IN-DEPTH REVIEW: Bathe in the darkness, it is for the greater good, right?
How far would you go to bring back to life, your one true love? Would you embrace the dark side and raise a monster army to fight by your side? Risk bringing back the Necromancer, to be together again with her? It didn’t work for Anakin, but maybe you’ll have better luck.
It’s not you, it’s me, we were just after different things. I wanted to revel in the dark side, and you wanted just a taste of it.
FULL DISCLOSURE: Sword of the Necromancer has been provided free by the publisher for the purpose of this review. This has in no way impacted my opinion and ratings.
No One Walks So Long In The Dark, That They Cannot Come Back
The story starts right away, with the knowledge of Koko’s death. Rather than leading up to it as a climax, the plot reveals itself through flashbacks between dungeons. Despite knowing it was coming, it still had emotional resonance when we learn how the tragedy occurred.
I enjoyed getting to know the characters. Tama, a thief who is tired of a bandits life, is tasked with protecting Koko, a naive priestess.
Honestly, it is cliché and predictable, the character archetypes and that they fall in love during their journey. What kept me interested was the endearing chemistry between the two and the dialogue that had me caring for the characters.
You learn a little about the world you inhabit, as they discuss realm politics and the dominant faith. Through this, you learn of the Necromancer, why they are immoral and the consequences of your foreshadowed actions. I would have loved to learn more about the world, but the game takes place all within the dungeons, almost like a snapshot of a much grander adventure we could have had.
I hope that the developers may one day return to this world, either in another game or possibly in fiction.
Turn Foes Into Friends
I think we all came for the Necromancy and stayed for the romance, right? Certainly the reason for me.
Each monster is very different. There are ranged, magical, tanky and support. You are almost creating a party of adventurers to take along into battle. With each type, you inevitably begin thinking of strategies. From the start, I saw how effective the fast Fleyes were against slow Dollahans, then learned how quick Fleyes die due to their low health. This constant rethinking of who to accompany me, kept me trying out different combinations.
There are, however, a couple of issues I wanted to bring up and hope they get fixed over time. One concern has already seen some improvement. Four slots are provided to you to assign equipment to, one of which is occupied by the Necromancer Sword, so really you have three available slots.
What's worse is that you share this with accessories, equipment and other weapons. Limiting you to making a choice, either go full-on Necromancer army or favour weapons and items. Personally, the latter makes the whole premise redundant. So, as you would have guessed, I went full-on Necromancer and ignored all chests, because what was the point.
They have introduced a backpack to help alleviate this, and it does help, but I am still favouring monsters to occupy those slots.
My second issue is the AI, in particular, that of your summoned monsters. Several times, they can get stuck in a location or have poor pathfinding. Instead, they choose to roam around aimlessly. I have read that the developers' intentions were for the player to not rely on monsters for combat (which is what I would absolutely love in a game), and they created them as a mechanic to assist in a fight. My suggestion would be to give them a cooldown. Make your intentions clearer, instead of forcing me to go hunting for them like a worried parent.
That Was Not What I Expected
The opening cinematic was spectacular, and I am sure it blew most people away. The music, the action, the monster designs, just wow. I never expected the gameplay to look that good, but I was disappointed upon playing. For the most part, monster designs were good but cliché. We have the flying eye, lots of skeletons, slimes and trolls. It brought nothing new. As for the environments, every dungeon was the same but with a different colour.
The scene cuts between dungeons are beautifully drawn, and probably my favourite part.
The art while playing is good, well-drawn and animated, but there is no life. Besides journal entries, you learn very little. The developers have missed out on an opportunity to weave lore and richness into the environment.
For the moment there is no reason to go for another run through the game. As mentioned before, dungeons generally look the same, and there isn’t much else to the game once you have met all the enemies. A cool feature for replayability would be to evolve monsters as they rank up, or adding NPCs that you meet. For the moment, the dungeons are pretty empty.
Final Thoughts (So Far)
I really wanted to love this game. It was my most anticipated for the month, and I looked forward to diving in, dealing chaos with my monster army. Alas, it was not meant to be. My expectations, and the developer expectations, for a Necromancy filled game, were not aligned.
There is still a lot of fun to be had, despite my concerns. For a time, summoning monsters to do my bidding had me jumping with excitement... until the AI decided to misbehave. My biggest complaint would have to be with padding. The last thing you want to do in a game after making it through to what you think is the end is to do it all over again.