Crypt Of The Necrodancer is a rogue-like dungeon crawler game that uses a rhythm system for moving around and attacking enemies, with many modes to play and characters to use.
The gameplay of necrodancer is very similar to a basic dungeon crawler rogue-like; you will be exploring multiple floors of a dungeon collecting gold and equipment, buying items from a shopkeeper, killing enemies of various types, and defeating a boss after a certain number of floors. This by itself isn’t too exciting, as there are many other games out there that work in the same way. What makes Crypt Of The Necrodancer unique is that moving around and attacking enemies requires that you follow a rhythm, and everything else in the game has to follow the rhythm as well.
There is a large variety of enemies that you can run into, differing based on what area of the game you are playing in. Each zone also has a random boss for you to fight at the end, though the final area does have the same final boss for you to fight. Combat in the game is a lot like playing chess, where characters don’t actually “attack” and rather just do damage when something would normally move on top of something else, and one of the bosses is even a chessboard that you must go against. Every enemy has a unique move pattern that you need to watch for, some might just move back and forth while others will move towards you in different ways. There are a few actual attacks in the game, such as the fire dragon shooting fire at you if you’re in front of it, but moving on top of you is the main thing to keep an eye on.
At first you will just begin the game with a dagger and not much of anything else, but there is a lot of random equipment scattered through the levels that can be found. While moving on top of an enemy does deal damage to it, different weapons that you find can alter the range and other aspects of your attack, such as attacking two tiles away or even attacking enemies diagonally. Besides weapons, you can also find armor that will decrease the damage that you take, rings and helmets and amulets and much more that can give you unique bonuses such as floating in the air or healing after killing a certain number of enemies, and spells and consumable items that can help you many ways. If you’re not able to find what you want, as everything is randomly generated, gold can be collected from killing enemies and other areas that you can use to buy stuff from the store, which is located on each floor.
The main way of playing the game is to play each zone separately, as you will return to the lobby after you beat it. While playing through a zone, you can collect diamonds that you can spend on many things out in the lobby to make the game easier or unlock areas to train against enemies and bosses. When you complete or get bored of playing the game normally, there are a few hardcore modes that you can play through that really add to the challenge of the game. The first mode is all zones mode, where you must play through all the zones in a row without dying in order to complete it. Other hardcore modes include deathless mode which is a lot like all zones mode, but it restarts at the beginning when you complete every zone and it keeps score of how many times you beat the game in a row without dying, as well as all characters mode which is a lot like the previous modes, but you must beat the game once with every character without ever dying. Most modes of the game are able to be played with another player locally on the same computer.
Along with the variety of modes to play, there are also a ton of different characters that you can play as, each offering a unique experience through the game. The standard character doesn’t do anything special, she just moves along normally and there isn’t any advantage or disadvantage to playing her. There is at least one character that makes the game very easy for people as he allows you to play the game while completely ignoring the rhythm, and enemies don’t move or do anything unless you do. A few characters don’t necessarily make the game harder or easier and just offer unique abilities, such as Eli who has unlimited bombs but can’t use a weapon and Melody who also can’t equip weapons or attack normally but does automatically damage every enemy around her for simply moving next to and not on top of them. Then there are a bunch of characters that make the game harder, like the monk who will die if he ever touches gold but gets a free item at every store, Dorian who although starts with a bunch of good gear must jump two spaces at a time which makes the game harder than you would think, and others who make it even harder like Aria who only has a dagger and will die in a single hit or if you ever mess up the rhythm.
Even though rhythm and rogue-like games aren’t generally casual friendly, there are elements that allow anyone to enjoy the game. If the rhythm part is too hard, you can change to the bard character who ignores the rhythm all together and enemies only ever move when you do. The normal way of playing the game becomes easier over time as you can collect diamonds to unlock new gear to find and buy permanent upgrades for your character. Standard modes only require you to play a single floor at a time, which can take up to 5-10 minutes to complete. The harder modes will require you to play through all of the floors in succession, so you can easily be playing the game for 20-30 minutes unless you’re very good and are trying to do a speedrun.
This game is perfect for all types of hardcore players, and not just because it is a rogue-like. When the base game becomes too easy for you, the many hardcore modes will be where you will spend most of your time, where none of the standard mode upgrades are available and you must complete all floors in a row. Even when hardcore becomes too easy, there are characters that make the game require perfection, such as Aria who will die instantly if you ever mess up the rhythm. Leaderboards offer a lot of competitiveness as well, whether it is speedrunning or high scores. Simply playing through and beating the game for the first time doesn’t take that long, as the game is meant to have a lot of replayability. There will be diamonds to collect so you can unlock upgrades and items for normal play. Every day there is a new challenge that is the same for everyone and there are leader boards for it. Perfecting and beating the game with all characters and modes will definitely give the game a ton of longevity. If you ever get to the point of not being interested in the game anymore, you can also play it with a second person which can add many more hours of entertainment.
There doesn’t appear to be anything specific or major that they are looking at adding after the game is released, but they do hope to continue adding to it slowly over time. There are a lot of useful options that you can change, which is nice as most games with very simple graphics almost never have anything for you to customize. Most of everything that you can change is whether or not to display certain things on the HUD, such as always showing enemy health, speed run timers, and whether or not you want items to show a hint as to what it does for you.
The graphics are very simple and colorful. It runs perfectly and should work on virtually any modern computer or laptop. The sound, especially the music, is very good and actually enhances the enjoyment of the game. One nice thing about the music in the game is that you can put custom tracks into the levels while you play them, and a new rhythm is even generated from it for you to follow. There is also some voice acting in the game, each character has a few one word phrases that they will say at times while you are playing, and the characters that are part of story mode have voiced cutscenes as you play through the game with them.
Even while the game was in early access, I never noticed any bugs, and there still doesn’t seem to be any, major ones at least.
Crypt Of The NecroDancer costs 15 dollars, the main sound track for 10 dollars, and the extended soundtrack for 5 dollars. If you like how rhythm and rogue-like elements have been put together, and the amount of replayability that the game has, Crypt Of The NecroDancer is definitely worth buying.