Necropolis Preview

Kill enemy, take weapon, repeat.

The Souls games are often thrown around as a key source of inspiration, but a few games have tried to copy them to such a degree that the inspiration has almost reached a point of saturation. Thus, games like Necropolis still feel fresh and exciting because they take that Souls formula and transition it to different environments with various mechanical tweaks. Necropolis uses procedurally-generated content and weapon variety to help create its own identity while still establishing a sense of familiarity for action-RPG fans. It is one of the best games at PAX Prime this year.

Developer Harebrained Schemes specifically mentioned the Souls series as a huge influence in the PAX demo, and it was immediately apparent the moment I picked up the controller. The inputs were exactly the same—LB and RB for blocking and attacking respectively, RT for heavy attacks, B for dodging… the list goes on and on. It made the demo a lot easier for me because of my experience with the Souls series, but it still proved to be a challenge. There are spots with endless mobs of enemies, and others with far more dangerous foes with giant swings that can take a player out in just a few hits.

The game provides plenty of tools for players to defeat enemies, though. The weapon system in Necropolis stands out as one of its biggest features, and it has less to do with attack power and more to do with the attacks themselves. The game will feature hundreds of unique weapons, each with its own special move set. Players can switch out weapons to find a suitable one for his or her playstyle. I happen to enjoy faster blades with vertical charge attacks, while someone else may prefer a heavier weapon that covers more ground.

Enemies can even drop weapons, though they don't carry over when the player dies. In fact, a lot changes with each playthrough. Necropolis is a roguelike in the sense that you don't keep your weapons and you have to start from scratch. It's a tough pill to swallow, but it adds game variety due to its procedural generation. Each subsequent playthrough creates a brand new character with a different name/backstory, and the dungeons themselves also shift layouts on a random basis. The goal is to make each session exciting in new ways with the help of random element.

Despite the Souls influence, Necropolis feels like its own thing. The colorful art style goes a long way, as it juxtaposes the typical dreariness associated with dungeon crawlers. It also creates incentive to wander off on random paths and explore the environment. The air of mystery compliments the difficulty, but action-RPG fans will likely feel right at home.

Necropolis doesn't have a firm release date, but Harebrained Schemes plans to release it some time next year on PC.