Necropolis Review

DISCLAIMER: I also reviewed the game for IGN Greece (you can find said review here). This is my review translated into English by Constantine “Kelfecil” Christakis.


In ancient times, a necropolis was a place of burial or a place of convergence of lots of graves with a view of a more structured building where the dead would rest. That is where the name comes from, the city of the dead (necro = νεκρός (in Greek) = dead, polis = πόλη (in Greek) = city). The story of our world is rich in examples, both from the Greek history as well as from Egyptian, showing us different architectural aesthetics in each era. These, can easily be an inspiration for the creation of many games of our times.

How is that possible though? We can take as an example, From Software‘s creation, Dark Souls. A loved (and hated by some) franchise, that has made people become addicted to hardcore games buat the same time still beats the life out of those that aren’t cut out for challenges like the ones it offers. The recipe for success with Dark Souls is known and successful. That recipe is also used in the same or somewhat different way in the game that we are about to talk about. NECROPOLIS.

 NECROPOLIS is the latest project by Harebrained Schemes, a company that we all know for bringing back the hype with the success of Shadowrun Returns, who now seems to be strafing away, to things that remind us of From Software‘s shenanigans. This allows the developer to bring an alternative choice to the Souls fans. To be honest, before I even got hands on with the game, I expected NECROPOLIS to be a game that would very much look and feel exactly like Dark Souls, but I later realized that I was very wrong. The game does not follow the typical formula that we all know from other Souls games, meaning “kill more bosses….” Instead it plays more like a dungeon dwelving game where the player has as his/her primary goal, surviving as long as possible.
NECROPOLIS is a rogue-lite third person action game that takes players through a huge journey with various dungeons that are separated by various levels. Each level, depending on how deep you’ve gone into the necropolis, has a corresponding level of difficulty and a corresponding variety of enemies, both constantly increasing in number and level. In order for us to manage to stay on our two feet through the chaos that ensues, we will have to equip our character with a variety of weapons, which are divided in tiers and that also provide us with various special abilities and unique attack moves. Despite our equipment, the character does not possess anything else other than your standard hit points and the stamina bar which can both be upgraded by spending money to get a bless at the end of a level. This costs more every time depending on how many you’ve bought.

The currency part of the game is split into gems and tokens with the first being our basic currency that we find either from loot or spread around the area, whereas the tokens are things that we receive in rare occasions through the completion of various tasks or by looting enemies. Since we mentioned them, tasks are basically challenges that we can have an active of 3 at a time and basically ask us to complete various feats. These refresh every time another is completed and they also give us tokens. In comparison to gems, tokens can be used to very specific reasons, such as opening specific chests, buying codexes and buying colours that can change the initial look of our character.

Now, regarding the part about our enemies, the opponents we have to face in the dungeons of the game, differ as much in size as they do in abilities. Surely in the first levels, our enemies are easy, although the “partying” begins later when the more unique personalities make their deadly presence noticeable, showing us that they are not going to treat us with tenderness. So, if their instincts do come out and they do cut us into little pieces, apart from dying, we also lose our progress. The progress has a survival aspect to it and not one that a common game has where a bonfire or some other kind of checkpoint would allow us to continue from where we lost. If we quit the game though, we can always just start from where we left it last time.

So if we aren’t lucky and we get to drop dead, then the only thing we can do is “start from the beginning” and that is basically what NECROPOLIS does in order to punish us. The positive thing about this has to do with the setup of the dungeon since, even though we will pass through known places, the game randomizes the structure every time we restart, making it differ from one level to another without at the same time giving the feeling of repetition. The world of the game is big and full of rooms and secrets which are waiting for us to explore. The atmosphere of NECROPOLIS has a more animated jist to it, with a lot of seriousness and at the same time without looking too much like a child’s game. It has a rather unique and minimalistic aesthetic for the genre that it roams in and the only negative to all that may be a few imperfections here and there regarding a few places and a few noticeable frame drops that fortunately did not take place during important times, such as in combat.

In all of the experience that NECROPOLIS offers, the most fun part of it is its co-op mode where we are allowed to dwelve in the dungeons together with 4 other people online, offering us a team-based and super fun experience which gives another twist to the game for all the people that just felt one person was not enough to take care of things. Personally, having tried the co-op experience on a livestream that we did with Constantine “Kelfecil” Christakis, other than a few friendly hits here and there, the co-op was probably one of the main reasons why I would suggest buying the game. Other than the few extra pairs of hands that you will have with you, the fun is taken to the maximum and it is guaranteed that while you are playing with your friends in the game, it will always go better than it would if we were alone. If there is good communication that is.

One more thing to close off, I have to say that if you enjoyed Shadowrun, then you will surely enjoy the newest game of Harebrained Schemes. Not because it looks like another Dark Souls-like game, but because, even though it follows the footsteps of Souls games, it stills retains its own identity, setting it apart from other games. That is something both positive and attractive for all of the people that are looking for yet another big dose of challenge. A ticket to the city of the dead anyone?

NECROPOLIS is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Steam at the price of 27,99€.


Verdict

The final verdict is as follows: NECROPOLIS as a complete experience manages to impress us by bringing a Dark Souls-like game in a dungeon logic while at the same time maintaining its own identity as a game. It does not follow what From Software has made to the letter. Even though there are a few negative that might disturb you, those are not enough to damage the game that is promising us a solo or co-op experience full of dungeon, exploration and pain.

NECROPOLIS is the minimalistic cousin of Dark Souls.


+Animated atmosphere and huge world
+The co-op mode
+Interesting challenge
+No return after death

Few imperfections in the environment
A few frame drops

Score: 9.3/10

-Vasilis “Eniantas” Kamakaris