by Camrin Santchi
reviewed on PC
Love and Loss
Loss can be one of the most powerful driving forces in the world, and media regarding this is plentiful, from the much beloved Shadow of the Colossus to the recent Avengers: Endgame, those suffering from the loss of a loved one can often be driven to fantastic and desperate measures. In this way, Sword of the Necromancer begins with a tale as old as time itself.
Gamers take the role of Taka, who has ventured deep into the mountains in a desperate search to find the power of the Necromancer, and return her beloved Koko to life, no matter the cost. Upon retrieving the titular weapon Taka discovers that the blade itself doesn’t have enough power yet to reclaim Koko’s life, she must venture deeper into the necromancer’s lair and claim their power for herself.
Sword of the Necromancer is a rogue-like that takes place in a constantly shifting dungeon, with randomized moves and enemy layouts that provide a different experience with every run. The mechanic that separates this game from others within its genre is the power of the Sword of the Necromancer itself. As the name implies it has the ability to revive enemies that have been slain and have them fight by Taka’s side. This is done by having a total of four possible weapons, with the Sword of the Necromancer as one, Taka can either find other weapons such as halberds or bows, or equip an enemy to that slot and summon them at any time to aid in battle. This adds layers to the strategies gamers can make use of in the dungeon, getting fodder monsters to distract those with high defense so they can go in for the kill, for example, is one option that this reviewer found very useful in his time playing.
This game manages to balance the fun of its gameplay and the sombre tone of its story incredibly well, with occasional flashbacks to Taka and Koko, starting with their initial rough meeting and continuing as they develop a close bond to each other, further adding to the feeling of pain when Taka ends up perishing within the dungeon. This is because, whenever Taka dies, she is brought back right in front of the small, peaceful altar where she lays Koko’s body, a permanent reminder of the stakes she feels for this quest.
The atmosphere of the game is well crafted, with periods of solemn silence as well as good uses of music to emphasize the feeling of the endless dungeon or the bittersweet memories that Taka falls into quite often as the story progresses. At the end of every section of the Necromancer’s dungeon lies a powerful boss monster, and Taka will need to make careful use of her necromantic weapon as well as the undead she summons in order to take them out.
Unfortunately there are some flaws within Sword of the Necromancer, but on the bright side there aren’t any deal breakers. Like with many rogue-likes, the endless labyrinth of Sword of the Necromancer can unfortunately end up feeling samey at times, because the first area is a very drab dungeon that feels nearly identical with every playthrough, even though the map and enemy placements are randomized in every run. Thankfully the repetition isn’t terrible, it is merely something to note on multiple consecutive journeys into the Necromancer’s dungeon.
Another important positive to Sword of the Necromancer is the care that the developers at Grimorio of Games have put into it, with some of the lore and even achievements referencing legendary moments in pop culture. For example, ‘tonight we dine in hell’ is an achievement that will be unlocked in only a matter of time, since the idea is to kill 300 enemies, a clear and charming reference to 300. It is these nods and touches that can add a whole new layer to gaming, when it's clear the developers made it with clear passion.
Charming and heartfelt
In all, Sword of the Necromancer is a fun roguelite with a heartfelt story. The usage of the titular blade adds a whole new layer to the roguelite genre, in that gamers will need to strategize about what enemies to take out first in order to have them fight on their side. If the genre interests you but you need a good story to feel at all invested, then this game is for you.
Heartfelt, Creative Spin on Roguelites, Deep Story
Can Feel Repetitive At Times