Share this project


Share this project

The Crystal Catacombs's video poster

An exploration based, retro action/RPG platformer that incorporates a variety of roguelike mechanics. Read more

Denver, CO Video Games
Share this project
pledged of $7,500 goal
seconds to go


This project was successfully funded on July 6, 2012.

An exploration based, retro action/RPG platformer that incorporates a variety of roguelike mechanics.

Denver, CO Video Games
Share this project

About this project

Extended Goals! Help take Crystal Catacombs to the Next Level!!

  • Base Goal: Thanks to YOU, we've reached our goal! This will most definitely insure that Crystal Catacombs will become a reality! The support shown for Catacombs has been phenomenal and the best part is, we still have weeks to take it even further. So, I invite you to take part in the second stage of the Kickstarter fundraising... The extended goals. 
  • Map Editor: DONE! We will now do everything in our humble power to include with the final version of the game, a customizable map editor! Choose your Crystal Realm template and then customize it with room layouts and enemies galore! *If possible, we'd love to also incorporate some way for you to share your levels with friends.
  • Crystal Realm Design Contest: Do you have an idea for a really cool Crystal Realm that you'd like to see included into the game? Well, guess what? Starting right now, I'm excited to announce that we'll be accepting entries for a backer inspired Crystal Realm design contest!

    Check out the Crystal Realm Design Contest FAQ for all the details!

  • Co-op Multiplayer: Here's where the deal gets oh so sweet. If we reach this goal, we'll especially do everything within our most humbling of powers to give the gamers of the world the joy of being able to play Crystal Catacombs with friends! Imagine exploring a Crystal Realm with fellow comrades by your side! This feature would easily expand the potential of Crystal Catacombs to an entirely new level. It would also require a lot of energy but we would do our darndest to make this feature available to as many players as possible!

Even though Levels or Lives currently consists of a small team, with your support, we could potentially acquire the necessary help and talent to make Crystal Catacombs into something truly special!


General Info:

  • Developer: Levels or Lives is Maxwell Jensen (Design/Art), Dustin Boyd (Project Management) and MaskedEpsilon (Music/SFX)
  • Platform: Initially PC, Mac and Linux (if possible, ports to XBLA, iOS and Android would be great)
  • Genre: 2D > Action RPG > Roguelike > Platformer
  • Completion: Roughly 40%

Crystal Catacombs:

Crystal Catacombs is an exploration based action platformer that incorporates challenging roguelike mechanics combined within a multitude of unique and unpredictable procedurally generated (random) dungeons.

The game includes dozens of different items, weapons, spells, enemies and bosses. It will also feature a customizable inventory and a stat based character upgrade system.

"The gameplay mechanics and visual style of Crystal Catacombs are both greatly inspired by classic games such as Super Metroid and Castlevania. I've made a strong point to try and retain the same vintage appeal while also incorporating my own artistic/game design spin into the development of the game to help make it as fun and exciting as possible."

                                                                                         -Maxwell Jensen


  • Procedurally generated dungeons with randomly chosen room layouts, enemies, special items, treasures and even bosses. No two experiences will ever be the same.
  • Seven different Crystal Realms (levels) to explore. Each with their own unique enemies, traps, hazards, treasures and bosses.
  • Encounter and fight over 20 different bosses and dozens of varying enemies.
  • Discover over 20 Magical Artifacts that can be equipped and used to grant new abilities, such as a the Double Jump Boot, Dragon Armor, Crystal Skull and Grapple Spikes.
  • Collect and choose from several different weapon classes including swords, whips, axes and bows. Each class also has different variations of each weapon type.
  • Unleash an assortment of powerful magic spells ranging from fireballs to summoning powerful creatures to help aid you in battle.
  • Gain experience points to level up and ultimately become a force of glorified and unadulterated power!


The Story of Captain Vasil Ravencraft:

"Captains log,

after days of traveling across the open waters of Celestica I've almost reached my destination. In the center of the Dark Ocean lies a lone island. Upon its shores sits The Crystal Catacombs. A fabled fortress said to contain portals to different worlds. Alternate realms filled with a wealth of treasure, vast secrets... and great danger. Yet, no man has ever returned to tell the tale of what truly lies inside the Catacombs.

As I write this, my fate is uncertain - but as I make my way into the dark abyss, my sense of adventure burns inside me like a great, illuminating flame... And so, I go forth."

