Monday, April 28, 2014

PAX East 2014: Crypt of the NecroDancer (Brace Yourself Games)

Spring has arrived, and with that, another PAX East has sprung up, inviting gamers and game developers from all over the world to Boston, all to show upcoming games and revel in what the industry has in store.  We at Third Rate Minion were there, and we got to try out a sampling of what was there on the showfloor!


Interview with Ryan:

Gameplay Montage:


Perhaps one of the most popular games shown at the PAX East Indie Megabooth was Brace Yourself Games' debut title, Crypt of the NecroDancer.  Roguelikes are definitely a popular genre in indie games, and music games have an intriguing allure to them, for sure.  Crypt of NecroDancer takes those two genres together in one very solid package.  We got to talk with Ryan Clark of Brace Yourself and try some of the game ourselves, and you can check out the impressions after the jump.

Crypt of the NecroDancer, as already mentioned, is a combination of both music game mechanics and roguelike experiences that have become increasingly common in the indie scene.  Players control a young adventurer who ends up in the Crypt of the NecroDancer, seemingly dead but forced to move to the world's ever-moving beat, investigating the goings-on and putting an end to the darkness within the crypt.  With every beat of the world's music, the player and monsters alike move as though they are part of the song.  If a player continually moves on-beat, multipliers are built and can ultimately add to the intensity of abilities and riches earned from each defeated monster.  The goal is simple, get out of the crypt and save yourself and those caught in the crypt.

Everything in NecroDancer moves to the world's beat, and that includes the world's monsters.  For example, a Blue Slime moves up and down every other beat, so it makes sense for players to attack one from the side.  As for Skeletons, they attack every other beat; approaching a skeleton or any other monster requires a knowledge of when they will strike and for how long.  One mini-boss, a Minotaur with a lute attached to its head, charged when facing a character, moving every beat in that direction.  Other mini-bosses use other more complex beat actions, and this, combined with the constant requirement of movement on our part, makes the game feel more active and intense all the same.

The world is designed to be a fair roguelike challenge, which initially sounds like an oxymoron.  Ryan explained that he felt some roguelikes were too difficult for players, so he made a game that would be difficult to rush through without learning the world's mechanics, but for those who would take the time to learn, the game could be more easily conquered.

NecroDancer's world is teaming with activity, and the art design is cohesive and delightful.  The game falls into the typical pixel artstyle of a roguelike, but the art is more detailed and playfully animated.  Enemies have emotions which are playful and match with the seemingly rediculous premise of the game, and the mini-bosses are well designed, some matching the musical concept of the crypt of beating rhythms and the undead.  While the game's techno beats are fun and active to run through, players can opt to use their own MP3 files using the game's beat-finding algorithm, so you can finally run around a crypt of the undead to the beat of Prince or Daft Punk if you want.

I found the game to be especially delightful to play, particularly thanks to the musical accompaniment and the constant activity that drove me further into the dungeon.  I have to admit I was occasionally met with confusion when it came to digging the walls, but I suspect I was accidentally trying to dig the wrong blocks.  Meanwhile, the game can be played with a dance pad or the keyboard, and I can only speak for the keyboard controls, which were solid.  I am sure dance pad controls, while more attractive at the show, are likely more cumbersome in the later stages, but that might be left for interpretation via the final version.  Overall, the game was an all-around treat.

Crypt of the NecroDancer is slated for release later this Summer.

For more information about Brace Yourself Games, click here.

No comments:

Post a Comment