Courier of the Crypts – Preview
Follow Genre: Indie 2D action adventure
Developer: Emberheart Games
Publisher: Emberheart Games
Platform: PC
Tested on: PC

Courier of the Crypts – Preview

Good: Pixel-art, atmosphere, puzzles, level build-up, boss battles
Bad: Can't personalise controls (yet?)
User Score
(5 votes)
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Rating: 10.0/10 (5 votes cast)

Emberheart Game’s latest baby has been in the works for years. This 2D Indie action adventure game full of dangers and puzzles earned Steam Greenlight in November 2014 and even got released in Early Access quite recently. With the title’s marvellous looking pixel-art and promises of an ominous ambiance and tricky, deadly crypts to explore, we jumped to the chance of trying our wits and nimble-fingerness against the dangers of Emberheart Game’s creation.


Courier of the Crypts is one of those Early Access titles that draws you in with its looks; it pulls you in with its great intro, and then keeps you with its gameplay. In the game, a young, nameless protagonist wakes up from a horrible nightmare, only to realise it is his first day of work today. As a courier, he needs to hand over a letter to the guardian of the crypts. As a new addition to the Pony Delivery Service, messing things up on his first day would clearly not help him in getting ahead in his career. However, when the player has led him to his presumed destination, the client appears to be missing within the belly of the dark dungeons of the crypts. With the place having an uncanny resemblance to his earlier eerie dream, it is clear your adventure has only just begun.

Well-crafted pixel-art shapes beautiful decors for the player to explore while mist, shadows, haunting background music and curious notes scattered all over the place add to the general mystery. The deep caverns are clearly not the friendliest places to wander around in. Darkness, spiders, magical obstacles, traps, puzzles and bosses make your descent in search of the guardian a perilous undertaking.

The Courier starts every level with 3 full hearts, as is tradition. A small torch helps him to light his path in search for the gates that lead to the next location. In this hunt for keys to unlock doors, hidden treasure and long lost relics, this little bit of fire is more than just a means to broaden your line of sight; it also manages to ward off most of the light sensitive man-eating spiders. In a place that seems to be infested with the critters, this is of course very handy. However, your torch can turn into the bane of your existence the moment it goes out and your juicy limbs become focus number one for all the eight-legged nasties. It is then that you are more than happy to have found a couple of stones or jars of oil to fling at the monsters.

Courier of the Crypts_stage

Simply trying to find a way around the beasties may prove a lot safer than facing them head on. Players will have plenty of time to think their way out of the various locations as losing all your health simply brings you back to the start of the level with your starting items to try again. Mobs and odd obstacles aren’t your only problems of course, and every now and then a boss will pop up that will test your nerves on the battlefield. Can you throw that oil fast enough and dodge everything that is coming your way? You had better be ready.

Emberheart Games did a very good job at keeping the controls for the game simple yet engaging. Giving you the choice between controller or keyboard, it allows you to pick how you play from the very beginning. Movement for keyboard players is done by using the arrow keys while lighting or extinguishing your torch, interacting with objects, shooting your weapon of choice and switching between ammunition is accomplished by using the A, Y/Z, X and Tab-keys respectively.

As the player moves around, the strength of his torch’s light will diminish over time, meaning you better use it wisely and replenish heat whenever possible. This can be done in certain areas or by collecting little magical flames along your journey. The title also provides an in game inventory to hold objects like keys and keeps track of your ammo and gold. Relics however only appear on the worldmap.

Courier of the Crypts_map

It is very clear a lot of work and love was (and still is) being put into the game. The various puzzles are clever, and because finding relics and secret passages isn’t necessary to be able to move on to the next level, the replayability is quite high. Stages that have been unlocked can easily be re-accessed by returning to the worldmap. This can be done at any moment in the game so that any level can be replayed whenever you like. Whether you simply want to check your progress or want to locate even more secrets, visiting the map is certainly something you’ll be doing frequently, especially when you’re quite the completionist.

While it is obvious Courier of the Crypts has all the elements of a winner, there are still of course some small points we think might need some improvement. Keybindings for example can’t be adjusted to personal taste at this moment, which means that players that aren’t too comfortable with the suggested controls might suffer a bit. We also didn’t see much difference between playing with and testing without the Agoraphobia option active. This option was implemented to help players having trouble to get past the spiders and thus would basically be the title’s alternative for a difficulty setting. However, whether we had the option off or on didn’t seem to matter during our play. This is likely a bug that will hopefully get smoothed out before the official release as it does look like an interesting addition. Our last point is the puzzling use of ‘menu’ to refer to the worldmap. While this doesn’t diminish gameplay in any way, it is rather confusing. Otherwise, Courier of the Crypts more than often seems to hit the right buttons.

Courier of the Crypts_boss1


Creator Emberhearts Games clearly didn’t steal its name. Courier of the Crypts, even while still in development, is a game with a heart and soul built on a good set on foundations. While there certainly are still some points it can improve on, the gameplay is already pretty solid. It certainly feels like a fresh yet incredibly familiar breeze. If you’re a fan of adventure puzzle games with a heavy focus on atmosphere, dodging danger and finding secrets, Courier of the Crypts is definitely a title to keep an eye out for. The ominous atmosphere, wonderfully handcrafted levels, many hidden secrets and nods to the classic era simply make you want to beat it, one room at a time.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 10.0/10 (5 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)
Courier of the Crypts – Preview, 10.0 out of 10 based on 5 ratings

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