Review by · May 9, 2024

I’ve never played an RPG quite like Cryptmaster. That’s thirty points (™) right there. Yet, while simple and unique in its execution, I’d venture to say this is a niche title because it definitely leans towards those with a love of language and depth of vocabulary. While I wouldn’t say verbosity and wealth of knowledge are required traits, they certainly help, and not just in terms of skill. To enjoy Cryptmaster, solving riddles, using clues to uncover words, and being able to guess long words based on only knowing a few letters should be preferred activities.

Often feeling like Hangman: The RPG, Cryptmaster is primarily about following a ghostly guide called Cryptmaster up, up, up in order to power his soulstone and unleash the dead on the world of the living. You, four fallen heroes, must puzzle your way through word knowledge to the top and make some decisions about the fate of civilization. Along the way, you meet all sorts of odd fellows and fellow-esses, all the while responding in freeform text after gathering clues.

Freeform communication occurs with noteworthy NPCs at key points in the game, sometimes including side quests. While initial hints regarding what to say can guide conversation, exploring in this grid-oriented, first-person, dungeon-diving RPG will guide one’s thinking. I found these gates pretty easy to solve with a little running around and thought, but I often had to go searching; patience is another desirable trait for Cryptmaster.

Alligator holding a shield with the letter E in the center. Text above explains the shield blocks E letters with letters above to guess the creature's name.
Font for clarity or font for style? You decide.

Aside from furthering the plot, every companion has a series of blank letters alongside their portrait. Accomplishing some tasks—such as solving riddles, fishing, and thwumping foes—provides letters to assist in collecting their word. Why collect their word? Because it offers backstory and all-important abilities to type out in combat.

After collecting the word, a new blank shows up to complete, which helps in future battles. Each enemy in Cryptmaster has different characteristics, with some immune to knockdown, others healing on hit, and some having shields to block certain letters, forcing players to deal damage using one of their several other abilities. Dying is a slap on the wrist as players return to the previous savepoint, though maintaining the pool of souls, which serve as magic points for abilities, can be a drag.

Collecting souls can feel a bit grindy at times, but the world is visually appealing enough, and the several ways to play encourage exploration, which naturally accrues souls for the player. For instance, players may find skulls that tell riddles or treasure chests that require players to ask up to five questions about the hidden object before they are required to guess what it is. Doing so sometimes offers souls but always provides letters for characters. Other gameplay opportunities include cracking locks by guessing a four-letter combo based on a characteristic of the person who put the lock on in the first place, ciphers, and a card-based minigame called Whatever.

Frog King plays Whatever, with the player had displaying "Steve," "Tollo," "Snake," and "Boh." Steve loads a letter!
The royal frog with spider eyes loves playing cards. And having multiple wives.

This card game, consistent with Cryptmaster‘s gameplay, requires players to take turns with an NPC to spell the names of the enemy on a series of cards in their possession with a random pool of letters at the bottom of the screen. This surprisingly strategic aside can feel a bit luck-based (like any card game), but skillful and thoughtful play usually wins the day. By no means are players ever required to play Whatever, but I found it snappy and enjoyable enough to merit a romp every time the opportunity arose.

The voice acting is exceptional, with quirky, irreverent voices littered about everywhere. Cryptmaster is clearly the star of the show with his somehow intelligent yet dopey musings sprinkled throughout the adventure. While the music is serviceable, I’m glad it doesn’t take center stage because that would distract from the humorous moaning, coughing, and gentle barbs thrown at the player from the peanut gallery.

Creepy hallway with odd paintings in Cryptmaster.
What it lacks in color, it more than makes up for in what the hell are those paintings?

Visually, black and white can be a cheap way to establish mood and avoid the work that providing color would offer, but given the undead theme, dark atmosphere of being underground most of the game, and Cthulhian vibe at times, the palette works. Shades aside, the actual drawings are a joy to behold, with an eerie level of detail in some cases. Although I would never call Cryptmaster a scary game, it certainly has an edge to it.

Cryptmaster does what it sets out to do capably. Monotony never strikes in this nearly fifteen hour jaunt since the gameplay always changes, though always vocabulary-based. If words are your thing, I cannot think of a single game that does what this game does better. This isn’t a type-as-fast-as-you-can first-person-shooter. Thoughtful, patient play drives success, so sate that frenetic itch you have elsewhere.


Innovative gameplay, fantastic voice acting, odd world.


Collecting magic points can slow gameplay, end-game is an unfortunate difficulty spike, words can be a bit obtuse at times.

Bottom Line

A love of language and unique gameplay is enough to get literati excited for Cryptmaster, while those favoring less cerebral experiences should look elsewhere.

Overall Score 85
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Jerry Williams

Jerry Williams

Jerry has been reviewing games at RPGFan since 2009. Over that period, he has grown in his understanding that games, their stories and characters, and the people we meet through them can enrich our lives and make us better people. He enjoys keeping up with budding scholarly research surrounding games and their benefits.