Five years ago, in my review of Crypt of the Serpent King for Xbox One I refrained from using the line “polishing faecal matter and then applying glitter was designed for instances such as this”. And whilst this game is certainly better than buffing up a big old poop, the glitter has now been applied to the dungeon crawler in Crypt of the Serpent King Remastered 4K Edition. It still won’t be troubling the processing power of your Xbox Series X|S, but does this new version of Crypt of the Serpent King warrant another look at?
It would be remiss to call this version the ‘definitive’ version. This is the third iteration of Crypt of the Serpent King on Xbox – Xbox Live Indie Games, Xbox One and now this – so all signs would point to another version being wheeled out whenever the new Xbox decides to make an appearance. It will be interesting to note which buzzwords will be used for that edition since as Remastered and 4K are already in place here. Crypt of the Serpent King 8K Complete Definitive Edition New Funky Mode featuring Dante from the Devil May Cry series maybe? You can see the cover art already.
In reality, there is nothing new added in this 4K version. Once again, Crypt of the Serpent King plunges you into seven dungeons to retrieve keys and defeat the bosses at the end of each stage. It is dungeon crawling in its purest form; no real story, no lore to get lost in and any variation such as weapon equipping and levelling up all being done in the menu beforehand.
The dungeons themselves are all procedurally generated. Each level has a different ‘theme’: one may feature large stone walls akin to a castle cellar, whilst another will look like a pyramid labyrinth. These are just mere skins for the same four or five assets. A big room will indicate either the end, start or a key room, and these are joined by simple looking corridors. This all lends itself to Crypt of the Serpent King having this old school look and feel to it. Although, this is a polite way of saying the game is very basic.
Even the graphics don’t look like they have been given much of an upgrade. The previous release suffered from very dingy and grey looking assets, and that is once again the case here. Where weapons should look shiny or reflect some kind of lighting, even in the darkened dungeons, everything looks like it is made of either leather or wood. Even weapons like the hatchet or sword have a brownish tinge to them. It cannot even be argued that this is a design choice; it just looks bad. It looked bad in the previous version and there appears to be no improvement this time around either.
Combat has a distinctive rhythm to it. It isn’t exactly Elden Ring levels of learning attack patterns, but you should definitely bait out attacks from enemies before unleashing your own. You have no method of blocking attacks though; instead, you should move in close enough for the enemy to attack, quickly step back and then swing away after they’ve made the first move. Once you get this choreography down, there should be no issues in despatching every single enemy in the game.
There are also ranged weapons for purchase that make things even easier. A musical change will tell you when an enemy is hunting you down and you can start firing from a pretty good distance, with a reasonably high chance of hitting. Ranged weapons are also the best method of defeating the bosses at the end of each level; a bug will frequently occur where your crosshair will lock on to the enemy resulting in you never missing. I say a bug, because it doesn’t feel natural. And it makes these battles a bit of a joke in all honesty.
The most difficult aspect of Crypt of the Serpent King is actually getting the keys. Each key room represents a safe space where no enemies will be waiting for you – though they can come through some of the adjoining corridors if they spot you – but that isn’t the issue here. The plinths where each key reside are surrounded by a hazard that needs to be jumped over. Now, jumping in Crypt of the Serpent King isn’t the best example of the mechanic; it feels very clunky. And falling into a hazard is an instant death as there is no way to get out of them. Fortunately, all gold and XP is carried over upon a death, but you will need to restart the level from scratch if this still happens. There is a good chance it will too, as there isn’t much room for error when jumping over the hazard.
The only real difference comes in the form of the achievements on offer. This new version features a much easier route to 1000G. Not that the previous list was tricky, but it did require three playthroughs, one on each difficulty. Now though, only one completion is required, and it can take place on the easiest setting too. The only other achievement to note is for buying the sword, the best melee weapon in the game. Technically it can be missed, but you will be drowning in gold after just a few levels so will be able to buy it.
Crypt of the Serpent King on the Xbox One was a game that hardly pushed the boundaries of the console. Crypt of the Serpent King Remastered 4K Edition pushes the Xbox Series X|S even less. There is barely any update between versions. Sure, it now plays in 4K, but the graphics are so muddy it barely makes a difference. But, £2.49 cannot be scoffed at for a game that does offer some pure dungeon crawling, as basic as it is.
Crypt of the Serpent King Remastered 4K Edition is on the Xbox Store
- Simple dungeon crawler
- Easier 1000G than the previous release
- No major updates from previous version
- 4K assets make no difference to the ugliness
- Simple combat
- Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - Eastasiasoft
- Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC, Switch, PS4, PS5
- Version reviewed - Xbox Series X
- Release date - 8 July 2022
- Launch price from - £2.49