The Pax East show floor was jam packed full of games all trying to pull peoples’ attention. Harebrained Schemes was here to show a game: Necropolis. Necropolis is a roguelike in the style of Dark Souls or Demon’s Souls. You take control of a hero, one of a selection of classes. Much like any RPG, each hero has special skills that all allow them to fight and defend in slightly different ways. I selected a knight like class and decided to jump right into the world.
The first thing I noticed was the simple flat polygonal style that the world was built with. Everything looked sharp and clean; an odd combination of Tron and Zelda. The light purple and blue colour palette was pervasive, yet even with this unique visual choice, it also felt as though it was a place of magic and fantasy. Where Dark Souls opted for a gritty and cold setting, Necropolis went very much in the other direction.
What really set Necropolis apart though, was the combat and movement. The game has a fluid movement and combat system. It took me little to no time to get the hang of controlling my little knight. It felt very similar to the games From Software built, but with much more emphasis on control and fluidity. From the point of entry, I did not have long to wait until I managed to run into my first group of enemies. There was no problem disposing of these little creatures, as the sword cut through them like a hot knife through butter. Although, once past this section, the real game starts, and so did the repeated dying.
Necropolis had managed to beat me after a few attempts and just a few minutes, not because it was impossible but because I had limited time to play on the show floor. If I was in the comfort of my own house, I would still be playing Necropolis now. It is a game that rewards persistence, and like many roguelikes that are currently available, punishes players who get cocky or make mistakes.
The way Necropolis manages to make itself so special is the simple way you get in and out of the game. Each playthrough may have only lasted a few minutes, but I never felt taken out of the action for too long. It keeps you coming back for more. For the final game, the world will randomly generate ensuring no two playthroughs will be the same. It also ensures there is no way players can just learn the maps and avoid the problems. The onus will always be on the players to learn the mechanics and master them to finally reach the end of the Necropolis.
Built by the people that brought us Shadowrun Returns, it is clear the level of polish and quality put into the title. Even though it was still early pre-alpha state, everything felt fluid and fast. Never did I find the world broke from my exploration or did I feel things were made “cheap” to prevent me from proceeding. Every monster has a weakness and it is up to the player to find and exploit them.
For fans of the Dark Souls series, there is little doubt that this will be a title that you need to keep your eyes on. There is no word on when the game will be finally released, but it is planned for a Steam (PC, Mac, Linux) with the possibility of console versions down the road.