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Title: Crypt of the Necrodancer
Platform: Steam, Windows

Reviewed on: Windows

Genre: Rogue-Like, Rhythm
Players: Single player, Local Multiplayer (2)

Written by Dragoon 24th May 2015

In a sea of countless copycat games a game with a fresh concept can really stand out and that’s exactly what Brace Yourself Games’ Crypt of the Necrodancer does. A unique blend of rogue-like dungeon delving and rhythm based gameplay, Crypt of the Necrodancer has you literally moving to the beat while you navigate treacherous dungeons filled with an array of traps and terrors. But does it light up the dancefloor or does it just have two left feet?

The games story follows Cadence who goes to the Crypt of the Necrodancer against the wishes of her uncle in order to search for her father who went to the Crypt two years prior to find the Golden Lute. When Cadence arrives at the Crypt she begins digging for an entrance when suddenly the ground beneath her splits opens. Cadence falls into the Crypt, striking her head on a rock as she lands. Fatally wounded, Cadence lies motionless on the floor of the Crypt until the Necrodancer appears and steals her heart, cursing it to forever beat to music. The Necrodancer takes Cadence's heart and heads to his lair deeper into the crypt. She then awakes and sets off after him to find her father and end her curse. It’s a simple set-up but that’s all that is needed to set the game in motion and in a game like this it’s the gameplay itself that’s the real meat.

The game utilises a simple four button directional control layout where you have to tap a direction in time with the beat to move through the randomly generated grid based levels, this makes the game easy to pick up but hard to master and while you may feel like a bumbling uncle dancing at a wedding at first you will feel like you are doing a graceful, precise waltz by the end. The enemy designs are fantastic with a wide range of foes to battle each with their own signature dancing animation and movement pattern, such as a slime enemy that moves in a circle or the goblins that will only come towards you when your back is too them. If you die you have to restart the whole zone so learning these patterns is crucial to your survival, making you strive to get better.

Slaying these enemies rewards you with gold and the amount you earn is increased by a multiplier which increases the longer you manage to keep moving to the beat. Gold can be spent in the shop which is present in each zone, the shops inventory is randomly generated on each level so you never know what will be available which makes every playthrough different. The shopkeeper himself is a fun little character who sings and dances along to the music and this also helps you locate his store since the singing gets louder the closer you are, there are many little flourishes like this peppered throughout the game that really help bring it to life and give it character.

The levels themselves are filled with a wide assortment of objects such as treasure chests which contain items and shrines which give you various benefits whilst coming at a price, for example one shrine gives you a powerful weapon at the cost of your precious health. The most important resource though are diamonds which are used in the hub area to unlock new items and spells to aid you in future runs. Unfortunately these upgrades are very easy to obtain so it will not be long before diamonds lose their worth but it’s a great way to feel a sense of progression.

Each zone contains three levels and to progress to the next level you must defeat a random mini-boss which unlocks the stairs, there are multiple kinds of mini-boss which range from Dragons who can kill you in a single hit if you step to their side to Minotaurs who will charge in your direction until they hit you or a wall. After this you are faced with a random boss which can range from a band of musical instruments to a chessboard like arrangement of enemies. These fights are quite different from the normal dungeon crawling levels and are good fun and make good use of the games mechanics. Beating a zone boss unlocks the next zone in the hub area and there are four zones in total which each have their own signature style, for example zone 3 is comprised of ice and fire areas which both have their own song that changes as you go between them which is a great little touch.

In the hub area you can unlock various upgrades using diamonds, practice fighting the assortment of enemies and bosses in the game using any of the weapons available to you, play through set challenge stages and select which of the various characters to play as. The training areas in particular are very good for getting an idea of all the different enemy patterns without having the stress of death. Each character has their own unique playstyle that changes up how the game plays. You start the game as Cadence who utilises the core mechanic of moving in time to the beat but the other character you can play as at the start, Bard, can move at any time he pleases, this turns the gameplay into a more turn-based affair since the enemies will only move when you do which gives you time to plan your next move. You can unlock characters by completing various tasks such as finishing a zone and there are ten characters in total. It’s good to see a developer really think about how they can change-up and expand on their gameplay and Brace Yourself have done a fantastic job.

A rhythm based game is only as good as its soundtrack and Crypt of the Necrodancers soundtrack is a fantastic mix of songs which shift in speed and complexity as you progress through the zones. The original soundtrack is composed by Danny Baranowsky but there are also two remixed versions of it, a heavy-metal version by Jules Conroy and an EDM version by Alex Esquivel which are unlocked in the new game plus mode available once you have completed the original. These soundtracks are all amazing and deserve to be listened to outside of the game itself. The game also allows you to insert your own custom music which is another great feature that adds replayability.

The developers have heavily supported modding for the game and it already has a fantastic array of mods available through the Steam Workshop which range from simple texture replacements to full on conversions. The game also has a scoreboard and daily challenge available to give the game some long lasting appeal.

Crypt of the Necrodancer is a rare game that brings together two different genres into one new exciting gameplay idea and pulls it off spectacularly, managing to find the perfect mix between charm, difficulty and novelty which is backed by a fantastic soundtrack and rewarding gameplay. The developers did a great job with expanding on the core gameplay through the various gameplay styles available to each character and through the amount of different modes on offer.


Unique Gameplay,

Fantastic Soundtrack,

Plenty of replay value,
Charming aesthetic.


Too few upgrade options.

Final verdict,

Crypt of the Necrodancer boogies on down to a 9/10.

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