Developer: Hairbrained Schemes
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Platform(s): Windows(reviewed), OS X, PS4, Xbox One
Necropolis is a game that first caught my eye at this year’s PAX East. The first time I played the new Rougelite by Hairbrained Schemes, it screamed Dark Souls. This comparison still makes quite a bit of sense to me, and the idea of a procedurally generated Souls game is still massively appealing, that being said, Necropolis is not without its problems.
The plot is relatively straightforward; you’re a young adventurer attempting to reach the bottom of the Necropolis of the archmage Abraxis. On each run, you’ll be granted tokens of favor based on a score compiled of things like enemies defeated, potions consumed, or completing tasks given to you by the Brazen head, your guide through the Necropolis. You can use these tokens to purchase tomes, which can be equipped to give your character special bonuses, like increased strength, or a resistance to rotten food. Alternatively, you can spend one token at the start of each level to purchase a random piece of equipment from the Brazen Head.
The game features a basic roguelike formula, upon being killed you start with a new character, a son or daughter of a previous one with only certain things remaining unlocked. Namely, any tomes you’ve purchased or Tokens of Favor you have earned. The game also features a crafting system. You can use items from enemy drops to craft food or potions; new recipe cards can also be picked up as you get deeper in the Necropolis.
The biggest problem the game faces comes with its combat. Every action you take in Necropolis feels muddled and restrained. Imagine hitting an attack button in Dark Souls and instead of immediately attacking, your character thinks real hard about it first. Characters in Necropolis move like they’re constantly underwater, and it’s infuriating. Even the window that pops up to show you the stats of new weapons takes somewhere in the window of five seconds to pop up. It may sound like a minor complaint, but in practice, it drives me insane.
Graphically, I really like the look of this game. Simple Polygonal shapes, with dark lighting that makes the bright colors on the characters and enemies pop. This simplistic art style is what first drew me to the game. A polished fantastic looking game it is not, however, it has a certain charm in it’s aesthetic.
It’s worth noting that I never got any hands on with the multiplayer aspect of Necropolis outside of a Boston convention floor a few months ago. I don’t think multiple players would really sway my thoughts on this game, though. I’ve made it through the Necropolis solo and saw no reason to return. The slow moving hang-ups of the combat are just too much for me. You can pick up Necropolis for Windows and OS X now; the console versions will be released soon. Is a venture into the Necropolis of Abraxis worth the $30 price of admission? I say wait for a Steam sale.
Score: 6 out of 10
Thanks, as always for reading. What are your thoughts on Hairbrained Schemes latest game? Let me know in the comments, and please follow me.