We’re in the post-Dark Souls era of games now, and developers are more ready than ever to challenge players instead of dropping them on an obvious breadcrumb trail. And Necropolis definitely isn’t taking it easy on players of this moody dungeon crawler. The game is out real soon, and I got some time to join a four-person team for multiplayer exploration of the unique, lovely, and brutal world of Necropolis.
For the uninitiated, Necropolis evokes the measured, careful combat of the Souls and Monster Hunter franchises, where you’ve got to be careful about what moves you make. Choose the wrong attack at the wrong time and you’ll be stuck in a lengthy animation while getting pummelled by a walking skeleton or giant spider.
And the challenge gets upped even more because the exploration borrows from the Rogue-like genre with permadeath, lost inventory when you die and randomly generated dungeons. You collect what you can find and test how far you can get, then die, only carrying over a few skills into your next playthrough. The striking primary colors of the Tron-meets-Lord of the Rings world might seem inviting, but the world is anything but. Games in this genre have a cult following, but Necropolis aims to popularize the hardcore genre even more on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One later this summer.
Now, that all may sound pretty desperate, but it gets decidedly less painful in multiplayer, at least based on my preview demo of Necropolis. When traversing the randomly generated dungeon in groups of four, you actually have a chance to resurrect a fallen comrade and save them from permadeath, though you only have 60 seconds to do so. Not only that, but you’ve got other folks watching your back, ready to share any healing items or badass weapons that could help along the way. Sticking together when you’ve got a hulking armored brute on your tail makes Necropolis much more feasible.
Then again, Necropolis is tricky in that the difficulty is constantly scaling to your team’s size and level, throwing more beasts at you or bigger challenges earlier in a dungeon. You’ve got to always be on your toes, or else you’ll be wishing real hard your more skilled teammates can survive long enough to resurrect you.
And you can keep going until the entire party is wiped out, which was the situation I was stuck in after my crew had finally gotten to the sixth floor of a nasty dungeon. Our team fell apart so tragically fast I’m still mourning my fallen teammates. We’d been doing so well as a group, and had just found some stupendous armor, then BOOM, enemies are all around us. My team starts falling like dominos and soon I’m the only one left. I take just a little too long trying to resurrect one of my team and then that’s it, I’m cut down by a demon’s fiery sword.
But for as heartbreaking as that was, I was more than ready to dive back into Necropolis for another hour of hardcore action to see if the team could do even better. And I’ll get my wish real soon, as Necropolis hits PC July 12th.