Platforms: Windows, Mac
Available on: itch.io
Cryptozootography is a turn-based strategy RPG where you get wild monsters, to fight for you a la Pokémon by taking pictures of them! Equipped with just a camera, you take a hike across the Pacific Northwest in search for great photos of rare “cryptids.” The game has been submitted to and named the Best Single Player Game by Seattle Indies‘ Slow Jam 2020, which had “Frighteningly Cute” as its theme.
Though the game is short with only four levels so far, the concept is promising. You play as a photographer whose only abilities are to move and take pictures, both of which she can only do during the day. Night falls when you end your turn, which is when monsters attack and then move to new locations. By taking pictures, you can heal a monster and sometimes even make them join your side, allowing you to move them during the day. You can’t attack any of the wild beasts directly, but you can use your tamed creatures to attack them indirectly.
Each of the cute looking cryptids have a different attack depending on their species, such as a short ranged omni-directional attack, or a sweep of an entire column on the grid. The variety of attacks force you to move to less dangerous spots as well as making you think efficiently when it comes to monster healing and movement. All these factors, including how many HP bars you’ll lose overnights, is conveniently indicated by the UI.
With all that said, selecting characters and actions is easier said than done. For some reason, I had to hover over the characters in a precise way to highlight and select them, otherwise I couldn’t do anything. While this was less of an issue thanks to free undo actions and the ability to end the turn when you’re satisfied, it still wasn’t nice.
Even though there wasn’t a lot to look at, I found the visuals of Cryptozootography to be great thanks to the cute and expressive artstyle, combined with the fluid animations. The cryptids themselves manage to strike a nice balance between unfamiliar and frightening (if only slightly) and fluffy cute, and I’m looking forward to seeing more cryptids from the dev team! The music is nothing special to write about, but I like how the day music is slow and calm, but during the night it switches to a feverish, energetic track with many instruments going off.
While it currently has only four levels, what Cryptozootography has on display is promising and I can’t wait to play more of it as a bigger, more ambitious project. With its simple mechanics that combine into several elements without becoming too complex, even people who aren’t into grid-based strategy games will like it.