You may have noticed Cryptract while browsing PSN on your PS4. If so, you could be forgiven for assuming that this new mobile version is a port of a console game. In fact, Cryptract started life on mobile, in Japan, all the way back in 2015.
That means it’s been out for well over four years – plenty of time for developer Bank of Innovation to perform tweaks and optimizations in preparation for you downloading it onto your very own English-speaking phone.
Cryptract is a gacha SRPG. If you’re a fan of that genre, that means you already know almost everything the game entails. Suffice it to say that this is a polished, well-balanced example, which gives up its currencies fairly generously and doesn’t feel excessively grindy.
The story is a simple but classic affair. You play as the ruler of a kingdom that has been decimated by a mystical beast, which has brought with it a very large number of supplementary mystical beasts. Naturally you need to kill them all.
You do that through an endless supply of turn-based battles, carved up into three rounds. These can be campaign missions, or they can be beast battles, or tower quests, or they can be side-quests involving secondary characters – civilians affected by the current turmoil, but not directly involved in it.
There’s always a huge selection to choose from, at varying difficulty levels.
Each battle sees you taking a party of units into the field. You can have up to four units in a party, including a designated party leader, and ten parties in your forward army. On top of that you get to recruit a friend for support. These units are beyond your direct control.
Units have two forms of attack: basic and skill, with the latter charging up between uses. You know the drill. You can press a button to make battles play out automatically, and you’ll certainly press it.
That’s because your main input isn’t during the battles, but before them, in the figurative war room. Picking units for your parties isn’t just a matter of choosing the most powerful, or the ones you want to build up to deepen your bench.
Units also have attributes – fire, water, wood, etc – that work differently in relation to one another. For instance, fire is weak against water, but strong against wood, while light is strong against dark units, but weak against dark attacks, and vice versa.
You need to compose a range of parties that can cope with a variety of different attribute profiles.
Cryptract is a gacha game, which means you summon new units through a random gacha process. By spending an orb or 100 Kizuna points you get one summon, and the unit that arrives in your inventory could be a level 5 badass or a total loser.
There’s more than one summoning pathway, though. You can go for special units, or rare units, some of which are guaranteed to be between three and five stars, but at the cost of rare summoning crystals. Most summoning costs orbs, and you can also spend these on during missions to revive your defeated party – a tempting prospect in most cases since you forfeit your loot if you don’t survive all three rounds.
You also pick up units on the battlefield, by completing quests, but these are generally weaklings. Fortunately, they have value as material to be fused with more powerful base units to increase their skill levels.
Of course, most of what we’ve just written could apply to any number of similar gacha games. There are only so many ways to shake-up the formula, and while Cryptract is packed with content, it doesn’t particularly try to innovate.
Except in one respect. Genre veterans will be painfully aware than localization is an expense that many developers try to avoid when bringing a game to a new territory. Perhaps as a result of its PS4 port, Cryptract doesn’t have that problem.
In fact, the writing – both in terms of story and proper English – is outstandingly polished. Cryptract is not a 3D arcade wonder, but a thoughtful, closely plotted storybook adventure, with 2D backdrops and sprites and plenty of text. Written in second person, this text really brings the world to life and gives you some solid narrative motivation for ploughing through the missions.
Cryptract isn’t particularly original, but it’s a well-constructed SRPG with a fair gacha system and tons of content. But it’s the game’s strong sense of narrative momentum that distinguishes it from its genre stablemates.
Check out Cryptract for yourself by clicking here.