Crypt of the NecroDancer will make your fingers dance


Crypt of the NecroDancer is a rhythm-based roguelike that demands coordination and perseverance. You control a hero in a grid-based dungeon, advancing in the fog of war step by step as you explore the randomly-generated set of chambers. As you dive deeper you gather gear, spells and consumables to help you survive your fight with monsters who act according to predictable patterns. However, if you die, you will lose everything and you are forced to start over from the beginning.

Unlike in a traditional game of this genre where your greatest asset is the time you afford to think and plan your next movement, in Crypt of the Necrodancer your thinking time is reduced to the space between two beats on the soundtrack. Moving to the rhythm of the music builds up your multiplier and turns the ground into a dancefloor, boosting the gold you earn from every kill. That means you have to keep moving in order to be able to afford the best gear there is. However, if you do not coordinate your moves and you wander around thoughtlessly, you will soon die. What was once a meditative, considered experience becomes now a finger dance.

Each enemy has a different pattern that you'll have to learn, from slimes that bounce back and forth along set routes to shield-wielding skeletons that need to be tackled from the side in order to be defeated. In order to progress further in your adventure and dig deeper into the chambers you need to memorise each pattern and practice enough so countering enemies becomes second nature. This process, however, is slightly dependant on your gear. Different weapons have different attack patterns and your options will be expanded by magic rings, spells and the abillity to dig through walls.

Although in most rhythm games the pattern you have to follow is right in front of you, on the screen, here, the pattern is something you have to feel while listening to the music. The sense that your understanding of the mechanics improves despite repeated failure is one of the most pleasing feelings a game can offer, and the devs made the most of it.

The game is divided between four main worlds, each one subdivided into individual levels. After beating the mini-dungeons of each main world you'll have to fight a clever designed boss in order to advance to the next world. To make progress more reasonable, you can take the worlds one by one, if you'd prefer not to be reset to the beginning every time you die. In the main mode you can also rescue NPCs that sell permanent upgrades and unlock different items that can be found inside chests or in the shop.

As you play, you unlock new characters which fundamentally change the way you'll be playing the game. Dove, for example, can't attack, but unlike other characters, she doesn't have to defeat mini-bosses in order to advance to the next level, having all the exits opened. Bard doesn't need to move to the beat at all and Eli turns NecroDancer into Bomberman with a beat, due to his inability to use regular weapons, but being able to plant and kick infinite bombs.

The game is full of pleasing little touches, from the simple animations for each creature that syncs up with the beat, to the way the shopkeeper sings along to the soundtrack made by Danny Baranowsky, the same guy who composed the soundtracks for Super Meat Boy and The Binding of Isaac. Did I mention that you can use your own music while playing ? The game gives you the option to use custom music, so you can play while moving to the rhythm of your favorite song.

Combine everything said earlier with local co-op, Workshop support, different difficulty options and daily challenges and you have a rhythm-based roguelike with a remarkable long-term potential.

Name: Crypt of the NecroDancer
Developer: Brace Yourself Games
Publisher: Brace Yourself Games, Klei Entertainment
Released: April 23, 2015
MSRP: $14.99

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