Crypt of the NecroDancer

Crypt of NecroDancer is a 2D rhythmic roguelike, which demonstrates how great this mix can be.

Posted by Paul on 30 July 2014 at 3:16PM

UPDATE: The game is now fully launched!

  • Zone 4 is now unlocked! Go forth against that new boss.
  • New characters to mess around with.
  • Plenty of new enemies and secret rooms with new vendors.

Crypt of the NecroDancer is a 2D dungeon crawler roguelike AND rhythm game, about time right? After a very dark and badass looking intro, you play as Cadence and your duty is to dig in the catacombs you feel into and face nefarious environment hazards to fight the NecroDancer, the responsible for stealing your heart and using its beat as the music’s power source!

You decide the gameplay, as your main character moves according to the music’s beat. You move your character with the arrow keys and can activate different items or abilities with combinations of these, and then of course you can always take out your Dance Dance Revolution pad and play with it. You will successfully land hits and movements if you time the arrow keys accordingly with the music´s beat, the NecroDancer’s magic has your heart linked! Kind of like a turn based game but with style. If you miss a beat or don’t time it correctly it will just slow you down and make you vulnerable to enemy strikes. Some unlockable characters vary this gameplay, as some can even make you move freely without accomplishing the game’s main parameter, yet with disadvantages like ‘aggroing’ enemies a lot more.

You start with a shovel that allows you to destroy dirt walls and of course break even harder ones once you get better versions of it (these are not permanent upgrades nonetheless). The game has platform contraptions that affect the music’s rhythm, making it faster or slower. Some will instantly kill your character or drop you to another room below filled with many enemies and a tight arena. Fortunately, environment hazards work as well on enemies so move wisely. You can choose different game modes like hardcore mode (play the entire game without dying and unlock 2 more characters), or easier modes that start you with many upgrades and spells.

There is a wide range of enemies, from classic skeleton warriors, poison spraying fungi to weird personified animals. Each have a movement/attack pattern (for the most part), some can get tricky at first, but it’s all trial and error. Don’t fret! Your “base” has many NPCs that can help you out through your adventures: Hephaestus who’s basically a rogue who steals stuff and sells it to you so you can unlock it as chest loot, these include weaponry of all sizes and armor (these are very intuitive as to how their damage and range work). His neighbor, The Dungeon Master, offers you permanent upgrades like more gold bonus or hit points, highly recommended if you’re not used to this game genre. Next we have Merlin, who sells spells and special rings with unique passive abilities, like a good luck ring for better loot or simply a gold ring for better earnings, a stereotypical variety of spells, yet very worth trying. You can buy them stuff with the outside dungeon currencies which are gems, they are very rare to find so try and save as much as you can, remember this is a roguelike so you’ll lose them after you get killed in a mission, so spend them accordingly before a new run. Then we have the beast master, he trains you in fighting specific enemies simply for practice, and the boss master who lets you fight against unlocked bosses. The game has many more NPCs available to unlock only if you find the golden key and their cage to free them during runs.

While on your missions, you will find different “rooms” that you will recognize as you venture their contents and interiors, most of the time due to their respective tile set designs. One of the most important ones is the opera singer’s shop from where you can buy items with the gold enemies drop. You can find this NPC easily as his shop is surrounded by yellow brick walls and he will SING to the current music louder as you get closer to him. Basically, gear your way down the level until you finish the zone.

Interesting level bosses, each with particular attack patterns. Dragons have high damage with 1 tile set movement per beat. Minotaur with a sprint rush that knocks them to the ground after hitting a wall. Some mini bosses will even mute the song! Of course as you progress, you meet the bosses’ older brothers; fire breathing dragons, tougher minotaur, golems, bats and many more. Each zone has a big boss that has very humorous similarities with the rhythm aspect of the game and sometimes the instrumentation they use, so check them out before spoiling anything!

The game has simple sprites and the pixel art is relevant to the dark fantasy theme. With a cartoonish look, it makes the relaxed and cool language function appropriately. Of course animations are relatively simple, yet are very fluent and smooth with the music’s beat, and a great choice for the color palette according to each zone and somehow react to the type of music, this makes the game visually appealing. Danny Baranowsky is the designer for this game’s OST. The dark electronic music has a great charm. The OST is personally one of the best mixed soundtracks in any indie game I’ve have listened so far, have to say Hotline Miami might have a contender right here. The game has cleverly equalized and well balanced tracks, all with the evil ambience. Sometimes you might want to just listen to the music until you realize it’s over and you have to start the level again, but it was worth it.

Crypt of NecroDancer is a 2D rhythmic roguelike, it has clearly demonstrated that the mix of genres works and does it pretty well. As the game progress so does the difficulty, the key to a successful run is to optimize your movement and actions accordingly to the beat. Now show that NecroDancer your DDR moves, one beat at a time.

The good

  • Amazing integration of the soundtrack in the game.
  • Interesting and dark pixel art.
  • Simple, yet charming voice acting.
  • Challening game modes and character varieties.
  • Rogue-like elements are well balanced with unlockables and progression items/equipment.

The bad

  • Why would you even check if there are bad points?