Valhalla Classics: The Crypt
First released for the Amiga in1994 this game has been made available for the PC courtesy of a nifty little device called the Vulcan Portal. The Vulcan Portal allows you to partake in a virtual community, choose or create a 3D representation of yourself, send and receive voice mail, etc. It also allows you to download and play the Valhalla Classics. The first episode, The Crypt (reviewed here) is free and will give you a good introduction to the game. Later episodes can also be downloaded for a small fee. You must first download the free Vulcan Portal before you can install and play The Crypt. Once installed you can use the portal to play the game off-line.
The game itself plays in a small window in the middle of the portal and though I was a little dubious of this at first I quickly became so absorbed in working out the puzzles that it ceased to matter. What you see on screen is a small maze-like world of pathways, gardens and altars, but don't be deceived by its size. There's a lot more to it than meets the eye.
Your chosen Portal guide will explain how the game works and will bring you up to date on the story. Briefly, King Garamond, your father, has been overthrown by his evil brother who is known as The Lord of Infinity. Your uncle also ordered your death when you were just a baby but you were rescued and grew up safely in exile. Now, at the tender age of fourteen you, the little Prince, have returned to claim your rightful place as Garamond's heir.
The Crypt is a 2D mouse-controlled adventure where the game world scrolls to reveal more areas as the little Prince walks, or runs. The view is from directly overhead (also known as God mode or top down) and the little Prince will look directly up when he talks to you or makes a comment. When in a sticky situation his comments such as "I hope you know what you're doing" or "Can we swap places?" are really quite comical, making it a lot of fun and drawing you into the game.
To complete this fairly substantial first episode you must help the little Prince to solve puzzles in the form of avoiding traps, finding keys to open locked doors and chests, and solving riddles posed by the skulls of ancient warriors. This in turn involves finding or creating the correct inventory item to appease them. Your ultimate goal is to collect the four stones that will get you into the start of the next episode. You will find cryptic clues along the way in the pages of books that your Portal guide will read to you. Don't worry, these books are just short snippets of information so the game never bogs down. You can also read the books yourself and you can enable subtitles for the prince's commentary.
I really enjoyed working on the puzzles; they reminded me of what drew me to adventure games in the first place. You can look at everything and the little Prince will offer a description. It might be "a lit candle" or it might be an "altar of lies" and you need to think about how you can use this information to your advantage with objects in the game world. Some of the puzzles will certainly test you but not so fiercely that they will hold you up for too long. It is possible to 'die' from an injudicious step in the 'trapped' rooms so it is important that you save your game.
A word of warning on saving. There is only one save game so each time you save you overwrite your previous saved game. This can get you into trouble as it is possible to be stuck in an area with no escape if you don't have the item you need in your inventory. If you save on entering these areas you will be stuck and will need to restart the game. My advice is to save before entering a new area, then check it out for traps and blocked exits. If you can leave the area then it's safe to save. Having said that, restarting isn't really that much of a problem. You should be able to remember most of what you have done previously and it shouldn't take too long to retrace your steps.
Overall, The Crypt is a fun game for everyone. It's a real cutie with an amusing character who will surely win your allegiance and enlist your help to overthrow the evil usurper.
To Download the Vulcan Portal and The Crypt visit Vulcan Software.
Copyright © Gordon Aplin 2002.
All rights reserved.
Requires Vulcan Portal to be installed first.
Windows 95, 98, 2000, XP, CE, ME
DirectX 7.0 (or higher)
Direct Sound compatible Sound Card
Direct Draw compatible Graphics Card (with 1Mb Video Memory)