The game came out about a month ago on Early Access Steam (7/30) and I didn’t know how I wanted to approach the game at first. The game is fun, the music is addicting but I found myself turning away from playing it from time to time. For a rogue-like, it does its job of creating a high-replayability by having generated dungeons for all stages, daily challenges, and different playthrough experiences because of the randomized weapons, power-ups and enemies.
What I was shying away from was the other part of rogue-like games, the “keep you on your toes” part. The game’s mechanics are simple. You move to the beat. You attack to the beat. You create paths through walls to the beat. But this also means that you learn about your enemies to the beat. Once you get past the first few enemies learned through the tutorial, you quickly find enemies where you don’t know their attack patterns and movements. Normally, when you come across something that you’ve not experienced prior, you can take your time to figure out how to approach these kinds of enemies, but with the restrictions of actions per beat, timed length of the song/stages and other enemies trying to eat your face by throwing their heads in your direction, it makes it difficult to learn and understand an enemy. It makes it even more frustrating when you die to that enemy and you haven’t learned a gosh-dern thing about how or why you died.
But this goes to the general idea of rogue-likes to begin with. You aren’t given a lot of information and you aren’t given a lot of time to come up with information on your own. It’s trial by fire with these kinds of games and it makes it hard to learn from your mistakes because you don’t know what the causes and effects are, but you’re left to make assumptions and hypotheses and hope that you get it right.
The game is still in alpha so I don’t expect that my current opinion of the game is set in stone, and I actually rather enjoyed the game, to be quite honest. The problem is that rogue-likes as a whole have a tough time teaching the player about its enemies without the mechanic of “die to said enemy a few times and maybe you’ll learn something.” Games like Crypt of the Necrodancer and Rogue Legacy try to mitigate the frustration by making each playthrough per level only a few minutes long, so making a costly mistake only sets you back a few minutes. The trouble is that each reset is usually because the player is trying to learn something new and each death means only one new thing was learned or still being tested. It means that a high pain-threshold is required to play these kinds of games because of it’s long play cycle. It’s a bit different than say Super Meat Boy because a SMB has play-cycles of 1-minute max, making deaths and learning-opportunities have low cost and lowered penalty to the player than Crypt of Rogue.
It’s easy to become dissuaded from a game like Crypt of the Necrodancer and other rogue-likes, but there is some enjoyment to be had when playing them. If you can get past the tolerance for pain required to play them, I mean. Can I get another Tabasco enema after this? That sounds about the right.
And DannyB did do a fantastic job on the soundtrack. Gratz.
If you have any experience with Crypt of the Necrodancer or comments on rogue-likes in general, let me know. We can talk about it in the comments below.