You know what I love about Indie games? Since they don’t have hundreds of employees to support and big investors to please, they don’t have to stick to proven formula. Sure, there are tons of ‘Survival’, Early access games on Steam, but there’s also games like Limbo, Undertale, Invisible Inc. These are games their developers experimented with, and it paid off. They deliver unique experiences that we otherwise would’ve missed. Crypt of the NecroDancer is one such game.
It’s is essentially a rogue-like (for those of you who don’t know, it’s a genre named after the classic game Rogue) dungeon crawler, but unlike a simple turn-based game, you have to make your moves to the beat. It’s a very interesting mechanic, and it works brilliantly!
This game’s all about the music. The soundtrack really gives you a feeling of rhythm. The sound effects, like a sword slash or potion intake, match the beat. There’s even a feature for using custom soundtrack, so you can play to the beat of Ed Sheeran’s Shape of You. I myself tried a-ha’s hit from the 80’s, Take On Me. Works like a charm!
The story plays out across ‘zones’. There are 4 zones in the game, with each zone consisting of 3 randomly generated levels, and a boss fight. Each zone provides new enemies and soundtrack. Missing a beat gives the enemy extra turns and reduces your score multiplier. The enemy design is great, with each type moving according to a certain pattern. Essentially, all you have to do is identify the pattern and find the opportune moment to strike. Each zone cleared unlocks a piece of the story.
The controls are quite simple, requiring only four buttons (usually the arrow keys) to move, attack, throw and use an item. It seems you can use a Dance Pad too, but as I don’t have one, I can’t test that feature. There are also a couple of different characters you can play as, other than the main protagonist. These change the gameplay a little, and some also change the soundtrack to a different theme.
As you would’ve noticed by now, the game’s got pixel-graphics. Now I know a lot of people who’d scorn at pixelated visuals, but there’s been a rise in popularity of this kind of art. Wrapped in by the nostalgia of the games of old, developers and players alike have come to embrace this ‘rebirth’. And so have I.
I, who haven’t really played many games from the 20th century, am somehow captivated by the simultaneous simplicity and depth of pixel art. So much that I’ve attempted at creating some myself(with mixed results).
Coming back to the game at hand, it’s got pretty good art. The enemies are all suitably animated to dance in whatever way they can, which is nice. Everything keeps with the musical theme.
The random generation keeps each encounter interesting, and the music keeps it addictive. I’ve easily put over 15 hours into the game, and I haven’t gotten tired of the music or enemies yet. The boss design is amazing, each with it’s own theme. I won’t spoil them, but they’re really interesting and fun to beat. Did I mention there’s 2 player local multiplayer?
Quite obviously, if you’re hearing impaired you shouldn’t buy this game. There are visual ques to the beat, but the experience isn’t worth it. The colour blind will also struggle with identifying monsters and should also probably stay away from the game.
Overall, I call this a must-play! The innovative game design makes this one of a kind. It’s is easily one of my favourite indie games to date. So, if you’ve got neither of the problems I mentioned above, I recommend you play this game. Immediately.