• Gameplay
  • Story
  • Graphics
  • Dancing Skills

I was almost instantly intrigued by Crypt of the NecroDancer. It’s a roguelike that’s played to the rhythm of whatever song is currently playing in the level. Being a fan of dungeon crawlers in general, this rather ingenious spin on the genre got me interested. On the bottom of the screen is a heart with animated bars getting closer and closer. It’s like a simpler Guitar Hero; jump to the beat of the heart to keep your coin multiplier from depleting. If you’re attacked, you’ll lost the multiplier. Aside from things trying to kill you, traps in the environment will also try to ruin this multiplier. If you fall in a puddle your multiplier will be lost. Spike traps will injure you, trapdoors will send you to different areas in the level, sometimes surrounded by monsters, other times you are greeted by a singing merchant who will sell you armor, food to heal, weapons, anything useful. You’ll earn money by killing monsters such as skeletons, bats, ghosts, even monkeys.

You start every playthrough with a dagger, shovel, and a bomb. Chests will drop larger blades, crossbows, armor, and more items once you’ve unlocked them with diamonds. Diamonds are scattered throughout the map, sometimes hidden in walls that can be dug up using a shovel. Items found in chests can also be purchased from the aforementioned singing merchant.

Levels are divided into four zones. At the end of every zone, there will be a mini-boss (often a dragon) that needs to be killed in order for the stairs to the next level to unlock. However, if you wait around in a level for too long, the song that’s playing will end and you’ll be dropped to the next level. This is similar to the ghost that is sent after you in Spelunky when you’ve spent a long time in one level. Or like the music that’s used to cut actors off during their acceptance speeches when they’re boring. Whatever floats your boat. I mean, the game allows you to use your own MP3 files, so you could totally kill monsters to the Oscars’ “get off the stage” music.

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Characters can sometimes be found locked in cages. If you haven’t found the key in a chest prior, there’s a good chance the merchant will have one on sale. Once these characters are unlocked, a new room will unlock in the lobby. These rooms contain practice courses and shops. You can use the diamonds you collected in your last playthrough to purchase upgrades and new items that will show up in chests. Also in the lobby is where you’ll find the entrances to zones, different game modes like Hardcore or an easier mode with fewer enemies, local co-op, character select, and more. Unlockable characters carry different abilities, such as Bard, who can move freely and not to the rhythm of a song. He’s a great character to use to take a break from the rhythm-based combat of Cadence, the story’s frontliner. Though there isn’t much of a story; it’s all set up in the opening cutscene, featuring Cadence falling into a dungeon and being taken over by the NecroDancer. Which would explain why she’s tasked to move to the beat of a song.

The Verdict

There isn’t much I could dislike about this game. I would totally understand your feelings if you dislike dungeon crawlers; it’s a love it or hate it situation. Crypt of the NecroDancer is available now for $14.99 on Steam. It can be played with a controller, keyboard, and even a DDR pad. If you dislike the genre, it’s likely you’ll dislike this rhythmic take on it. If you’re like me and enjoy roguelikes that put your persistence to the test, chances are you’ll enjoy it, maybe even love it. Hell I’m already addicted.

Stay tuned to KaboomShark for more news on Crypt of the NecroDancer, and please do let us know if you decide to whip out your DDR pad to play this gem.