Before I get into this gem, I feel I should apologise for missing my article last week. Things have been busy at university and I have been getting waves of depression, lately. Between the two, I didn’t have the motivation or inclination to get anything written in time; not even a sentence review…
Anyway, I am in a better state, this week and have a good one for you all.
During a sale, I decided to treat myself to a game I have wanted since I first heard the title: The Crypt Of The NecroDancer.
When I heard the name, I knew I wanted the game. When I saw the art-style, I was even more attracted to it. When I finally saw the gameplay, I was entirely sold. The final nail in the coffin was when I discovered Klei Entertainment were involved, and I acquired it.
NecroDancer is a new addition to my roguelike collection. It features all the classic conventions of the genre with a unique twist on the gameplay dynamic.
Restart the zone once you die – Check!
Upgrades you unlock to enhance subsequent playthroughs – Check!
Randomly generated levels – Check!
Kick-ass soundtrack – Mega Check!
You play as Cadence, an adventurer in search of answers who dies while digging up a grave. She awakens to find “[her] heart beating like a drum, while [her] blood runs cold.” She doesn’t know she has been enslaved by the NecroDancer, but she isn’t about to let that stop her.
The gameplay takes the form of a dungeon crawler, died with a rhythm game; think Binding Of Isaac meets Dance-Dance Revolution. The game is built upon a grid-based system and only uses the arrow keys. You play the game by moving between squares in time with the beating on your heart, which conveniently matches the music.
Unfortunately, you aren’t the only being in these dungeons and you aren’t the only one feeling the grooves. All the monsters have their own funky moves and all want your blood. You need to time your dancing with theirs to get the edge on them and survive.
Dancing skeletons? Watch out for their waving arms.
Conga Zombies? Catch them from behind.
Bouncing Blobs? Check their patterns and stay out of their way.
Minotaurs and Dragons? Figure it out for yourself.
You see, each dungeon has a boss who has to be slain before you can leave via the stairs, but this also needs to be accomplished before the music ends. After defeating three bosses and surviving the minions, traps and, in some cases, the environment, you discover those were all minibosses and the real boss is here.
The final boss for the zone takes the form of one of four bosses. Depending on the zone you are in, their difficulty is ramped up accordingly. They are all based on music-themed names, most with a little pun, such as Choral Riff and King Conga. They all employ the same concepts of the game, with a slight twist on gameplay.
King Congo has long lines of minions conga-ing around the level, while Choral Riff sends parts of their orchestra to burst through the floor around you.
After defeating the boss, you complete the zone and are rewarded with a cutscene, developing the story. In my opinion, despite the cutscenes being still images with voiceover, they are really nicely drawn and deliver the story effectively.
As a bonus, it seems you can unlock new characters by completing zones, though I can only base this on finishing the first zone.
You see, this game is really tough. Well, I think so. I love everything about it and think it is a reply innovative little game in a less-exciting climate, but it seems hell will freeze over before I complete the second zone…
EDIT : Hell froze over and I got to zone three. Ironically, it is a mix of fire and ice based enemies with dual soundtracks that alternate as you move between the ice and fire areas. Needless to say, I astounded by the level of detail and intricacy which has gone into this game.
So, it may seem a bit biased, but I really like this game. As a music student, wanting to score video games, this is just a perfect piece for me to examine. The use of sound design, audio streaming and progressive integration is just a wonder for me to behold.
Due to it’s rhythm based gameplay, it is vital you get into a groove and keep it consistent, which does mean that if you make a few wrong moves, you can be hitting a “game over” screen very quickly. Too often, I have misread an enemy’s tell and just been slaughtered in a matter of seconds. I place this entirely in my own hands. The game always plays to it’s own rules and keeps everything consistent. I never felt a game loss was cheap or undeserved… Except for Red Dragons… They are brutal, but I feel I just haven’t learnt the correct strategy yet…
I have seen reviews and feedback from less-musicallly-inclined individuals who seem to find the game inaccessible and almost unplayable. This is kind of hard for me to comprehend, but I can see how you would feel a little shortchanged, if you didn’t realise how rhythm dependent the game is.
You should note, IT IS VERY RHYTHM DEPENDENT!
With that in mind, I recommend you try playing it before you buy, if you are unsure of it’s suitability.
Ellen screenshot-ed these pictures by herself. Hey!
And the content is owned by Brace Yourself. Games!
Klei Entertainment helped them too. Hey!
Hopefully they like this article. Don’t sue! =D
Last played, but not completed on 09/12/15 for Steam.
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