Courier of the Crypts by Emberheart games is insofar a puzzle game with a horror bent. It starts with the “ominous dream sequence into idyllic pastoral village comedy” cold open that you will be familiar with from approximately every RPG ever, and then places you in control of a lad named “Courier”. Despite apparently having been named for the job from birth like some kind of medieval laborer, it’s the kid’s first day on the job as a courier. He’s told to deliver a letter to the “Guardian of the Crypts” (this apparently being a post-industrial timeline in which grave robbing for scientific studies is profitable and guards are needed) and he goes to the spooky graveyard, drops the letter through the mailslot, and nicks off back to his boss to receive a single silver piece.
I’m kidding of course: Told to deliver the letter in person, you enter the crypts only for an OSHA violation of a floor to collapse in an earthquake, trapping Mr. Courier in the typical dark dungeon. This is where gameplay starts proper. There’s typical key and button puzzles to solve, false walls with hidden items, and throwing rocks to destroy nicknacks lying around for cash. It’s serviceable, and the level design is actually quite good at packing a lot into tight, contiguous spaces. Then it becomes clear through both flashbacks and some effective environmental storytelling that some now slaughtered cultists in robes have unleashed some kind of ancient evil in the crypts. This introduces the magic torch, which wards off the demonic beasties but requires fuel to keep burning. This leads to some excellent tension as some puzzles involve extinguishing the torch, causing a horde of evil spiders to bum rush you as you try to relight it.
I’m pretty interested in where this one is going when it leaves Early Access. It’s well executed technically, with both keyboard and controller support and no glitches in a cursory examination. The art looks alright, and has a good atmosphere. Collectibles and the scoring system do add some replayablity for people who like that. I do have a niggle with the current version, and that’s how you have to restart an entire level, which might take 5 minutes of straight walking around when you know the puzzles, when you die. Checkpoints would be nice. Otherwise, this is a charming game at this juncture, and I’d hold out hope that it gets a proper final release.