STAFF REVIEW of Sword of the Necromancer (Xbox One)


Tuesday, April 13, 2021.
by Daniel Paddy

Sword of the Necromancer Box art Sword of the Necromancer invites players to attempt a resurrection quest, enabling them to bring back foes to fight as allies in the process. It includes a weird love story, a simple but engaging battle system and a decent array of monsters and items. It does a great job at welcoming how it normalizes the relationship between its main characters.

In times full of typical dungeon crawlers, Sword of the Necromancer stands out in a number of ways. It's a game that puts a huge emphasis on monster possession and how you strategically use the foes you've defeated in combat to survive, not only for getting stronger but also getting wiser as you learn the benefits of using enemy patterns and attacks for yourself.

Sword of the Necromancer rewards you for playing your cards right while still retaining the sense of progression and making your gear and monsters stronger, and while it also retains the risk-reward mechanics of other rogue-light contemporaries, it also gives you plenty of tools to maintain your inventory even after death to save those precious Rank 5 creatures. It's a breath of fresh air as its challenge doesn't come in the form of layouts overloaded with cheap enemies nor from overly punishing reset-your-progress mechanics, but rather using the tools at your disposal in a smart way with some strategy.


Combat is the essence of Sword of the Necromancer and is serviceable, yet unremarkable. The simple battle system can be mastered after a few encounters; there is one button to dash (used to run or dodge) and four buttons to perform other actions. Players designate items into each of the four slots, however, some items do not provide extra actions, but simply grant status bonuses. Players can equip a ranged weapon, a melee weapon, a summonable monster and an amulet, or choose any combination of the above as they see fit. Characters also have soul and heart points: souls enable the dashing ability and hearts represent health. While soul points recover over time, health points are only recovered by picking up hearts, dropped by monsters or found inside some breakable objects.

It's not like you're possessing enemies so their AI can play the game for you, on the contrary. Because you can spawn/despawn any of your monsters at any time as long as you're near them, these can be seen as an extension of Tama's move set, though because they have their own health bar you also have to consider when to retreat them so you can keep using them, not only on the offensive but also on the defensive, as some of these can block enemy projectiles, screw up their patterns... or heal both you and your other monsters.


And because your monsters can get stronger or develop new kinds of attributes, with the added factor of weapon/defense loot, this leads to you figuring out tactical synergies between items/monsters in various forms. For example, I could use Tama with two weapons, a healer bunny and a close range heavyweight knight (a very straightforward melee build) but I can also use long range magicians to spawn around the enemy and shoot them while I distract them using myself as bait (it's like I'm playing Deception IV again). However, you have to be ready to adapt as the monsters you face might have attack patterns that can screw up your strategy.

What makes Sword of the Necromancer different from other roguelike RPGs is the resurrection of monsters. After foes are revived using the sword they fight on the player’s side. They can also level up and acquire better abilities, but they can die easily, losing all the abilities and levels that they may have received and cannot be revived again. One issue related with this differentiator is that summonable allies are mostly clumsy because of their AI and sometimes run in circles instead of fighting. The solution is to call them back and summon them again until they are helpful in game. The game also includes an elemental system, in which some enemies and items have weaknesses or resistances, changing the effectiveness of attacks. Items can be upgraded by using the forge and certain objects scattered along the dungeon. Each item has four slots for abilities, some sof which can be negative, such as adding an elemental weakness to a shield, while others can be extremely beneficial but are expensive to do.


Sword of the Necromancer is more tactical than your average roguelike goals of "get stronger to get more powerful attacks to then get even stronger" dungeon crawler, while still being quick and straightforward to the point where the "just one more dudgeon" dynamic kicks in real quick once you get used to the combat. It's a really comfy experience, and once you have the hang of the possibilities of capturing any enemy and fighting back with it, it becomes quite chill with the cutesy pixel art, Celtic aesthetics and orchestrated music.

On top of a really dramatic and passionate story with excellent voice acting (Tama's voice actress absolutely nailed it) and some really cool bosses, you have a pretty sweet game that I recommend you check out if you dig dungeon crawler roguelikes and at the same time want something different.




Overall: 6.5 / 10
Gameplay: 6.5 / 10
Visuals: 5.5 / 10
Sound: 5.5 / 10

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