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Crypt of the Necrodancer: First Impressions
The resurgence of the roguelike genre has been a big force in indie gaming culture over the last few years and 2014 has already proven to be a continuation of this trend. Dungeon of the Endless, Hand of Fate and Sunset Sea have taken the genre to some new and interesting places and Crypt of the Necrodancer looks to be following on that groundwork with a rhythm game-inspired twist.
The game recently launched on Steam’s Early Access program and I spent some time with it to see if it follows through on its intriguing mechanical premise or ends up just another member of the genre’s rogues gallery.
Crypt of the Necrodancer sees players take on the role of an adventurer trapped in the titular tomb. From there, it’s a pretty straightforward dungeon crawler with exploring and fighting your way through several levels – unlocking new weapons, armor, items and upgrades with each run. The twist on this classic roguelike formula comes in the form of the game’s rhythm mechanics. Timing your attacks or movements to the beat rewards you with multipliers and ultimately makes enemies easier to dispatch.
According to the developer, Crypt of the Necrodancer was envisioned as a response to the popular (Spelunk-Em-Up) Spelunky with early parts of the game being quite hard but rewarding to players who persevere – and my impressions definitely lined up with this.
As someone who finds it hard to get into roguelikes and hasn’t sunk as much time into the genre as many of my friends (with exceptions relating to The Binding of Isaac and Desktop Dungeons), I found the Dance Dance Revolution-inspired twist on the formula genuinely fresh and appealing. There’s a lot of variety to the enemies in the game and each has a unique and recognizable attack pattern that you need to learn to overcome – not to mention plenty of items to unlock. There’s even a local co-op mode – although I haven’t had the chance to test drive it yet.
While the mechanical quirks that define Crypt of the Necrodancer certainly work to differentiate it from its competitors, they would be nothing without stellar soundtrack that accompanies it. The soundtrack in the game is composed by Danny Baranowsky of Super Meat Boy fame and it’s filled with pulsating beats that really add a lot of flavor to Crypt of the Necrodancer’s 1990s cartoon-look. You can even import your own music and set up playlists for each of the game’s levels.
While Crypt of the Necrodancer definitely feels incomplete at present, I can’t say that I wasn’t impressed with what I played. The mechanics and presentation elements of Crypt of the Necrodancer are on-point and all that developer Brace Yourself Games really needs to do now is polish things and make sure the content is there.