STAFF REVIEW of Necropolis (Xbox One)

Monday, October 31, 2016.
by Brent Roberts

Necropolis Box art When you think of games that test your patience to the point where you can envision a controller flying through your television, games like Dark Souls instantly come to mind. Developer Harebrained Schemes plays upon the very mechanics of that title, one that literally pissed off gamers, yet at the same time made devout followers of those who adored it, and released a game called Necropolis. However, these developers decided to take things to a whole new level with Necropolis, but did they cross the infamous line in the sand? You decide.

Right from the beginning you're going to find that Necropolis is simple, like smash your head into a wall kind of simple. Get from point A to point B, kill everything in sight, and do not die. Let me repeat that that last point: do not die. Harebrained Schemes decided that Necropolis will have the same dungeon crawling adventure style that millions love. However, they were not done there because they thought it would be fun to incorporate similar death mechanics that you can find in Dark Souls. As you progress through each level you can find better weapons, items, and gear, but should you die you will start all the way back at the beginning of the entire game and lose everything.

This really helps to decrease the replay value for one simple reason, as almost everything in this game is either hidden from you or not explained at all. Case in point, take the story. There barely is one. Apparently you have to make it from the top of the pyramid that you're in to the bottom or center, and the game never really explains anything as to why or how. Thankfully you at least get a wall image that depicts the control scheme at the beginning, but the rest of the time the dialogue that transpires is more poor comedy and nonsense than anything useful. You almost start to wonder why developers would do such a thing.

Necropolis is a multiplayer game at heart but it can be played solo. Having an Xbox One Elite controller falling apart in my hands while I was playing, I have come to the conclusion that should you decide to play through it solo, some form of therapy is in order because you are setting yourself up for massive disappointment after massive disappointment,here's why; You have to balance the use of the brilliant lock on mechanism because normally the game will send room after room of enemies after you, and when you're locked on, you won't see attackers coming from behind. Then you'll have to balance your stamina, and everything takes stamina such as dodging, rolling, jumping, swinging your sword, and using your secondary weapon. All of these extras expend your stamina which you'll have to figure out because the game never explains that to you either. Oh, but there's more.

Nothing in terms of codex and secrets are explained either. You can navigate through the game and find a codex but you have absolutely no idea what it does or how it helps you in any way. And for some strange reason Necropolis actually finds all of this sadistic humor funny as it taunts and mocks you throughout the game. Not only does it do all of this, but when you go to reload after dying, normally you would see some form of in-game information that would give you some clue as to how to pass or handle certain areas but nope, not here. Instead you get snarky comments that pass off as intelligent, but in reality it's meaningless banter.

It goes without saying that playing in a group is almost a requirement if you feel that any progression is going to be made, but the dungeon randomization does seem to do the trick for solo play. However, you can rapidly find that the desire to replay the pyramid over and over again diminishes greatly thanks to the randomizer being pretty shallow. I did enjoy game's visual style though. I really felt a minimalistic sense on display here and the notches of color that are selectively shown really give Necropolis an almost back from the dead kind of feeling. The soundtrack though was like the plot; next to invisible.

Make no mistake, Necropolis is a very hard game, and should you be playing solo, it is a game that is shockingly and absolutely brutally hard as it tries it's best to keep you in the dungeon for all eternity. On top of this, being priced at $30 makes Necropolis a really hard sell simply because other games that have pioneered the type of gameplay mechanics found within have already been out, are cheaper, and more exciting to play. When you essentially blindfold your gaming audience and expect them to trudge through the game's levels, I struggle to think of a reason to plunk down the price of admission. If you're a fanatic for games like the Dark Souls series, then you may find your sadistic kicks in Necropolis, otherwise your money is better spent elsewhere.

Overall: 6.5 / 10
Gameplay: 6.5 / 10
Visuals: 6.5 / 10
Sound: 6.0 / 10


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