Reviews

Necromancer Rising Review

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.

You don't start out with much.

You don't start out with much.

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 worknecrorising1 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.

Final Score

2pt5-stars

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.

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  • http://RyanMitchellGames.WordPress.com Ryan Mitchell

    Thank you for the review I will go through it and add your ideas to the update list!

    Have a great day,
    -Ryan

  • legend.inc

    Its good that the developer is actually taking the opinions into account. the idea of the game is really interesting and i will probably get it after a major update.

  • AnotherTim

    Wow, I can’t entirely disagree with your review Nathan, but I have to say that the score doesn’t seem to reflect your review. You seem like you handicapped it due to your being a fan of the genre. I would have to say that if you enjoy dungeon crawlers, mazes, FPSs, and depth and customization, you will probably love this game. There is really nothing else like it in the Appstore. It may not be for casual gamers but if you are looking for a true console-type RPG, you should really try the lite and see how you feel. Personally, it is a 5 star game to me!

  • Nathan Mustafa, USA

    It is always hard to balance your personal thoughts and the thoughts of fans of a genre with the actual quality of the game. Truth be told, I think that the fact that I am a fan of dungeon crawlers means that the smaller complaints bother me even more. More casual players may not get far enough into the game to wish that there was a better way to compare items, or a mapping function, but these complaints do severely hamper my enjoyment of the game. While I love the idea of the game, its execution was flawed to the point where I can stand by my 2.5 review. The fact that I have played and will play quite a bit of it doesn’t necessarily mean it is a great game… it just means I am willing to put up with its obvious flaws enough to enjoy myself. On our scale a 2.5 is passable, not mediocre or bad. Giving a 5 star review, at least to me, means that the flaws are absent (extremely unlikely) or highly insignificant, the same goes roughly for a 4.5. Remember, I am not scoring this game on a scale that only includes dungeon crawlers on the iPhone, it has to also be relative to other titles. So while this is a much better dungeon crawler than Plants vs. Zombies, and satisfies a different “gaming itch” I still have to keep in mind the quality of other titles I have played on the platform.

  • http://RyanMitchellGames.WordPress.com Ryan Mitchell

    Checking back in. Legend I suggest you give the lite a spin and let me know what you think it is entirely free and lets you try out the level 30 killing machine of a battle priest ;) ..Nathan based on your review your going to love Mission Europa ;)

  • AnotherTim

    @ Nathan: Fair enough, but I’m confused about how you’re comparing it to other titles and what that mean with the rating system. You’re saying a 2.5 is not a mediocre score? I wish you guys would either have a site wide scale for the stars that was posted somewhere as a key or just do away with the stars altogether.

    The problem is that many people will come to the site, skip the reading and glance at the score and assume that a 2.5 is somewhere between the appstore’s 2–”don’t like it” and 3–”it’s ok,” which to me sounds like the definition of mediocre or bad.

    Also it was my understanding that the ratings on this site worked on the basis of comparing games within a genre, hence a game that is obviously low-budget, quickly thrown together, but appealing to eye or quick gaming sessions can get a 4 or better, whereas a game with quite a bit more to it that costs more money can get a 3 or less.

    On that basis I personally would give this game a 5, because it’s the best RPG I have played by a long sight, and I don’t think the lack of a map or the menus are a significant problem. Personally I like the maze-like condition of the levels, and I find it a lot more realistic that you wouldn’t have a map for the levels. To me it adds another layer to the gameplay. Also, the menus are a little tough to get used to at first, but as you mentioned the tutorial is excellent and basically solved that issue for me.

  • AnotherTim

    In my above post, “a game with quite a bit more to it that costs more,” should read, “a game with quite a bit more to it that is worth more,” sorry.

  • http://the3appmigos.com Hitch

    What system did you play it on? I’m on an iPod Touch 2nd Gen with “Modifications” that slow my device down, but I’ve never really had framerate slowdown unless there were over 22 enemies on screen. I just don’t understand what it was really marked down for.
    Thanks for your time.

  • Osmiral

    +1 to what you said AnotherTim in your earlier post. This game truly deserves a 5 or at the very least a 4.5. It is one of the better games in the AppStore, and the fact that Ryan continues to update it, and add stuff based on the communities suggestions makes this game all the better.

  • Nathan Mustafa, USA

    @ Another Tim
    “Also it was my understanding that the ratings on this site worked on the basis of comparing games within a genre, hence a game that is obviously low-budget, quickly thrown together, but appealing to eye or quick gaming sessions can get a 4 or better, whereas a game with quite a bit more to it that costs more money can get a 3 or less.”

