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Sword Of The Necromancer

Posted by GG Goblin On February - 3 - 2021

A roguelike dungeon crawler where your enemies can become your allies.

 
Roguelikes are so plentiful now that to stand out in the crowd they need a gimmick. Gimorio of Games’ Sword of the Necromancer, available on PC, Xbox One, PS4 and Switch, offers up an interesting gimmick in which the player can bring defeated monsters back to life to fight beside them. However, this mechanic is not perhaps the most interesting aspect of the game.

 


 
The thing that really shines in Sword of the Necromancer is the story, which acts as a real motivation for players to keep coming back. Players take on the role of Tama, a thief who is desperate to bring a priestess called Koko back to life for reasons that will become apparent. Doing so will require using the Sword of the Necromancer, but it is going to take some dungeon crawling first. Played out through cutscenes, this story will quickly pull the player in as the relationship between the two characters is revealed, and it is very nicely done.

 
When it comes to the gameplay, Sword of the Necromancer is more of a mixed bag. The core gameplay involves heading into randomly generated dungeon floors, from a top down view, finding keys and fighting bosses in order to reach the next floor. The player has a couple of different attack types and a dash option, but the combat itself lacks the precision of some of the more hardcore roguelikes. In contrast, Sword of the Necromancer is quite brutal when it comes to the player dying, leaving them not only having to start again, but losing all of their equipped gear and even coming back weaker than when they died. There are options to make this side of the game a little easier, such as being able to retain items and such, but that is obviously not how the developers wanted the game to be played.

 
The gimmick is a nice idea. When the player defeats an enemy in combat, they can bring it back to life using their magic sword and have it fight alongside them. Monsters have different elemental statuses, making them stronger or weaker against other elemental types, which can lead to some nice tactical choices. However, the sparkle is taken off this idea when it becomes apparent that the monsters don’t have the best AI and their use is questionable. Being able to have a friend drop in and help out is a nice idea, but when playing alone using friendly monsters may not be the best use of an inventory slot. Ah, yes, the inventory slots.

 


 
Through the course of playing, the player will come across a fair number of monsters, weapons and equipment. However, Tama only has four slots for their inventory, with one of those slots being taken up by the actual Sword of the Necromancer, leaving the player with frustratingly limited options. This leaves three slots for additional weapons, equipment or allied monsters, which is just too little.

 
Back at the hub, the player is able to upgrade weapons or monsters, making them more powerful. However, upgrading is costly and being that dying will mean losing these items if they are being used, it can be difficult to justify upgrading them. It is possible to put them in storage to keep them safe, but then if you have a favourite weapon or monster, you are going to want to use it. It is not the best system.

 
Visually, Sword of the Necromancer has a certain amount of charm on the small Switch screen. It doesn’t look its best when played on the big screen, but playing in handheld mode seems to suit the game. The stages can be a little bit bland, and the monster design is not the most original. The game can also feel slightly slow at times. The sound effects and music are perfectly serviceable, but don’t stand out in any way.

 


 
Sword of the Necromancer has some great ideas that are overshadowed by frustrating mechanics. The roguelike systems are all well and good, and some players will gravitate towards the constant threat of losing an upgraded favourite weapon, and at least there is the option to tone this difficulty down. Bringing monsters to the side of good is also an excellent mechanic, but the limited inventory, forcing players to constantly swap out items and make difficult decisions regarding what they carry, makes it very difficult to invest in anything. Sword of the Necromancer is not a perfect game, but for fans of the genre who want a good story above all else, it is worth checking out.

 
[Update]: The developers are currently working on a patch that will not only allow the player to begin from their last dungeon instead of from the beginning when they die, but also that will increase the inventory size. As the limited inventory is possibly the largest bone of contention in Sword of the Necromancer, this will make a big difference to the game. It is also encouraging that the developers are listening. Expect the score to increase once the patch is rolled out.

 

 ★★★★★★½☆☆☆ 



 

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