The opening sequence for Sword of the Necromancer was excellent and got me raring to go. I’d conveniently placed a few of the undead to the side of my desk, so once the game taught me the dark arts, all my household chores would be catered for.
Alas, ’tis not an educational title but an adventure – a dungeon crawler quest to save the soul of your beloved, Priestess Koko. She’s dead. There’s still plenty of resurrections, but the button pressing variety. The diploma in Necromancy will have to wait.
But has the wait for the game been worth it? Press card firmly in my Fedora (carrying the flame for fiction), I’ve been following Sword of the Necromancer since the Kickstarter campaign and was keen to try it out. Well, now we find out.
Sword Of The Necromancer Review
That intro scene was woo-like – not John Woo, just the kind where you’d see American cinema-goers stand up at the opening credits shouting “Woo! U-S-A” and stuff like that. Too many films.
Majestically teleported to the gameplay, the visuals take a very different approach to the cinematic; pixel arty, with a top-down perspective, but I knew this beforehand and endorsed Tama’s character with an illustrious seal of approval. A bit like Secrets of Mana, don’t scoff, with a definite RPG vibe, her pink hair is what they’ll be sporting this season.
She’s the protagonist in Sword of the Necromancer, a game from Grimorio of Games, JanduSoft and Game Seer Ventures. Her mission, and you have chosen to accept it, is to raise Koko from the dead. It’s not something the average person knows how to do, hence my pile of cadavers in preparation, but she’s heard of this sword that can do precisely that.
Coincidentally, you find this sword within the first few minutes, but while you can raise the oozing pools of corpses you’ve just slain, you can’t reanimate ol’ Koko Pops and instead have to do a bit of dungeon crawling.
The visuals didn’t disappoint – Tama is a rather cool-looking protag, but there was something a bit off with the combat. Tama floats like a butterfly but stings like a sloth, it doesn’t match her movement speed and found that attacks were a bit laggy.
Sword of the Necromancer’s combat was uninspiring as I found that button mashing with her sword, then switching to a halberd would finish an enemy off before they could plead for mercy. Upon their death, you get some XP, making you a bit more resilient, but you can also reanimate the poor soul you just slayed.
Stand over the puddle and reanimate, then voilà: a new companion. The undead appear the same as before, and weirdly, they don’t follow you. Instead, you assign a button to summon them, and they will come to your aid. Or not.
There are two reasons why a game focusing on necromancy shouldn’t bother with the resurrecting side of things. Actually, three. The first due to abysmal AI. Summon a character, and they’ll go anywhere but the battle; place them in a corner where they have nowhere to go, and they’ll die, losing any of the (unlikely) levelling they earned.
Stick To Your Guns
The third reason is capacity. Tama has four slots in Sword of the Necromancer, but you may as well say two as you need to keep one for the titular sword, and another for the longbow for ranged attacks. A note: the longbow doesn’t require ammo, it just has a cooldown, if you have the patience.
What happens is you have to lose whatever is assigned to that button in place for a minion – the same goes for equipment. Occasionally you will find a chest where you can stash away goods for another run, but to tell the truth, you can stick with the same loadout throughout.
Aside from sticking with the same loadouts and avoiding the necromancing part of a game about raising the dead, the principle gameplay is going from one room to the next; clearing enemies and locating a key to the next area. On death, you return to the hub, potentially losing everything.
Sword of the Necromancer is already fairly easy, but you have the option to remove all the rogue-like aspects. While this will piss on the chips of die-hards, it’s good to have the choice – you don’t have to make it easier, but even casual gamers won’t find too much challenge here.
All dungeon crawlers are repetitive, but the nature of levelling up, balls dropping, broken voices and maturing as an explorer should be an incentive. As XP is quite frequent, you’ll see many boosts to Tama’s stats, but it never feels like progress, more a chore.
And regrettably, this applies to Sword of the Necromancer’s core gameplay as enemies are mostly forgettable, and unless there’s a door locked, you’re unlikely to defeat them all as you can’t carry anything else, and you’ll level up anyway,
Sword of the Necromancer is a bit more tolerable with the dash button. Tama can slip across skinny chasms with grace, and dodge an incoming attack at the press of a button. There’s no gauge as such, but there is a cooldown, and you’ll find you’re dashing through corridors to get to the next room and get it all over with.
Saving graces? The story is good and between a few rooms will be a cutaway with some nice artwork and a bit of exposition. It’s here that I realised Tama was female, just assuming the translation for the character’s name was Balls. The music is also good, when it doesn’t shift so much into a fast tempo when nothing is happening.
Sword Of The Necromancer Review Summary
Sword of the Necromancer is neither a resource for reanimating your beloved guinea pig or an enjoyable dungeon crawler. Perhaps the hype outweighed the potential as aside from the decent artwork and music, it’s all rather bland. It also proves that raising the dead is pretty fruitless.