There's no shortage of pixel art on Steam, but few games take retro graphics as far as Kharon's Crypt, a dungeon crawler inspired by old Zelda games that directly emulates the Game Boy Color right down to its controls.
Kharon's Crypt is currently on Kickstarter (opens in new tab), with five-person developer Andromeda Project asking for $4,925. At the time of writing, the campaign has already raised over $6,000 and will run for another 28 days. Windows (opens in new tab) and Linux (opens in new tab) users can also download and play a free demo now.
Although its gameplay is based on Zelda games—specifically The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons—Andromeda Project says the story and setting of Kharon's Crypt is largely inspired by the works of Edgar Allen Poe and HP Lovecraft, with dashes of Greek and Egyptian mythology for good measure. Add to that 8-bit renditions of Johann Sebastian Bach's storied songs and you've got a dark world.
The gist of the story is this: Death scion Kharon was imprisoned in a cursed tomb by a mad king and, ages later, emerges to reclaim his stolen body parts and catch up on some soul ferrying. However, having spent so many years in an ethereal state, Kharon's abilities are limited. In fact, on his own he can only vanish temporarily and stun enemies from afar. It's Kharon's third ability, possession, that makes the game tick.
By stunning and possessing a variety of enemies—"Leng Spiders, Ghouls, Ghasts, Yigs, Shans, Byakhees, Wendigos or even Hounds of Tindalos"—you can take on their powers and attributes, then use them to fend off other enemies or solve puzzles. Possess a bat, for example, and you can fly over wide gaps. Slip into a skeleton to push blocks onto plates, or a knight to use their sword to clean up enemies. It's an interesting mechanic that seems a natural fit for the game's modular world, really making you weigh the value of enemies before killing them.
A cursory play of the demo shows Kharon's Crypt isn't overly faithful. Its controls are simple as can be, but its graphics are head and shoulders above anything on the Game Boy Color, despite taking inspiration from the style. It's unabashedly low-res but uses carefully dithered pixels to create sharp sprites and finely detailed textures, and its HUD avoids the mess that plagued old games. It seems to be quite hard as well, judging from the limited save points.
Kharon's Crypt is expected to release on PC in early 2018.