-Captain Vasil Ravencraft

Captain Vasil Ravencraft and his Amazing Mechanical Airship. When not exploring the Catacombs, Vasil can return to the surface and enter his airship. Inside, Vasil can restore all HP/MP, save the games progress and use the Captains Chamber to store items for future use.


Crystal Realms:

Each dungeon theme inside the Catacombs will be procedurally generated based on specific properties. Depending on the theme, each varies by size, shape, difficulty (hazards and) enemy types (including bosses), potential artifacts and treasure amounts.

Crystal Catacombs consists of seven different Crystal Realms (level themes). These Realms are unique in appearance and difficulty. Each Crystal Realm is designated to a specific floor within the Catacombs. When a Realm is completed the next floor will be accessible to the player, revealing a new Crystal Realm.

"An ancient castle ruled by an army of the undead, ghouls and ghosts."

"A lush tropical environment inhabited by exotic enemies and dangerous traps."

"A smoldering world filled with maniacal demons and rivers of lava."

"Deep below the surface, these caverns house untold terrors… Few men have made it this far."

"A bone chilling world consisting of only the most resilient and ferocious beasts."

"A strange metal fortress filled with machines that seem to come from another world..."

...and even deeper inside of the Crystal Catacombs lies the infinite madness of the 'Necron'. Only by defeating all Crystal Realms can you discover the true secret of the Crystal Catacombs...


Item Categories:

Several different item categories consisting of dozens of individual items can be found throughout the depths of the Catacombs. Items range from tools that aid Vasil in exploration to magical artifacts that grant powerful new abilities. 

Below are just a few of the different item types.

Healing Items: Healing items include potions and cures for specific stat ailments. It's always a good idea to have a few of these in your inventory.

Equipment Items: Equipment items include tools used to assist Vasil in reaching new areas and general exploration.

  • Grappling Hook: Extends vertically until it makes contact with a surface, can be climbed.
  • Jetpack: Can be used to maneuver through the air - but be careful, fuel is limited!
  • iTab: Using the iTab will transport you to a random location inside the level... This can be good or bad (but always interesting).

Special Items: Special items vary from temporary stat changers to granting Vasil the ability to perform otherwise, impossible feats.

  • Eye of Xye: Used to reveal an undiscovered area of the level.
  • Spirit Guide: Can be used to remotely control a small Spirit Guide to temporarily explore a level. Helpful when you're not sure which way to proceed.
  • Portal: Can be used at any time to exit a level and return to the surface. Lifesavers when you find yourself in a dire situation.

Artifacts: Artifacts are a unique item type in that they can be bound to Vasil to grant new abilities or stat changes. Over 20 Artifacts can be found and equipped throughout the span of the Catacombs.

  • Crystal Skull: Enemies will drop twice the amount of crystal shards.
  • Dragon Boot: Grants the power to dash with great speed.
  • Grapple Spikes: Allows Vasil to kick-flip off of surfaces. Invaluable for exploring those hard to reach areas.
  • Charge Stone: Vasil's equipped weapon can be charged to release a powerful attack. Just remember, this will also consume MP!
  • Leap Feather: By ducking momentarily and then jumping, Vasil will quickly shoot far up the air. Even large chasms can be easily maneuvered through by equipping this artifact.


Weapons and Spells:

Weapons: Amongst the various weapon categories are many different sub-types, some even with special qualities (i.e. fire sword, ice whip, blood axe etc…). Each weapon also has a certain percentage chance of inflicting a critical hit.

  • Swords - Well rounded weapons with average damage, range and speed stats.
  • Axes - Powerful weapons with high damage but small range and low speed stats.
  • Whips - With the ability to extend further than swords and axes, the whip grants Vasil good range with medium damage but suffers from lower speed.
  • Bows - Excellent range, medium speed and low damage. To use a bow, Vasil must have arrows present in the inventory.
  • Spells: Crystal Catacombs includes many different types of spells Vasil can learn to cast, ranging from fireballs, life absorbing lightning bolts, rapid fire plasma shots and even the ability to unleash powerful elemental attacks. MP is a limited commodity within the Catacombs so be sure to use magic wisely.

Vasil conjures the 'Blizzard' spell against the titanic Jelly Snail.


