I’m not sure exactly how I feel about this game. I like the fact its combat is very Dark Souls-esque. It requires timing and some strategy. But I don’t particularly enjoy losing all my progress upon death. This game walks this weird line where I want to enjoy it but I also want to hate it.
Saying that Necropolis is very Dark Souls-esque is pretty fitting if you know and understand how the Souls series of games work. Third Person RPG, combat that focuses on stamina consumption, and a system that leans towards being very difficult. There isn’t anything wrong with the souls part though, the controls are tight, the combat is fun, and finding new weapons and armor is really neat. What throws everything out of wack is the rougelike nature of it. When you die, you lose everything, there’s no rush back to your dying spot to pick up your equipment because the levels are all procedurally generated. The game wants you to die and start over each time. You could say that adds to the allure, the challenge. But what I say is that it soils what could have been a far better game.
Normally you would run through a level, learn enemy locations and item placements so that you can build a strategy. This is where games like the Souls series can get away with the level of difficulty they do. With the procedurally generated levels in Necropolis, you never know what you’re going to be dealt. It does seem there are a few pieces that are standard, but once you lose the ability to navigate, things become twice as hard. But the issue isn’t within the procedurally generated levels, if it were just that then I’d still be ok with added difficulty. It’s the rougelike elements that really kills this game. Not being able to retrieve your items, losing all the progress that you’ve made in a run, having to do everything over again, it’s all just so frustrating. I live by the motto that “frustration isn’t fun”. You can play this game co-op with friends, unfortunately I was unable to test this feature out. Although having backup to fight with you would be beneficial in this game.
Moving past the game’s mechanics though, the visual style the game goes for is very nice. It’s clean, it’s simple, and it enjoyable to look at. It has this cell shaded vibe about it without the heavy outlines which lends well to the weird character designs found in the game. The armor and weapons I was able to find throughout were exciting to see and some of the weapons just look so cool. It’s just unfortunate that the game is plagued by it’s rougelike nature and you lose it all even after finding something you vibe with. Granted you do earn skill points during your runs by completing quests, which in turn lets you buy codexs that enhance your abilities. So yeah you lose out on a cool hat you found or a weapon that you really enjoyed using for being able to enhance your defense, stamina, etc…
The writing tires to be funny, and it cracked a smile in me occasionally, but it’s not great. Item descriptions never seemed to give important information, they’re just filled with jokes. You’re left to wonder what it is an item actually does. Potions are even worse, The first time you encounter any specific potion in a run, it will be unidentified. You have two options though. You can find a scroll to identify what it is or close your eyes and risk drinking it to discover its abilities. It could help or it could hurt. You just don’t know and when you have to deal with randomness of the level and the risk of losing everything you worked for, you just don’t want to use it.
Writing down my thoughts here and I’ve come to realize that I just didn’t enjoy my time with the game. It could have easily been more fun without the roguelike experience but just having that ingredient in the pie that is Necropolis really soured my experience.
An Xbox One code was provided by the publisher for review purposes