E3 Hands-On Preview
Colin Burns Colin Burns

PC, Mac, Xbox One, PS4

Bandai Namco

Harebrained Schemes

Action RPG


US 07/12/2016

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Golden gorilla knights are very deadly.
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Steal equipment from enemies.
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Explore as much as you can before you inevitably die.
" If you are a fan of difficult and beautiful things, Necropolis is the game for you."

Dark Souls is one of those games that really shook up the industry. Hence, dozens of games in development cite it as a source of inspiration and the term Soulslike was born. Although it draws upon the control scheme and difficulty of Souls, Necropolis has enough character and unique features to stand on its own.

My hands-on demo dropped me into the thick of it, and aside from the controls, which are almost the exact same as Dark Souls, the game did not hold my hand. There is no main quest objective or mini map. Necropolis is another roguelike; each time you die, you are stripped of almost all the loot you've picked up and sent back to the beginning of a newly generated dungeon. As you explore, you'll come across potions and you'll have no clue whether a potion is going to heal you, or just kill you. As in most roguelikes, risk and reward are always butting heads.

Risk-taking also applies to combat. Do I commit myself to a lengthy animation in order to deal more damage? Do I rush into a group of four enemies or do I completely avoid them? The combat was slightly off-putting to me; despite having the Souls controls, Necropolis lacked the Souls precision. This kind of discrepancy was very difficult for me to wrap my head around, and I felt like I was having a hard time fighting carefully. I'd go to dodge behind an enemy and find myself circling completely around them. I'm sure I would get used to the controls eventually, but it may be difficult to break my Souls habits. You are able to equip the weapons of fallen enemies, which was pretty awesome. I started the demo with a small wooden shield and a longsword, and I ended it with a massive gold shield and a dagger.

Necropolis also features a crafting system, which I didn't really experience because I kept dying so early into my runs. From exploring the menus, the crafting seemed like it would be just as opaque as the rest of the game, forcing you to rely on trial and error. Another big part of the game that wasn't in my demo for obvious reasons is the multiplayer; you can explore dungeons with up to three other players, which would surely ease some of the tension.

But, in all honesty, this is where Necropolis deviates the most from Souls. I say tension, but it's nothing compared to the dread you feel while playing a Miyazaki game, and this was definitely an artistic decision. The beautiful low-poly graphics shine, and my yellow clad warrior stood out and isolated me from the gray dungeon. It's just cartoony enough. You can still be killed by minor enemies if you are playing sloppily, so don't let the graphics fool you. The dungeons did have a few silly objectives that were there more for fun than anything else. As I destroyed a corner full of pots, a message came up on the bottom of the screen that read "Expunge the useless pottery: 4 of 26." The creators know that people are going to break those pots no matter what, so they made it a quota to be filled and turned it into something with a purpose.

Necropolis lives and dies by its controls, but the amazing art style is enough to make someone want to master them. I enjoyed my time with the demo I played (on PS4) and if I had a few hours to get used to the combat, I could see myself having a lot of fun running around and exploring the dungeon. If you are a fan of difficult and beautiful things, Necropolis is the game for you.

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