Outside Support:

Since the development of Crystal Catacombs began a little over a year ago, the project has received some very supportive responses, feedback and attention. The fact that so many people have reached out and shown their support means a lot to us. It has proven that this is a project worth pursuing. Below are a few of the websites that have helped show their support for Crystal Catacombs.

Featured on:

Kotaku - written by Chris Carolan

GameZebo - written by Jim Squires - written by Tim W.

Socialtimes - written by Reid McCarter

Thrillest - written by Lee Breslouer

Thumb-culture - interview with Maxwell, conducted by Pazbi Zavatzki



Your contributions to Crystal Catacombs will go towards hiring a team of talented individuals to help take the game to the next level of development. This would include programmers, assisting artists, our musician and the cost of the rewards.

If you've decided to support us, we give you our deepest gratitude. Thank you!

I'll also be posting daily updates concerning all kinds of fun aspects about the game. DAILY UPDATES!

Of course, don't forget to follow Crystal Catacombs on Facebook!

-Artwork by Travis Reynolds


  • How it works:

    -Any backer who pledges $10 or more can submit their very own Crystal Realm idea.

    -Submissions will be accepted until June 30th at 12AM (MST).

    -On July 1st, we'll post our three favorite ideas onto the project page. Each realm concept will also have its respective backer’s own submitted info.

    -Once the final entries have been chosen, every backer will be able to submit one vote to decide which realm concept they like best.

    At this point, as long as we've reached our 30k goal... We'll award prizes when funding finishes! Yay!

    1st Place:

    -Your Crystal Realm idea will be transformed into a pixelized reality by Maxwell and become an actual level which will be included into Crystal Catacombs! You’ll also receive a complete, boxed version of Crystal Catacombs.

    2nd Place:

    -Your very own Crystal Catacombs T-shirt!

    3rd Place:

    -Stickers, decal and buttons!

    Please include the following with your submission:

    A description of your realm, which can be as in-depth as you like. It could be a sentence or a novel (please don't make me read a novel), it's up to you.

    A visual reference consisting of anything from a glittery macaroni picture, to pixel art, to a Renaissance inspired oil painting. Don't worry about your artistic skill, I'll just need some sort of idea to work off of.

    Feel free to tell us what your realm would look like, what kind of creatures would inhabit it, is there a background story to this particular realm? Is it inspired by a favorite game of yours? How's the real estate value of homes in the neighborhood? ...You probably don't have to worry about that last part... But please, get imaginative and have fun with it! If you want, have a friend help you express your idea!

    Also, don't forget to take the current Crystal Realms into consideration when coming up with your own idea. we've already covered some of the standard video game level themes for you (castle, jungle, fire, caves, ice, machine tower and the evil, undead land of the Necron).

    Contest Rules:

    -one submission per every $10 backer

    -one vote per every $10 backer

    -Email submission to Please use 'Crystal Realm Design Contest' as your subject heading and be sure to include your backer name.

    We encourage everyone to enter!

    Last updated:


  • You selected
    Pledge $5 or more

    3 backers

    Desktop Wallpaper - You'll receive several, high quality desktop wallpapers consisting of the artwork from Crystal Catacombs in all their pixelated glory!

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $10 or more

    479 backers

    Pre-Order - (receive previous reward, plus) You'll be provided with a pre-order of Crystal Catacombs. Upon release, the game will be made available to you through digital download.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $15 or more

    93 backers

    Special Thanks - (receive all previous rewards, plus) Your name will be included in the credits under a 'Special Thanks' section.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $25 or more

    166 backers

    PDF Instruction Booklet and Digital Soundtrack - (receive all previous rewards, plus) You'll be sent a PDF copy of the official Crystal Catacombs instruction booklet. This high quality 'NES' inspired booklet will come complete with original artwork and information regarding many aspects of the game. PLUS, you'll also be provided with a high quality MP3/FLAC version of the Crystal Catacombs chip-tune soundtrack composed by the talented MaskedEpsilon.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $50 or more

    35 backers

    Beta Tester - (receive all previous rewards, plus) Gain access to early builds of Crystal Catacombs during the Beta Testing Phase of development. You'll also be able to submit feedback to help make the game even better.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $75 or more

    4 backers

    Gift Package - (receive all previous rewards, plus) You'll receive two digital downloads of the game, two copies of the soundtrack as well as one extra invitation to the beta testing. Invite a friend!

