You know when you get a really catchy tune stuck in your head, and you just can’t shake it out? This month’s indie pick is the gaming equivalent of that.
On the surface, Crypt of the NecroDancer looks like a fairly common retro dungeon crawler. It has adorable pixel art, lots of randomly generated monsters and loot to uncover, an abundance of secrets to unlock, and a fairly challenging difficulty level. It touches on quite a few familiar bases for anyone who has played a roguelike game before, and it does it all really well.
Except there’s one funky twist: all of the gameplay throughout this entire subterranean dungeon world is set to the beat of music.
Anytime you move, attack, cast a spell, or use an item, it has to be done within the beat of the game’s soundtrack, which is constantly shifting and changing as you push deeper into each dungeon area. This encourages you to stay constantly active to match the tempo of the songs that are playing, or risk losing combo multipliers that earn you loot that you can spend on goodies to help you survive longer.
It’s a really neat way to shape the adventure, and it’s such a fresh and wacky idea that you can’t help but get hooked pretty quickly, especially given the really catchy tunes that pop up in each level.
The rhythm-based gameplay and musical theme carry throughout the entire dungeon. Monsters dance around and move in specific patterns every beat, and learning their behaviors lets you figure out how to defeat them. The game’s boss battles are incredibly goofy too. And the fact that everything is fairly randomized means there’s a LOT of replay value to explore here.
Now, if you’re not rhythmically inclined, the game doesn’t penalize you too harshly for minor slip-ups, and there are a few different modes that are less punishing and let you practice before you dive into the real danger.
Crypt of the NecroDancer’s unique gameplay is more than a gimmick—it’s an imaginative musical take on a popular genre that brings randomized dungeon crawling to the next level of fun and weirdness. And if you’ve got budding young musicians in your household, they’ll absolutely love this quirky game.