I have never played Dark Souls. I’m not much of one for the “perma-death” style of game. I am the type of person who, in the event of losing a save game, will never play through a game again because I already did this. So what am I doing falling in love with a game that is near identical in mechanics to Dark Souls? Where nothing you’ll ever do will last longer then one life? It has to be some type of great for that to happen.
Enter Necropolis: The latest creation from the team at Harebrained Schemes, the team behind the beloved Shadowrun as well as Bungie Aerospace’s one-and-only Crimson: Steam Pirates. A very varied group of titles especially considering it’s now culminating with Necropolis, a game the team is touting as a roguelike dungeon crawler. With a tagline of “You’ll probably die trying.” it certainly had some expectations to live up to. And did it ever.
Sitting down behind the Necropolis booth Saturday for my appointment to play I was very curious. I had purposefully read and watched absolutely nothing about the game. Other then a few screenshots, I was going in completely blind. You’re dropped in to the Necropolis as a randomly generated adventurer. While the build I was playing only had one type of adventurer, there will be three types at launch. All of your adventurers come with randomly generated names, origins, and outfits.
After beating the first of many enemies you’re introduced to Brazen Head – who I was referring to as raisin head in the crowded dubstep filled floors of the Boston Convention Center. Brazen Head, it was explained to me, is your narrator throughout Necropolis. He’ll share with you stats from the worlds playthroughs, (such as, 500 adventures have perished past this point,) provide you with the majority of your story, and help you make your way through the Necropolis.
The Necropolis is a hellish trap of a dungeon that thousands have tried, and failed, to penetrate for its riches. Some of these adventures became trapped in the Necropolis and were driven insane, now turned to hoarding piles of junk – these are the Hoardsmen you’ll fight. Others simply perished in a horrible death. No one, though, has made it out alive.
“You’re looking for treasure and a way out. I have both.” Brazen Head tells you near the beginning of your journey. The seemingly friendly floating illuminati head, I was told, isn’t as nice as he seems to be. While he may seem helpful enough in the beginning of your quest, you’ll soon see his true motives as the story progresses. The story of Necropolis is something you’ll learn not only through the dialog of Brazen Head, but also through crude scrawlings on the walls and floors of the randomly and procedurally generated dungeon. All the pieces of writing, both from Brazen Head and the readings, will be under 140-characters to allow for extreme amounts of Twitter integration.
Gameplay in Necropolis is smooth and quite a blast. Fighting from enemy to enemy with various shield blocks, light attacks, and intricate heavy attacks in intense and teeth-clenchingly challenging, and I never had a moment of death that I felt like wasn’t my fault. I ran through what I could of Necropolis four or five times in the forty minutes I had with the game, and it certainly felt like the type of game you could pick up and play with any small amount of time. While the demo was one set path, as I mentioned before, the final game will be entirely random and procedurally generated, meaning that every play through will be different then the one before it.
For being an innovative new look on a popular genre, giving us some of the most fun we’d had the entire conference, and providing some of the most genuinely interesting lore we’ve seen in a long while, we’re proud to award Harebrained Schemes’ Necropolis our Bronze PAX East Game of Show Award.
For anything else PAX related keep your browsers pointed at LevelSave.com, and be sure to check out all of our PAX East Best of Show winners.