Necropolis is a third person roguelike game developed by Harebrained Schemes, and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment, releasing on PC, PS4 and Xbox One in July 2016. Harebrained schemes have a fairly well-known repository of games in their history with the le Shadowrun series of games being their most notable. Necropolis is set in a procedurally generated dungeon that changes shape each time you play.
First of all the art style on the show for this game really peaked my interest upon seeing it on the store page. It has a cartoony look to it that also has very dark and mysterious undertones. It completely grabbed me as one of the game’s stronger aspects after playing. Whilst the game’s world and environment are fairly low quality in terms of texturing and design, it still passes the mark due to the very stylized look and feels. Character and enemy models are again very basic, but due to the style, you can overlook the lack of serious detail. The game does have minimal sound effects; none that really stick in your mind, and the same can be said for the rather bland soundtrack too. We get a cheap-out way of avoiding voice acting by just having some monster mumbling over the top of any text you see on screen; this does come across as very boring and lackluster as it was quite clearly done to avoid having to include proper voice acting for the narrator.
Roguelikes and rogue-lite games are usually right up there with my favorite genre of video games. Thus I was super hyped to try out Necropolis, not only was I was drawn in by the game’s art style, but the thought of having a fleshed out roguelike that had a premium price tag also garnered my interest. Most roguelike games we see released nowadays are in the $10-$20 range so given that Necropolis is way above that I had extremely high expectations. Unfortunately with high expectations comes large amounts of disappointment. The game has a similar gameplay to that of Dark Souls in that it is slow paced and takes on the harder difficulty levels. Having hard game play is not the problem here; it’s the fact that the slow gameplay locks you into doing any sort of action until it has completely played out the animation which will more than likely leave you being smashed on by hoards of enemies in the meantime.
The game also lacks any proper progression system, roguelikes are meant to be played over and over again, each time you will get a little bit further than the last due to having a constant improvement in between runs. You do get some sort of bonus at the end of a run, but this only enables you to purchase very boring and unexciting passive abilities in the form of tomes, these passive benefits can be things such as reduced stamina usage when attacking, and a 5% health regeneration between fights. I would really like to see action abilities, or equipment improvements and definitely more interesting passive abilities that you exciting to be getting an upgrade.
Necropolis also comes with a crafting system that is again, very basic and only resembles another opportunity for enemies to hide around a corner and surprise you halfway through creating a potion and near enough kill you by the time you can retaliate. Apart from this, you will more or less find yourself creating health rejuvenators throughout your playthrough as they are few and far to find in the level itself, leaving you with no other option but to craft them and feeling like you have missed the chance to see some of the other more advanced potions which I very rarely had a chance to use.
The game’s procedurally generated levels are well produced, no playthrough will ever be the same as you look to explore each stage to clear it out of gems, loot, and quest objectives. You will find yourself coming back to a central hub of attraction which usually includes a vendor to purchase new potions and consumables from, as well as an elevator to the next stage, other than that, everything else is completely random.
I have been playing Necropolis for almost seven hours now; this is by no means a large amount of time and I have only ever reached the fourth stage of the game due to the game’s difficulty and gameplay hindrances, right now I am not sure if I have the enthusiasm to carry on, mainly due to the game’s problems. Where Necropolis will no doubt get people coming back for more, is the game’s co-op mode. This is where the majority of people seem to be having the most fun, as for one, everything is better with friends, and secondly the game is a lot more forgiving when there is more than one player around. For instance if you die in single player, that’s it – run over, whereas in multiplayer mode, your partner has the chance to revive you giving you a much higher rate of success and progression; which leads me to believe that the devs core idea behind this game was simply to play it as a multiplayer game, and they just enabled single player at the last minute to please the masses.
Necropolis is a huge disappointment in my book. It is a game that received so much praise and hype before it was even released that it could only fall flat on its face. The fundamental core game design failures make this game feel too much like a bad rip off of Dark Souls, however, if you are planning on playing this with friends you are going to get an abundance of more content and enjoyment out of this title. $29.99 is way too much to be paying for this game either way. Wait until it is on sale for $10 and you will have a decent buy, but until then either wait till the game receives patches and updates from the devs (which I would like to add, they have promised it will get some) or just play Dark Souls whilst you wait for a sale.