    Tim you can check out how our ratings work on the site under the review submission page. We have a simple enough 5 (10, really) star system. On the iPhone, may games are genre-bending or incredibly niche. I wouldn’t give “Air Hockey” a 5, despite the fact that it is far and away the best air hockey or two player sports game I have played on the device. I realize that some people simply skip to the score, and outside of removing it there is no way to avoid that(though removing scores can equate to removing traffic). We do put them at the bottom of the review, which is close to our summaries. Hopefully those slightly interested will take a gander at the summary and be sucked into the review. Again, I gave the score that I felt the game deserves. Your post proves that there are clearly those that will read an entire review, and it is my hope that others will too… I didn’t write it all for nothing.

    I know that it is your personal favorite RPG on the platform, but if you would like me to be frank it is not mine. So it is not as if I am slighting it in my eyes with respect to its peers. Now, if you want to score games based on how they compare to other games in their sub-genres, I would say that is far too narrow of a perspective. Can drop 7 not be scored relatively to Toki Tori simply because one is a falling block/number puzzler? Likewise, this would score higher on a scale of first person dungeon crawlers simply because it is the only one of its kind that I have played on the iPhone. Clearly, I cannot just say well this is the best game of type x.y that I have played and give a five stars.

    Games have a quality about them, regardless of genre. I can, in fact say that Professor Layton 2 was a better game than Dragon Quest Monsters Joker, when one was a puzzle game and the other a turn based RPG. You can’t tell me that you have not enjoyed one game more than another across a different genre.

  • Nathan Mustafa, USA

    @hitch, I am playing on the same system as you sans modifications. I have experienced quite a bit of chugging when moving rapidly across the environment, I am always sure to clear my device’s memory before play sessions. While I can only speak to my experience, I suppose yours may differ.

    @ Osmiral
    I try not to let future updates affect my scoring. So while I did mention constant updates in my review, I can’t give points for potential or effort… all I can score is the game I am playing.

  • AnotherTim

    Thanks for clarifying, Nathan. We can agree to disagree.

    I will also add that I am playing on a 2nd Gen iPod touch that experiences lag with many many many games, but almost never with this one. When I do get a bit of lag, it hasn’t rendered the game difficult to play.

  • Nigel Wood, UK

    There is a rating key at the bottom of every page!

  • http://N/A rico Mc gaNJA

    The game is the best fps rpg on the iphone hands down. Its not perfect but show me any iphone game with crafting , random dungeons and mobs, creepy zombie vibes and updates every week or so..i wouldnt trust a review by a guy with the lion king name anyways. LOLz. good game bad review. GET IT!

  • AnotherTim

    @ Nigel: I never even noticed that…it’s really small! (That’s what she said.)

  • Nathan Mustafa, USA

    “i wouldnt trust a review by a guy with the lion king name anyway”
    More people need to pay attention to rico Mc gaNJA, he obviously has a great head on his shoulders. Thanks, rico.

  • AnotherTim

    Nathan, if it makes you feel any better, I always associate you with Mustafa Mond, the dictator in Brave New World.

  • Nathan Mustafa, USA

    @AnotherTim

    Not only do you associate me with something vastly superior to a Disney kid’s flick, you are also willing to present an argument and listen to the other side. So, yes, that does make me feel a tad better.

  • AnotherTim

    I’m glad you feel a little better Nathan. By the way, do yourself a favor and don’t listen to this week’s podcast…or anyway just skip the middle 40 minutes or so if you do.

  • Nathan Mustafa, USA

    Lol does everyone rag on me?

  • Nathan Mustafa, USA

    Pat is not down with the brown? Lol! That kind of stuff doesn’t bother me and I don’t mind that directed towards me.

    I do realize that I have written less than anyone on the site, school usually overwhelms my schedule and I’d rather take flack for that than skip out on my schoolwork.

  • AnotherTim

    You’re too clever, Nathan. Play it cool for now. Revenge is a dish best served cold.

  • http://RyanMitchellGames.WordPress.com Ryan Mitchell

    Hey Nathan I threw you an email.. I have Mission Europa in alpha I would love your input if you have time.. check out my blog
    RyanMitchellGames.WordPress.com

    Love to hear from ya and get your input… all you requested is in that game.. ;)

  • http://www.beautifulboobs.org Beautiful Boobs %0A

    i would say that Lion King is one of the best animated films that i have ever watched .:-

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