September 7, 2013 7:00 AM | Anthony Swinnich
Rhythm games and roguelikes both have dedicated fan bases, and each require time and effort to master and truly enjoy. That's where I would have said the similarities between the two genres sat until I played Crypt of the Necrodancer on the PAX Prime show floor. This oddball concept works a lot better than it probably should, though perhaps that's a testament to the team behind the curtain.
A lot of work seems to be going into making Necrodancer an all-round blast to play. First off, the actual action is a treat. Timing your movement and attacks to the beat is rewarding and feels unique. The fact that the enemies move to the beat only drives this home, as it forces you to learn their patterns. All of the traps are a nice wrinkle as well. Jumping onto an arrow that's pointing right only to be thrown back in that direction was funny the first time. After that, you tend to plan for them, as they usually result in taking damage.
The randomly generated environments add a level of uncertainty to your quest, especially since so much of the environment is destructible. There could be a hidden treasure room to find, or there could be a gigantic dragon, but either way, it's up to you to risk your hide and find out.
There will be ten or more weapons in the final version of the game, and six unique enemies per stage to dispatch. This adds up to a wide variety of foes, as there are 16 stages. There are also four bosses to defeat, so don't get too hung up on normal zombies and monkeys; there are definitely bigger fish to fry. The Danny B-composed soundtrack sounds great so far, though industrious players can import their own MP3s to play with as well.
Crypt of the Necrodancer is going to be available through Steam's Early Access program in November, and the final version is cha-chaing its way toward and early 2014 release on Windows and Mac. A console release is being considered, but nothing has yet been set in stone. Preorders knock ten percent off the normal price and are up on the official site now. Reserving the game costs $13.50 (from $15), while those who also want the soundtrack can get both for $22.50 (down from $25).