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $100 or more

    3 backers

    Silver Gift Package - (receive all previous rewards, plus) Your choice of one of several high quality 8.5"x11", signed art prints featuring the pixel art from Crystal Catacombs.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $125 or more

    4 backers

    (NEW!) Boxed Version of Crystal Catacombs - Specifically created as an alternative to buying everything included in the 'Diamond Gift Package' - with this, you'll receive your very own boxed version of Crystal Catacombs! Inspired by the package/artwork from the 'NES' era, this nifty little package will also include a copy of the high quality printed, official instruction booklet. Note: The $100 tier and all tiers following are not included with this reward. Also, an additional $10 shipping and handling fee would be applied to overseas pledges.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $150 or more

    6 backers

    Gold Gift Package - (receive all previous rewards, plus) A bunch of neat stickers, decals and buttons as well as a slick Crystal Catacombs t-shirt featuring official in-game artwork. Wear those pixels!

    Note: An additional $10 shipping and handling fee would be applied to overseas pledges.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $250 or more

    2 backers

    Diamond Gift Package - (receive all previous rewards, plus) To show our personal gratitude towards your contribution to this project, we'll make a point to call you and personally thank you for your help. ALSO, you'll receive your very own signed, boxed version of Crystal Catacombs! Inspired by the package/artwork from the 'NES' era, this nifty little package will also include a copy of the high quality printed, official instruction booklet as well as a physical copy of the game in CD format... And they say you can't buy nostalgia, psshh.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $350 or more

    1 backer

    Enemy Designer - (receive all previous rewards, plus) You'll work closely with Maxwell to come up with the look, name and even the attack pattern of your own unique beast. You'll also be fully credited as the creature designer. Note: A first come, first served basis will be used for designing the limited number of larger enemies available.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $500 or more

    1 backer

    Boss Designer - (receive all previous rewards, plus) Conceptualize and design your own boss character to be included in Crystal Catacombs! You'll work closely with Maxwell to come up with the look, name, room layout and attack patterns of your epic monster. You'll also be fully credited as the creature designer.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $750 or more

    0 backers

    Levels or Lives Game Pass - (receive all previous rewards, plus) From here on out, you will receive any future games, DLC content or digital applications developed and released by Levels or Lives. This will also include access to any early beta testing. It's the gift that keeps on giving.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $1,000 or more

    0 backers

    Guardian Statue - (receive all previous rewards, plus) Residing inside the chambers of the Crystal Catacombs, your likeness will be forever immortalized as a 'God of Celestica' in the form of an epic statue. Ultimately, you will play a key role in the shrouded mystery of the Crystal Catacombs...

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $2,000 or more

    0 backers

    Level Designer - (receive all previous rewards, plus) You'll work very closely (hey, not THAT close) with Maxwell to help create a ‘secret world’, complete with theme, enemies, hazards and bosses. If more than one person backs this reward, we'll assemble as a group to make this happen. We have to admit, this would be a lot of fun. However, if we were not to receive this donation, this feature would probably not end up in the final product.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $4,000 or more

    0 backers Limited (1 left of 1)

    Crystal Catacombs' Executive Producer - (receive all previous rewards, plus) By going so far above and beyond the call of duty, you'll take a personal stake in the future of Levels or Lives. By pledging more than half of our goal, we will respectfully give you the title of Executive Producer for Crystal Catacombs. You'll be right at the helm with us in helping create the best game possible. Naturally, we'll have to adhere to some standards like not affecting the principles or integrity of the game but other than that, you'll be considered an official and important team member.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $8,000 or more

    0 backers

    Put Your Quarter Up - You're awesome. Do you know how awesome you are? You're so awesome that Levels or Lives is going to fly you out to the sunny city of Denver, put you up in a swanky hotel for the night and then Maxwell himself will take you on a tour of his stomping grounds. Complete with a feast fit for a king, followed by a trip to quite possibly, the coolest bar ever created - THE 1UP! You bring your game, Maxwell will provide the quarters... and drinks.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $10,000

    0 backers

    Put Your Quarter Up, the PAL Version - The same reward as the previous entry but this is made special for our overseas friends. Don't worry, I've got a translator on my phone.

    Estimated delivery:

Funding period

- (30 days)