Necromancer Rising is a real gem that needs quite a bit more polish. Necromancer Rising can be classified as a dungeon crawling RPG, a game in which the goal is essentially to reach the bottom or top of a dungeon to face an enemy of legend or obtain a magnificent item. In this case, the adventurer seeks out the Necromancer for revenge and must delve deep into the dungeon while fighting back hordes of abominations. The combat mechanics of the game instantly reminded me of an Elder Scrolls game, more specifically Morrowind. Unlike many dungeon crawlers Necromancer Rising takes place in real time- which means that combat and movement are not relegated to turns. Combat is first person, and players have a variety of weapons and spells at their disposal.
Before we delve too much into this game it should be noted that in its current state, Necromancer Rising is for moderately experienced RPG fans that are willing to put up with a little bit of guesswork and interface setbacks for the sake of an engaging RPG experience. Think of this as a popular band’s demo album; people who are fans of the band will likely appreciate its merits but a casual listener would rather listen to something recorded with better or newer studio equipment. Truth be told I am personally a fan of dungeon crawlers-which means that Necromancer Rising is my type of game, and my experience with is was viewed through the eyes of a fan of the genre.
The most striking element of Necromancer Rising is the quality of the in game graphics. The 3d visuals are stuck somewhere between the Nintendo 64 and the Gamecube, and are impressive on the platform. These visuals contribute to the overall creepy atmosphere of the game, as do the constant moans and groans of the undead or the creepy whisperings of other enemies. Diving into the dungeon, one definitely gets the feeling that it is not a happy place.
I was equally impressed with the RPG mechanics, leveling up is satisfying, the skill tree is varied, and the acquisition of new items is compelling. After each level up, the player receives skill points that can be spent in a fashion very similar to Diablo. Skills are varied; players that wish to put their energy into physical buffs or stronger attacks can do so, while those who wish to put more points into magic can without worrying about the game being too difficult. I opted to play more of a balanced character, finding that having higher level magic was extremely useful while closing the gap between my target and myself. The character wears no less than sixteen pieces of equipment including armor, a shield and a weapon (or two) of choice. Using this equipment in real time works well enough, and through the customizable UI players can place action icons wherever they would like. If any of this sounds complicated, the game features an excellent video tutorial that covers most aspects of gameplay.
The issue I take with the game is more of an all-encompassing complaint. Necromancer Rising feels more like a work in progress than a fully realized experience. Be it the poor quality of voice acting, the iffy user interface, or the choppy framerate, Necromancer feels like a game not yet ready for primetime. Some things that I would like to see in the game are an item compare function, a better way to assign skill points, and more functional menus in general. The dungeons in Necromancer are randomly generated; this sounds like an interesting feature but it becomes a problem to have random dungeons without any sort of mapping functionality in the game, in fact before I realized that the levels were random I had mapped out the entire first floor on graph paper. This problem is compounded by the fact that quests do not stack in the game, forcing players to leave the dungeon every time a small task is completed. Several times I ran into the miniboss of a dungeon level and defeated him, but after returning to town to turn in a quest item I would be assigned the quest to kill that very miniboss. This means that I would have to go back into that level and re-map it in my mind, fight through all the enemies, and kill the boss once more.
The lack of auto-mapping or a map at all really kills the experience at times for me; even Rogue has an automap. Since the structure of quests for each level are so similar, each successive layer of the dungeon feels like more of the same but tougher. The starting levels can feel like a real drag, since most loot drops are one gold or a piece of cloth but the game does pick up with regards to weapons and loot as time goes by. With these complaints in mind, I do recognize that the developer is constantly supporting the game with new updates. So while it may be off putting to deal with the game’s shortcomings, dedicated players can take solace in the fact that there is a good chance that their complaints will be heard.
For the time being, Necromancer Rising is an enjoyable first person dungenon crawler that is hampered by poor design choices and a lack of polish. If this game manages to hook you, it will suck you in for hours; in fact I played for two hours when I first installed it and only realized it when my battery ran out. The game feels huge, but once you realize that you are doing the same tasks repeatedly, it really only remains fun for those who don’t mind diving into a dungeon for the dungeon’s sake. I am one of those people, so Necromancer Rising manages to tug on my heartstrings even though it is far from without faults.
I would recommend that anyone interested try out the lite version, as it throws you deeper into the dungeon and gives the player a glimpse of what is to come.
The full version is available on the App store for $2.99. This is a sale price and a good deal, the app page claims it is more than 2/3 off of the full price, which means that the full price should be around $8.97 or more.