Mortal Kombat 11’s Krypt is rad, even if its randomness is a drag

Mortal Kombat’s Krypts are more than simple unlock screens and currency dumps. In Mortal Kombat 11, the Krypt is a third-person action game. It’s this generation of Mortal Kombat’s best surprise, even if I can’t get past the grind-heavy economy.

Mortal Kombat 11’s Krypt takes place on Shang Tsung’s island — a familiar location for Mortal Kombat fans. I play as a mysterious traveler, and I wander the island looking for secrets and hidden items.

Only a few steps into Shang Tsung’s island, and I find my first Mortal Kombat relic: the hammer of Shao Kahn. With my new tool, I smash through a few nearby walls. The small opening corridor branches into new paths. This is Mortal Kombat 11’s Krypt. It’s a place to go and spend my hard-earned Koins from the game’s various mode, but it’s also a clever throwback to Mortal Kombat history.

As I explore the island, I discover the famous courtyard, where Shang Tsung and his monks watched the first Mortal Kombat tournament. I come across the statues of Raiden, Goro, and Sonya Blade.

Mortal Kombat 11’s Krypt opens up over time. My first foray took several hours of exploration before I ran out of Koins and other currency. More than once I felt like I’d run out of new places to explore, and even still I found items lurking behind puzzles or down a missed hallway.

It’s a nostalgic trip for Mortal Kombat fans. Not only am I collecting the spear of Scorpion or the blindfold of Kenshi, I’m walking around my first fighting game memories. The Pit stage from the first Mortal Kombat is prominently featured in this iteration of the Krypt.

I remember spending hours as a kid trying to knock my teenage sister into the spikes below, fully aware that I was playing something too “mature” for my age. Standing on a 3D, high-definition version of that bridge and watching Ermac plummet to his death was a reminder of hours spent sitting in front of my Super Nintendo. They were simpler times, with digitized actors swaying back and forth in cheap ninja costumes and a green leotard.

No matter how fun the island is to explore, I eventually run out of Koins. Without the ability to open chests and look for random skeleton keys, I’ll never see the hidden Reptile Easter egg locked behind one of the final doors.

Even with the update to Towers of Time, I still need luck on my side to earn keys. Doors I was looking forward to opening will stay shut forever unless I grind out Hearts, Soul Fragments, and Koins. To play the Krypt, I need to leave the Krypt, and my moment has slowed as a result.

Mortal Kombat 11 created a miniature Metroidvania inside the world of Mortal Kombat. It’s a reminder of how fresh the series can feel, even when it’s playing on nostalgia. I can only hope the reduced grind can propel me through those locked doors.

But even if I never go back, it was nice to feel like a kid again for just a few hours. When Mortal Kombat 12 comes out, I probably won’t remember 11’s frustrating initial economy or my half-finished Krypt. I’ll remember holding down-uppercut in my basement, watching my sister’s avatar plummet into the pixelated spikes below.

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