REVIEW: Necropolis

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

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By completing missions from the pyramid-shaped entity, he will give you tokens. You can also earn tokens after you die based on how many creatures you killed and how many gems you collected. There are other uses for the gems during a typical run as well, especially with unlocking new doors or using the vendor. Tokens are used for two purposes; they can be used one at a time to unlock special gold chests (which contain outstanding gear, usually armor) or they can be traded in large quantities at the Scriptorium. The Scriptorium is the one major progression mechanic in the game that lasts between characters. You will never gain stats or any other benefit with a new character, but you can equip one of the books that will give you a passive buff or unlock new crafting recipes.

Necropolis | Inventory

The inventory and crafting are pretty simple, but that is necessary when you cannot pause.

Unfortunately, most of those books seemed to be borderline useless. I ended up mostly carrying around a Cookbook to give me more crafting recipes. You will mostly be crafting food once you have cleared out a room. You can go through rations pretty quick, but you only have ten inventory slots so you cannot carry a lot around. But, especially with the recipe books equipped, there are a number of different potions and other devices that you can craft to make your journey easier. This game also makes use of the rogue classical design element of having unidentified potions and magic scrolls. Beware of having an unexpected result, unless you can find an identification scroll for them.

Necropolis | Power

It may not look like it, but she is pretty powerful right now.

Because there are no stat upgrades, and the Scriptorium makes little difference, that means that all character upgrades are in one direction: equipment. It took me a while to get used to this, but the flow of this game is to keep on killing everything on a level until you can (hopefully) find upgrades to your weapon and shield before you move on to trying to find the elevator down to the next level. Ideally you should have at least one Tier 1 weapon and shield before you go down to Level 2. My character above also has a new set of armor, but I was only able to get it from a gold chest (which I had to open with one token). You will desperately start needing those armor upgrades on Level 3. Don’t plan on surviving if you don’t have them. After you have purchased a book or two that you want to keep with you, start spending those tokens on gold chests. Magical chests can very rarely have great weapons and armor, but don’t depend on it.

Necropolis | Pain

I feel your pain, Mr Bones.

That is some pretty severe difficulty which is dependent on a lot of randomness. For my best run I was able to loot a Tier 2 weapon in one of the first rooms on the very first level that randomly dropped off of a little loot monster which frequently appears in the levels. But since this game is a permanent death type of game where you basically lose all progress when you die, that can end up being really frustrating. That being said, this is all about the single player. This game is also a co-op game. For better or worse, the co-op almost makes this an entirely different game. Since your partners can revive you at any time with only some minor damage to your stamina, and you can easily restore that with crafted food, that almost entirely removes all difficulty to the game. It’s possible for you to all die if you are really dim and decide to take on a whole room of enemies instead of just one group, but that would be really stupid. This game ends up just being a fun co-op action RPG in multiplayer, while it is a brutally difficult single player game. Also the enemies don’t seem to take any more damage or do more damage or appear in more frequent quantities when you are playing co-op. So if you really want to get to the end of this game, don’t bother banging your head against the single player. Join a group of four. It will be rather easy.

Necropolis | Switch

There are some switches and minor puzzles, but Zelda this is not.

On the PC there were some pretty serious bugs. Thankfully for the PS4 version I experienced little of that. That being said, the random generation did not always work out quite as well as you would like. There were definitely instances of the enemies getting stuck in locations where they should not have been placed, but at least I was not randomly falling through the floor. Another issue that I had was with the sound effects. There is no real voice work here, other than the kind of muttered nonsensical words that you find in Zelda games, so they had a lot more time to work on the sound design. Unfortunately they did not use that time very well as the hits sound very hollow and clunky, and the sound of enemies will often occur in a different direction from where they really are. At least the music is quite good. There are not a wide variety of music tracks, but it never felt annoying enough for me to turn off the sound while I listened to something else. Possibly the most damning complaint, however, is this game got rather boring. The randomly generated levels may seem like a good idea at first, since the levels will always be new and different, but in practice that made them all feel very samey and run together into one bland and boring labyrinth.

Necropolis | Neglect

They also neglected to drop any maps, so getting lost will be rather common.

The labyrinth you are exploring will feel endless. It is easy to get lost because it all looks similar and you have no maps, inventory or mini-map display. You can craft some chalk, but your materials are better spent on potions and food. You definitely need to add on potentially getting lost into your exploration time. All told a good run will be around 5 hours in single player. In multiplayer you should be able to finish the game by that time, so this game is not meant to be very long; it is meant to be played repeatedly. For multiplayer I can see some hooks here and there which would make that an appealing process, no matter how bland the environments are. But, in single player I have very little compulsion to ever play this game again. Honestly, I feel that the $29.99 price tag is a little steep for an experience like this. Not that the developers don’t deserve to make a living, but more because other roguelike games that are better crafted can be found for less money. Still, this is not a bad game, and they did improve it from the PC version. I think there are a lot of good ideas here that would be better with a more artistically crafted and designed experience, maybe in a sequel.

Review Score

Review Copy Provided By Publisher

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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