I believe when people typically play Dark Souls series games, there are two stages. The first stage is the ‘are you even serious’ stage of shock and awe, and trying to understand why someone would make a game this pointlessly difficult. It’s entirely likely that someone will stop at this stage and move on. The second stage (which I gloriously ascended to eventually) is the stage of wonder and self-satisfaction, and admiration for the profound level of effort From Software put into their games. Souls games are recognized by their fans as being marvels of level design, combat and even storytelling. So when a game decides to basically clone Dark Souls, it has an awfully large set of spiked boots to fill. And Necropolis doesn’t manage to fill those shoes at all.
Let’s start with some background on Necropolis. Necropolis is a dungeon-crawling roguelike with procedurally generated levels (like Diabo for example) that features 4-player co-op. Now, right off the bat I wasn’t really able to review the co-op, because it requires friends to also have the game. As nobody on my friends list owns Necropolis, I had to make a go of it solo.
when a game decides to basically clone Dark Souls, it has an awfully large set of spiked boots to fill
Now, as I mentioned before, Necropolis is essentially Dark Souls in terms of combat. The attacks are mapped to the shoulder buttons and the bumpers, enemies are persistent and tough, and you have a stamina meter. Of course, since Necropolis is an indie game, the combat doesn’t really have any of the finesse we’ve come to expect of the Dark Souls games. It’s kinda clunky, and it doesn’t have the same range of motion and movement dynamics. It does a decent enough job, but what it boils down to is a poor man’s Dark Souls. Now, while the game managed to take Dark Souls’ combat to an extent, it didn’t take any of Dark Souls’ depth.
The main reason for this is because, unlike Dark Souls, Necropolis’ levels are procedurally generated. Even as a roguelike, Necropolis doesn’t really function that well. While most roguelikes have you moving from room to room, Necropolis has you travelling through massive underground caves with enemies popping up in the large spaces. Now, in terms of world building, the game actually looks pretty well-designed, and they’ve definitely managed to create a vaguely Burton-esque underworld. They make pretty good use of the colors, and they manage to give everything a sense of scale and wonder. On the flipside, this means the game’s pacing is kind of awkward, and the game feels empty a lot of the time. It’s not helped by a real lack of content. Honestly, the game does not feel like it’s worth $30. The co-op aspect could have helped it, but getting 3 of your friends to pony up $30 for a Dark Souls indie dungeon crawler is gonna be a tough sell.
Friends or not, Necropolis is a typical roguelike, and the name of the game is repetition, and as you die again and again, you get better. The problem for me was that the game never really grabbed me, so after a few deaths I was already done with it, and I didn’t have much interest in building up my character and braving the depths. The problem with aping Dark Souls is that you will inevitably be compared to Dark Souls at every turn, and found lacking. Since the Dark Souls games now have 3 installments on PC and both current-gen and old consoles, I have plenty of options if I want some bleak dungeon-crawling action
Necropolis was reviewed using a PC downloadable code of the game provided by Namco Bandai. The PC version was tested on a PC running Windows 7 Pro, with a 4GB NVIDIA Geforce GTX 970 fitted on a 4th Generation Intel i7 4790 3.6Ghz CPU and topped with 8GB of RAM. The game is also available on PlayStation 4 and Xbox in digital release. We don’t discuss review scores with publishers or developers prior to the review being published.
• Eerie and well-designed underworld
• Control scheme is familiar for Souls fans
• Lack of content
• Combat controls can be clumsy
• Progression system lacks depth