The Crypt of the Necrodancer is a roguelike dungeon crawler with one unforgiving twist: everything moves to the thumping beat of the game’s energetic and diverse soundtrack. The opening scene shows your character, Cadence, digging her way into a forbidden crypt. Why, we do not know, but her expedition ends fairly quickly when she falls to her death. The Necrodancer steals her heart and retreats to the deepest level of the dungeon, leaving her blood running cold but her determination unchanged. Armed with only her shovel and a dagger, Cadence delves deeper and deeper into the crypt; is it fame, fortune, or something for more sinister that see seeks? You’ll have to play to find out!
He may look friendly, but he’s got a mean streak.
Released by Brace Yourself Games on April 23rd, 2015, The Crypt of the Necrodancer is a randomly generated, 8-bit puzzler like many games before it. However, one simple mechanic makes it endlessly replayable, immensely enjoyable, and amazingly unique: you have to move to the beat or risk armies of undead piling on you. This seemingly simple premise is the game’s most interesting quality; you can play with your keyboard, controller, or even a dance pad to run circles around your enemies and dance your way to confront the great evil at the heart of the crypt. The game is divided into four zones which are themed differently. Moreover, the enemies get harder, the beat gets faster, and the loot gets better as you conquer each zone’s boss and progress to the next zone. The game also features many different modes and characters which allow you to tailor the experience to suit your playstyle, or offers a unique challenge when you feel you’ve mastered a certain approach to the game.
The later levels can get quite challenging.
Initially, you can choose ‘All Zones Mode’ or ‘Zone 1’ to begin your adventure. The first mode always starts you at the very beginning of the game with no upgrades, no weapons aside from your dagger, and no respite until you either emerge victorious or die trying. The second mode allows you to keep trying the first level, collecting diamonds to purchase more health, potent spells, powerful weapons, or helpful armor. Once you beat the boss of this zone, the next level unlocks and you are sent back to the lobby to choose your next focus. Back to zone one to upgrade some more? Or perhaps onward to the challenges that the next zone presents? Additionally, the daily challenge lets you compete against your friends to see who can earn the most gold on the same map for that day. It can be quite amusing to watch their replays and laugh when a slime ends their run, but be careful that you don’t meet the same fate when you try!
The lobby and all its options… allowing you to hone your skills!
Like any self-respecting roguelike, Crypt of the Necrodancer constantly changes the layout of the levels, the placement of the loot, and the population of the enemies. This adds a layer of challenge to the game as you can’t memorize each map and practice until you’ve mastered it. While it’s one of the game’s strengths, it’s also a source of major frustration as a streak of poorly generated levels can sap your resources and skills. Overall, the game is very well polished and thought out, courtesy of its 11 months in early access on Steam. You can practice with specific weapons, battle carefully selected enemies to get better against them, and replay any boss battle until you’re a dancing pro!
Deep Blues, just one of the various bosses you might face.
Even though the opening scene reveals little about the reason why Cadence is trying to break into this crypt to begin with, the short cutscenes between zones shine more light on the subject. Eventually, the whole story is revealed just in time for you to face the Necrodancer himself. I hope you practiced your dance moves because you’ll need them to conquer the final boss. Good luck!!