Cryptic Keep in Review – Treasure hunting the boring way

The extremely low entry barrier onto the iOS development scene ($99 and a Mac) is both a blessing and a curse for a number of reasons. On one hand it allows indie developers with original ideas to make a grab for the proverbial “millions”. On the other, a significant chunk of the 300K+ of apps on the App Store are complete and utter crap. That’s why sites like TMA exist – to sort through the dung to find the gold. Unfortunately, Cryptic Keep is not shiny…

Cryptic Keep is a classic puzzle-centric adventure game in the traditions of Myst (TMA Review) and the like… or at least it tries to be. An ancient keep has remained untouched for centuries, ever since the legendary king Telvonus sealed it with a spell to safeguard from the invaders. The only way to enter – the Sword of Ire – has been hidden in his castle, never to be found again. Until now that is…

On the surface Cryptic Keep seems to be rather a traditional puzzle-centric adventure. You explore a deserted castle and its surroundings, trying to find a way inside the keep and onward. Some of the puzzles are inventory based while others involve some simple mini-games. The execution quality is the main issue though. Playing Cryptic Keep I felt like it should be a free Flash title on the web rather than a full-fledged paid iOS app.

The puzzles are quite simple and the most trouble you’ll come across is some pixel hunting. I did encounter one place where I had to resort to some brute-force hacking, but mostly simple attentiveness to the environment will be enough. And since there are very few actual hotspots on each screen you won’t find yourself overwhelmed by information in any way.

The graphics are as disappointing as the rest of the content. The rendering quality is pretty bad and don’t even think about expecting any Retina-display goodness. The colours are quite bleak and boring and give a strong impression that the visuals have been reused from a mid-nineties shareware title. The interface also has very Flash-game feel to it, with each item having a predetermined slot in the limited inventory as well as the god-awful pixel-hunting.

Even for a die-hard adventure fan like myself, Cryptic Keep has been a complete and utter disappointment. The simple and unappealing storyline, the boring puzzles and outdated graphics would be ok for a free Flash game, and not a very popular one at that. But for a $1.99 iOS release that is simply unacceptable and I’d advise any gamer to stay well clear of Cryptic Keep.

With this I declare Cryptic Keep officially touched!

Slap Rating - 2/5

App Summary
Title: Cryptic Keep Developer: 3D Methods
Reviewed Ver: 1.1 Min OS Req: 3.0
Price: $1.99 App Size: 40.52MB
  • Nothing really
  • Lame storyline
  • Simple and boring puzzles
  • Pixelhunting
  • Outdated graphics


A project manager in a major telecommunications supplier, an iPhone junkie and lately - a TMA editor. Love long walks on the beach and my wife, who is the most beautiful girl on the face of this planet. You can also follow me on twitter for all things iPhone and project management (and some personal stuff as well):

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