A rhythm game combined with a roguelike dungeon-crawler? I love rhythm games. I love dungeon crawlers. Will it blend?
Crypt of the NecroDancer first caught my attention during "The NecroThon". The NecroThon was a charity event on Twitch, where people could pre-purchase the game and join a team and compete, the funds going to the winning team's selected charity. A friend who knew the developer and was taking part urged me to check it out.
Already interested by the premise, I watched the Twitch stream, trying to understand how the game works. The game relies on grid-based dungeon-crawling, kind of like Dungeons of Dredmor or Fatal Labyrinth, but with rhythm creating an additional layer of challenge and immersion. The enemies won't wait for you to move, they move to the rhythm!
In a nutshell, you start in a randomly generated dungeon, and can only move through it by following the beat of the song. Collect items on the beat, deliver beatings to the beat (as the slogan reads). I thought this would be a preposterous combination, but it is actually executed very simply. The implementation of both genres combined feels so natural, you will wonder how they have never been combined before!
Needless to say, it captivated me. I purchased it the moment it went live on Steam, including the wonderful soundtrack by Danny Baranowsky, (also responsible for Super Meat Boy and The Binding of Isaac). For an Early Access game, it is surprisingly polished and playable. I didn't encounter any bugs, there is already a lot of content, with the full version promising is to add more. More levels, more characters and more fantastic music to keep crawling to the rhythm.
The game feels welcoming from the first moment you start it. Charming characters, clear and user-friendly tutorials, and easy controls. It can even be played on a Dance Mat! Ah, if only I had one...! The game's pace is defined by the game's soundtrack perfectly, and since it allows you to add your own custom MP3s to the game, it always stays fresh, with me wanting me to come back. The pixel art is a treat, it looks like the game was tailored for me! The shopkeeper even sings! I find myself coming back over and over, tapping my feet and nodding my head to the rhythm. There's good runs, there's bad runs, but even on bad runs I have never felt discouraged or frustrated by the game.
When it comes to the game flow, there is so much to discover. Despite this, many of my runs can be characterised by me spending so much time listening to the shopkeeper, that by the time I meet a boss, I have to run away!
I am currently trying to complete the three regular stages. When I am done with that, I can choose between the Speedrun mode, Hardcore mode, Aria mode, or the recently released Monk mode (where taking gold kills you!). This game has become my go-to option whenever I want to sneak in a quick game session, and I can see that being the case for a while!
Crypt of the NecroDancer is available now on Steam Early Access in standard and soundtrack edition flavours.