Giving a wide variety of dungeons and scenarios for players to experience, Crypt of the NecroDancer is a Roguelike RPG game which actually takes the key principals of the Roguelike genre seriously. Designed by Ryan Clark and Brace Yourself Games, a huge gameplay twist is applied to the title as players are tasked with keeping their rhythm similar to something out of a Dance Dance Revolution style of play. There can even be dance pads hooked up to play! The soundtrack included in the game provides a tempo for the bouncing and bopping to commence to which even garnered an honorable mention for 2015 Game Developers Choice Awards for Innovation and Best Audio among other moments of significant industry recognition. The soundtrack gets new tracks unlocked as the game progresses as well as is extended if players reach New Game+ / New Game++ modes allowing for unlocked gear to be carried over. Alternatively, a custom MP3 collection can be used as a user soundtrack.
Learning how enemies will take their moves each turn is a key pattern cognisance challenge that must be factored into every jump and step. Not only is the energy of attacking with playable characters to the speed and form of the music important but also taking note of enemies around and how they will be dancing to the tune as it were with intentions on destroying them efficiently.
Throughout the game gear is collected such as bombs, new weapons, currency spent on upgrades (some of which are permanent), and all the while players can keep their combo going by jumping onto colored squares in succession as well as paying attention to the beating heart in the center of the screen in order to more perfectly match the rhythm of the soundtrack. A variety of playable characters are unlocked as the game progresses, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, and in addition to that new game modes give life and replay value expanding Crypt of the NecroDancer further and further with each passing hour. Each dungeon has a good variety of normal enemies, mini-bosses, unlockable regions, and final bosses. But don’t take too long, if a song reaches the end of its playthrough then so does your playthrough of that given level!
Whenever a player dies they lose their progress in terms of equipment and gold coins, but are allowed to keep their diamonds (for unlocking upgrades) and any zones completed will show as such giving access to start from a newer level right off the bat. There’s a level editor that comes with this game, Steam Trading Cards, leaderboards, mods through Steam Workshop, and Achievements, so it’s not lacking for features either. The storyline revolves around the first character Cadence landing in the crypt to find out the answers to her quest, but dying along the fall (presumably) and being brought back to life with some sort of musical curse by a necromancer. Sometimes the music of Crypt of the NecroDancer takes on a filtered effect, slows down, or even sounds 8 bit. This is due to different tiles the player jumps on that modify the gameplay for a given amount of time causing enemies to be more or less formidable.
There are a few very interesting ways to play the game including on the keyboard or with a DDR pad of course which we’ve covered, but also using an Xbox controller which employs the X, Y, B, and A buttons as directions to move in for ultimate accuracy and timing to be achieved. Moving to the beat seems easier than ever when playing in this manner. Grabbing swords, diamonds, gold coins, and slaying dragons is all even more intense when playing local co-op (two players on a single machine) but imagine how hectic that can be when you are playing as both players. I tried this out, with one character mapped to one side of the keyboard while the other was on the opposite side. It was pretty fun, but I’m not sure how viable it is late-game. I’m sure somebody more skilled than me could pull it off.
Official Gameplay Trailer:
What really makes Crypt of the NecroDancer work is the way in which music flows to gameplay / combat. It’s really great that the title stays true to its roots in terms of item accumulation as well. The variety of weaponry and how players can horde up a mass of upgrades in between levels is a good balance for the roguelike genre and does well to provide the best of both worlds for seasoned RPG players looking to jump into this title. The creativity put into gameplay design in terms of its rhythm system is an excellent, fresh take on RPG games and there are plenty of spells and loot to keep gamers going once inside the crypt itself. Crypt of the NecroDancer gets an 8 out of 10 from RealGamerNewz making it one of RGN’s Silver Games of 2015.
Overall Score: 8 / 10
RGN Rating: Silver Game
Developer: Brace Yourself Games
Publishers: Brace Yourself Games, Klei Entertainment
Available On: Windows PC, Linux, Mac OS X, SteamOS
Buy From: Steam (Officially Authorized by Game’s Dev / Publishers)
Played On: Windows PC
Review Copy Info: A digital copy of this game was provided to RealGamerNewz for the purpose of this Review.