REVIEW: Necropolis

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

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Necropolis Title Screen
Title Necropolis
Developer Harebrained Schemes
Publisher Bandai Namco
Release Date 10/4/2016
Genre Roguelike Action-RPG
Platform PlayStation 4
Age Rating ESRB T for Teen
Official Website

At first glance this game has an aesthetic that will remind you of a cross between a dark Legend of Zelda: Windwaker and early PlayStation 1 games. There is some cuteness to the character and many of the enemies, and by all indications the large polygons are an artistic choice. Strangely enough, even with the very large polygons, the PC system requirements were not very simple, so I would not expect to find this title on the PS Vita. From my experience with the PS4 version, I would say that most of the system load would be in the lighting and shadows, which were generally quite good. Once you start the game, it’s pretty apparent what you are playing, and that is a roguelike action-RPG.

Necropolis | Control Scheme

The control scheme will remind you of a very prominent series.

The first thing you will notice is that there is very little character choice. You have two choices of characters, the Nightstalkers and the Brutes, and then you can choose the gender and color. It is actually very notable that the Brutes are there. That means the PS4 version of this game is based on the 1.1 update of the PC version, called the Brutal Edition. Originally when this game came out there was only one class. There are some differences between the two classes, but not enough to make a huge difference between life and death. They each have a different dodge and the armor sets are different between the two, but those are the only differences that I could find. I did try to play both classes equally for review purposes, but I found that I just liked the look of the Nightstalkers better. The gender and the color pallet have zero effect on the gameplay, so I always chose the females with the purple outfits.

Necropolis | Environment

There is some storytelling and world building here, but mostly it’s environmental.

Your characters don’t have any real personality, and they certainly don’t show any emotion, so if you are looking for character building you will not find it here. There is some amount of world building, but most of it is environmental storytelling. That means that there will be runes on the walls you can often read, and some statues and structures that will be interesting. Strangely enough, the runes are a mix between story building and pure humor. And then there are the loading screens that are a direct mix between the two. The tone can feel a bit discombobulating at times. Given the silly look of some of the monsters that is a bit understandable, but so much of the aesthetic is dark and dreary that I’m not sure that mix works out to the benefit of the game. It seems that they put the humor in there more so they could get away with not building a massive world story or having to worry about consistency.

Necropolis | Combat

The combat feels like a mixture between Souls and Zelda.

With the control scheme, I expected the combat to feel more like the Souls series of games. Other than the jump button it works almost exactly the same, with the different types of shield attacks and the different strengths of attacks. Each weapon also has a super move that will take a while to charge while holding down the button. They tend to do a large area of effect move with heavy damage, but the disadvantage is that it lowers to your stamina bar, so you will have less stamina available for weapon swings until you heal that damage. But, in practice, instead of feeling more like that series of games, it felt a bit more like Zelda. A large part of that was because the collision detection on the enemies and your character is rather simple and rough. The areas are also (predominantly) a lot larger than the Souls areas, so you will typically be fighting larger groups than you would in the other.

Necropolis | Level

Going down a level raises the rank of the enemies and gives you new missions.

That is not to say that this game is as easy as a Zelda game, though. The combat can still be brutally difficult, especially if you get surrounded. As a roguelike with random loot, you can also find yourself well under-equipped for the enemies that you are facing. The purple shark-looking monsters that can occasionally appear on the first level were responsible for more kills on me than any other creature in the game. You can literally open the very first door and find one, and with one hit he can take off over half of your health. The randomness of the level design and loot drops make me classify this as much more of a roguelike than a Souls-like.

Necropolis | Scriptorium

The Scriptorium is the only real long term progression system in the game.

More Rogue on Page 2 ->

About William Haderlie

Born in the 1970's, I've been an avid participant for much of video game history. A lifetime of being the sort of supergeek entrenched in the sciences and mathematics has not curbed my appreciation for the artistry of video games, cinema, and especially literature.

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