Haven Review: Crypt of the Necrodancer

Disclaimer: No money was exchanged to write this review and we were given a code for the game.

CryptCrypt of the Necrodancer is one of the most fun games I have played in years. Its also part of one of my favorite type of games, a rogue-like/rogue-lite (but more of the rogue-like sides). So of course many people are both into and not into rogue-like games so most people can already know what to expect, but unlike most rogue-like games, it’s not as brutally difficult.

Necrodancer is a game where you are dancing your way through dungeon floors and dancing to fight enemies, and pick up items, open doors, use items, etc. Everything is tied to the groove of the music, and if you don’t stay in time with the music then you’ll lose a gold multiplier. Yes, on top of it being a rogue-like, it also high elements of other games, like the score-attack games, dungeon crawlers, rhythm (kinda obviously), and rogue-lites (like permanent unlocks). All of these come together in a beautiful way to really create something very special. Necrodancer is such a breathe of fresh air after the amount of uninspired and almost “copy-paste” job that a lot of games, including indie titles had last year, even though there are many games that I loved and still love (Like Rebirth and Transistor). But the reason it is more creative is simply because of the movement system. Every action is done with the arrow keys (and the enter, esc keys for menu navigation) for movement, looting, attacking, buying items in the shop. Which sounds limiting, right? Not at all, it makes perfect sense in the game, and the controls are easy for anyone to pick up.

There is so much content in this game, loads of stuff to unlock and figure out. I haven’t even unlocked all the different characters you can play as. And recently just unlocked all the items from the top 3 merchants (which are also unlocked when you play the first levels). There are hundreds of hours worth of content if you want to see 100% of what Necrodancer has to offer. It’s kind of insane when you think about it, and something that I love deeply. This is definitely something I am going to sink in many many hours into and become a very skilled player.

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The design of the game is both great, and not-so-great. For me personally, I actually like it, but to many other people I can see people having problems with it. In the later levels, many of the enemies start moving in a diagonal position (from a progression standpoint is brilliant), and you never can. This can make for some frustrating deaths or damage taken due to enemies attacking you around corners or having a very hectic screen with many enemies doing different patterns on it. But even though some enemies can seem kinda cheap, there are also some items in the game that can be cheaply used against the enemies, so on each end there are very powerful combinations or attacks that can be used. Which is something I enjoy, I enjoy having to learn all of the enemy patterns and working around all of them going at the same time but it would be something I can see many people disliking (if they aren’t into rogue-likes).

So far I haven’t had that many complaints, the unlock system is fair, there is loads of content, the music is fantastic, the art style is quite enjoyable and pleasant. If I were to have any kinda problems with Necrodancer, it would be having extremely hectic screens in the late game (but something I’ll come to love as I get better at the game). Boss verity can be lacking if I plan on putting in hundreds of hours into it, no controller support (playing local co-op with my sister in the living room with her on the controller and me on the keyboard would be better than both of us on the same keyboard) (pls add controller support <3). And the custom music can sometimes break the system, which I 100% understand being a musician myself.

I never touched up on the co-op, soundtrack or custom music, so I’ll go through them quickly here.

The co-op is actually a lot of fun, and is was made me get the game originally. I play Necrodancer at a friends house at the beginning of 2015 and automatically fell in love with the game (even though its been on my radar since it originally went on Steam) but after finally getting my hands on it I knew I had to get it once it officially came out. You both are on the same screen and have to move to the music at the same time, it doesn’t break the AI that much either, of enemies that target you will attack the closest player to them. If one person loses the beat, then the multiplier is lost for the team.

There is a custom music option in the game where you can add in your own phat beatz. Most of my songs that I’ve played with have worked beautifully (mostly music from Monstercat, Tasty Network, other elecrtonica music) But sometimes the algorithm to find the beat doesn’t work out quite right, but I will say that it is very accurate 97% of the time. Some of my favorite songs to play with at the moment are:
Dragula – Rob Zombie
Badboi VIP – Pegboard Nerds
Get Crazy – Muzzy
Joyride – Draper
Top of the World 2 – Stephen Walking

Most of the time I play with the default soundtrack, which is phenomenal. The original soundtrack was made by Danny Baranowsky, the same guy that did the soundtrack for Super Meat Boy, The Binding of Isaac, Desktop Dungeons, and many other great games (with great soundtracks) Each zone has a theme to it which makes very memorable tunes that have a very “dance-able” tone to it. I’ve actually been listening to the soundtrack since last year quite often, and it’s very nice to see it complete. Along with the default soundtrack they also made 2 complete remixes of every song in the game. One was by a guy that goes under the alias of FamilyJules7x which did all the heavy metal versions of the music which will be played when you play as the character Aria. And another artist that goes by A-rival did remixed album of the songs that would be played when you are the character Melody.

So there is so much work, love, care, and inspiration put into Necrodancer and it really does show. One of the best games you can pick up in recent years and probably for years to come.

-Scott Harris-

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