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Crypt of the Necrodancer: Review

Roguelike/Music – Nintendo Switch

How can a Gimmick change a game (for good)

Crypt of the Necrodancer would be just another roguelike like hundreds of others in the indie world: 2-D retro graphic, random maps and items… you know the drill. That said, the game would be solid by itself: movement is made in blocks, so is more akin to Chocobo dungeon than Binding of Isaac, to name one. The review itself could actually end here…

But

BUT

A single gimmicks changes all, making the game shine like a unique gem in the overcrowd panorama of 2-D pixel indie games . Here’s the trick: you have to move the character, and act, in tempo with the music. It is just a gimmicks but, you know:

Useless to say, the game become incredibility engaging: enemies pattern become clear and fun to learn, while the pace itself is never slowing, forcing you to avoid skipping a beat, on the penalty of having your coins multiplier reset to zero (and you are going to need the sweet cash to buy upgrades and such

So, here’s how it works: everyone moves in time with the music, one beat at the time. Slower tracks allows more time to think, while faster ones will generally be more challenging. You move one square per beat, making the map like a big chess board (one boss is, in fact, composed by chess pieces…). Move against an enemy, you attack them. Be in the way of a monster when it moves, he attacks you. Simple as that.

It’s not the same without the music, really

Enemies have patterns: some will move every two beats, some moves only in certain direction, some attacks in aoe, some diagonally: learning their patterns and abilities is what makes the game fun and challenging in opposition of some other titles,where stacking equipment hoping for a good combo in the only way of survival on the harshest levels.

There is a LOT happening on the screen, so the game can be incredibly challenging: various traps scattered around the level, cheap enemy positioning and resilient bosses are surely not helping. Yet, there is always a way to improve and recognize your errors since, as many around in the magical realm have the internet have stated, the game is more akin to a puzzle game than anything else, in some ways. That sound a little pretentious to me, but it indeed is true then positioning and moving have a critical role.

The Nintendo Switch version itself is packed with all the DLC, and the portability of the console shine with the game and its short music-themed levels.

Concluding: I am not a fan of the genre, as I eventually become bored. That said, I managed to have fun, even if four levels (plus an extra one) is not really much. A lot of different characters adds challenges of various type to the gameplay, if you wish to go deeper the rabbit hole. Fans of roguelikes will be thrilled, others…probably less. But Crypt of the Necrodancer remains a solid and fun game, and deserves the praise is getting.

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