First Looks// Necropolis

Posted 6 Sep 2016 10:49 by
Irreverence and humour was not something I expected to discover so prominently on show in a game called Necropolis, but find it I did; in abundance I might add. Occupying a very large space within PAX East expo hall I was drawn to not only the visuals on display and the octagonal shaped booth, but also the large queue of people that snaked around it. Something was drawing people to Necropolis and I wanted to find out more.

In Necropolis you play an opportunistic thief who is attempting to raid a tomb for its treasure. The first faltering steps within said tomb find you encountering a large pyramid-like structure that has an eye in the middle of it. It speaks in a nonchalant tone, declaring that it demands the thief carry out menial tasks for it while they are in the tomb. These 'menial tasks' are anything but, of course, and the caretaker of this tomb takes great delight in sardonically commenting on the thief's progress through the tomb.

With Necropolis being very much in the action-adventure mould, gameplay consists of the player moving through the world in a third person view as their on-screen avatar fights their way through hordes of creatures of various types.

The method of combat is all predicated on careful timing and the conservation of stamina. Too many rapid swings and the player is almost defenceless, requiring the player to conserve their stamina as much as they can.

There is also an intrinsic link between stamina and health that Harebrained Schemes has installed into Necropolis that is a good example of a risk-reward mechanic. It is possible to charge up a combat move that can lay waste to many foes at once, but this comes at a very high cost - the reduction in the pool of stamina available to the player. The lower the amount of stamina available to them, the lower their combat ability. The only way to recover the pool of stamina is for the player character to eat food and/or take potions.

The content of Necropolis is procedurally-generated at every play. When I say content, I mean all of it. Everything from food, potions, weapons and other objects all have their attributes changed, making discovery a cornerstone of Necropolis. For example, in one session a red potion will increase a player's stamina, in another session that same coloured liquid will cause them to vomit uncontrollably and lose a significant amount of their health. This is all with the intention of keeping people on their toes as they play through Necropolis and could cause some frustration for the player, but I was assured that this will be tempered to minimise that frustration.

The world of Necropolis is portrayed using low polygonal models and simple textures. The lighting is very dynamic and the animation of the creatures that dwell in the tombs and the player character itself are very fluid and fast thanks to the adoption of this simplistic representation of the world. Trails showing movement effects are very much placed to the fore in Necropolis and create quite a light show during combat. They also do much to explain what is going on to the player as they try to take on a mass of creatures that have surrounded them.

The sound editing of Necropolis is extremely well done. The rumbling tones of the caretaker are emitted through the tomb, all the while the player is slashing their way through countless foes. The directional sound manages to have the clink and thunk of every swing bounce around the walls very convincingly and that's testament to the level of detail
Harebrained Schemes has put into creating Necropolis as they clearly understand that a game like this needs a very rich sound palette to give the best experience to the player.

Necropolis is out now on Windows PC, Mac and Linux and later in the year on PS4 and Xbox One

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