Platform: Windows, Steam, PS4, Xbox One
Reviewed on: Windows
Genre: Roguelite, Hack n’ Slash
Players: Single player, 1-
Written by Whistler 31st August 2016
Possibly one of the most diverse sub genres in recent times has been the roguelites, even while roguelite’s popularity have dropped it’s always interesting to see how the genre contracts and expands. Applying roguelite elements to existing formulas can evolve them, and yet potentially break them. Titles like 20XX, Dungeon of the Endless and Enter the Gungeon have thrived on it, whilst The Swindle, Runers, Forced Showdown and others have either underutilized or attempted to use the roguelite formula to glue together too many undercooked ideas. So can roguelite Dark Souls-
You take the role of an enigmatic adventurer who delves into the titular Necropolis in order ‘help’ clean it out of the archmage Abraxis’ treasures.
Goading you all the way is Abraxis’ servant, a giant yellow pyramid with one eye that does little in hiding it’s agenda. Survive the Necropolis’ many floors and you could leave with many magical trinkets and riches, fail however and you’ll be adding a new coat of paint on the walls, red with a hint of brain.
It attempts to conjure up creative complexity from simple variables and on the surface does succeed, however for those familiar with the Souls’ series and roguelite fans, there are cracks within Necropolis’ foundation.
Combat for one, can be enjoyable however it’s clear as day how clunky it is.
Each weapon fits into a specific type with their own set weight and arcs which does help weapons feel different one another but they hardly feel diverse. What’s more is all items are given vague descriptions, which while true to the rogue genre makes trial and error all the more frustrating.
With only weapon tiers to give you an idea, most weapons felt incredibly underwhelming and the hundreds of weapons dropped by enemies all the more questionable.
Along with managing your health you also have to worry about your stamina gauge. Similar to other hack n’ slashes as you lunge, swing, dodge and block you’ll consume part of the gauge. However after a time spent in the Necropolis or should you be overzealous in attacks you’ll notice up to as much as 90% of your maximum stamina will vanish. While this does serve as a decent mechanic to teach player’s balance over button mashing it can also seem overly punishing at times when met with large mobs. To recover from this you’ll need to eat rations either through crafting or discovery, which both heal you and recover your max stamina. They’re usually not that scarce but it made runs when they were incredibly frustrating and punishing for something that isn’t at the fault of the player (especially when it’s so easy to get stunlocked).
Cooperative play with up to three others can help alleviate these issues including the large mobs, however it makes other issues painfully obvious. Playing by myself, in a group of two, and while only once with a full group I noticed the game doesn’t seem to scale based on players meaning what was overly punishing for a solo run became an utter joke for groups. Ai isn’t the sharpest either, the rather scarce roster of enemies will always seem to pile on one player and that player alone. You’ll likely find yourself at odds with the camera far often than bearable also, it works fine enough out of combat but the lock on felt more detrimental as it focuses towards the floor. By far though the most questionable implementation was friendly fire. In conjunction with hordes focusing solely on one player, big group fights became a chore as you desperately try to avoid hitting each other.
Necropolis wears simplicity on its sleeve which holds true for both gameplay and visuals. While to the untrained eye it might seem Necropolis is lacking in the art department it’s strive for simplicity creates a nostalgically charming aesthetic. However environments can feel lacking, with each grey foreboding hallway looking the same as the last. I only ever noticed a change in scenery when swamp areas are introduced some floors in and even then they get samey all too quickly.
Sadly while Necropolis does a decent enough job of standing out amongst the dime-
Drop in/out Co Op.
Clunky design choices feel unfairly punishing,
Lacking visually distinct environments,
Necropolis doesn’t exceed but does score a decent 6.5 out of 10.