I’m pretty excited to play it! :D

      • protorp says:

        Capsized also has a soundtrack by Solar Fields (who also scored Mirror’s Edge) and thus serves to expose more people to some of the most amazing electronic downtempo out there. It seems Alientrap have a sound and visual design style that really ticks my boxes.

  4. Distortion says:

    Oh my, I quite like that art. Especially the cyborg aspects. I wonder if before the ship went derelict, did the drones and machines have flesh on them and it just decayed, as you see what looks like the crew as skeletons in the chairs near the core/brain. I think that would actually make it more creepy.

    …now I want to write up about a race of skeletal cyborgs. I mean different from the Necrons in Warhammer 40k, which I also love.

    • LionsPhil says:

      It’s very ’90s shoot-em-up.

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      I too am very okay with that art style.

    • McGibs says:

      Dev here!
      You get a cookie! That’s a pretty spot on guess for the enemy theme. They were once live aliens, but are long dead and rotted away to skeletons only to be pupped around by their extensive cybernetics. Hence the ‘Crypt’ part!
      As we progress in development, we’ll be expanding on narrative tidbits throughout the game to add some more er… flesh to these critters.

  5. closetgeekshow says:

    Played a version of this at the Bento Miso Bit Bazaar, I found it pretty hard to put down. There might be a lot of roguelike platformers out now, but this is going to be one of the great ones I think.

  6. Rane2k says:

    Another one of the games where I watch the trailer, think “wow I must have this!” and then it says “Early Access”.

    Call me back when you´re finished. :-/

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      Phasma Felis says:

      I know it’s fashionable to blame Early Access for pretty much everything, but pre-release/development trailers were around for a long time before Steam existed, let alone Early Access.

      • Rane2k says:

        Yes, thats true.

        Yet, to me it is different, the game is there, I could go and get into the early access right now if I wanted. But I do not, I want to play an actual finished game.

        I´m certain there is an audience for early access titles, and developers who do this the right way.
        But I have a feeling that a large percentage of the time I would play the game as a half-finished, unpolished version, which would spoil my taste for the finished game.

  7. ShadowNate says:

    I loved Apotheon and I am definitely hyped for Cryptark. Since I have nothing against Early Access I am probably diving into this, unless the first batch of reviews report thousands of bugs or something.