Crypt / Steve Herring (1990)

The Wizard of Frobozz's Verdict:
Yorick's Verdict:
OK, maybe it wasn't my skull, necessarily, but I didn't know any of you lot as well as you think I did, so quit gazing at my gulliver in such homoerotic fashion. Please.
My Verdict:
A decent enough dungeon-type of game to muck about with if you're feeling particularly nostalgic.

Game Information

Game Type:
Author Info:
Difficult to say. His name comes up as an entry on Baf's Guide when initial Googling is done upon it. According to MobyGames, there's a Steve Herring who works at Monolith. If dude made it from IF in 1990 to No One Lives Forever in 2000, then there's hope for the rest of us yet.
Download Link:


There was a lot of homebrew DOS text adventures made in the late 80s and early 90s and you can't begin playing most of them without coming down with that "creeping sensation of doom" feeling that most of them exude. It's the stench of failure, really. Whether it's a lack of accompanying documentation altogether or -- even better -- a readme.txt file written all in capital letters with special language understudy "teh" giving the role of "the" a try, you're hoping to simply get out alive without your system clock getting set to midway through the fifteenth century, or kind of memory violation where the game attempts to store the number of bullets you have left in your revolver right where your ACPI table starts to get really sexy.

Crypt starts out with the advantage, then, as the help file was obviously written by someone who is both in complete control of his faculties, and who has triumphed over the onset of puberty. I may get some crap for holding this view, but look it up -- if there's no grass on the field not only should you really not expect to play ball, but you shouldn't except to make any sense of a ware's documentation. We even get a tongue-in-cheek statement like this: WARNING: The author of this game will not be responsible for any psychological effects resulting from playing this game after midnight or in a dark room. The Jade Monk doesn't have me so completely jaded that I can't appreciate that kind of thing in my text adventures, so I thought that was cool 'nuff. The only tough bit was determining whether or not I fit the criteria: I started playing the game at 5:17am -- technically before or after midnight? -- which is kind of the same dilemma that Billy faced in Gremlins. Although unlike Billy, I didn't plan on messing things up so badly after having Crypt in my possession for no more than 72 hours that my town was plunged into complete, helpless, anarchy. 

The game begins with a nameless adventure-type as the player character standing before a gate that leads to an old church in the English countryside. We're told that in order to be a successful adventurer, we must possess courage, skill, intelligence and a bit of luck -- and, eventually, a number of historical artifacts of great value. Succeeding in adventure games helps shore up the glaring number of weaknesses within my own personal life, so I embarked on this particular venture with aplomb. Some of the initial locations are given room description headers like "vestibule" and "nave" -- so right from the get-go Herring has the back of British IF players, as your basic American associate's degree education doesn't provide ample experience with whatever the hell a "nave" is. Take that, Zork II baseball puzzle!  The room descriptions, although brief, did kind of clue me into the fact that a nave is kind of like the central part of a church, so it gets some points there.

It's good that the room descriptions were, often, helpful because there's no support for "examine" or "look at" in this game. I know that personally, coming up with descriptors for some of the objects in my games is often one of the more entertaining bits of game creating, so it kind of stunned me that a game was made that so completely robbed its author of that chance to extract pleasure from the hobby. Even having every object described as "Nuts to your <object>" would have been less jarring than the game not comprehending what "examine" meant. The parser otherwise seems to understand enough to get by as a cave crawl, although using "the" or "a" seemed to confuse it.

So while it's unfortunate that the parser really doesn't do the game justice, it also helps glide over some of the rough spots. For instance, there is a vicar asleep in his office in one section of the game. The player has already been hit over the head with the fact that the game's not going to understand much when it comes to object interaction so expectations have already been lowered dramatically. Herring gets away with putting his sleeping vicar in the room and doesn't have to worry about what happens if the player kicks him, tickles him, speaks to him, kisses him, or attempts to break out the butt seXX0ring of him, much less what secrets lay ahead by simply looking at him. It's awful easy to come up with a few memorable images when you don't have to worry about coding up any reaction for them. As Crypt is written competently, it does succeed on that small level of reverse-scale.

(It also got a grin from me by having the equivalent of "Magic Mouths" from the old Bard's Tale games. The Magic Mouths were sets of disembodied lips that would give you hints, clues, riddles to solve and oftentimes little more than pure atmosphere throughout the dungeons. In Crypt, there are random bits of graffiti scattered about its mazes, all leading to the name of someone who you'll need to reveal at one point after assembling your hints. As cave and dungeon crawls tend to be lonely and singular types of  expeditions, getting that sensation of someone having been in your footsteps centuries before, and that they chose to "aid" you in that way goes a long way towards establishing an effective creep-out factor.)

As a nostalgic bit of dungeoneering, Crypt probably still holds up. I'd recommend hanging onto the solution to help get through the mazes, as no-one really likes them these days. (In their defense, they are rather small and easily mapped.) There are a couple tense moments and a few with quality wonder. It's certainly miles ahead of most of its freeware and shareware competition of the time. A decent distraction, if you've got access to DOS and are interested in recapturing that old Zork vibe without all that pesky and sometimes necessary use of the "examine" verb.


(It should be stated that after finishing up with Crypt, the town of Fort Collins, Colorado was plunged into complete, helpless anarchy so I should really keep my smart mouth shut in the future and just play the frigging games.)

Simple Rating
5.0 / 10

2 / 10


7 / 10

There wasn't anything particularly bad about the writing, there just needed to be more of it. We like dorking around with the objects in these games, after all.

7.5 / 10


Puzzle Difficulty
6 / 10

Not much mind-reading of the author going on due to the small scale of the game. Certain objects have uses that aren't, at first, obvious -- this kind of thing is alright when there's only between one and two dozen "things" in the game world.

Parser Responsiveness
2 / 10


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