Game: NecroBoy: Path to Evilship
Genre: Adventure, Puzzle
System: Steam (Windows & Linux)
Developer|Publisher: Chillin Wolf | Gravity Game Arise Co.
Controller Support: Yes
Price: UK £15.49 | US $17.99 | € 17,99
Release Date: October 31st, 2022
Review code provided with many thanks to Press Engine.
NecroBoy: Path to Evilship is a 3D puzzle game created by a solo developer. While its appearance is of mild horror, you’ll likely walk away from the experience with your heart warmed and possibly a smile on your face.
Necroboy is on a quest to raid the crypt of Necroman and become the greatest evil Necromancer there ever was. Between most levels, a short text-based cutscene plays showing Necroboy and his minions. It’s a story that’s got plenty of light-hearted humour but a lot of it doesn’t hit the mark. What surprised me though is the sense of heart to the tale. You soon learn that while Necroboy pursues power and considers himself evil there is actually a bit more to the boy than expected. Maybe he’s not as ferocious as he proclaims.
There isn’t any voice acting, so put this down as another title to add a silly voice to Necroboy and his minions should you want to entertain the young ones or yourself. Silly voices are fun.
Rise, my Minions,
The game design has you explore a variety of bite-sized levels, where the goal is simply to find the double-door exit. In order to make it to the exit you’ll need to engage in a variety of simple puzzles which include flipping switches and pushing blocks. But Necroboy is not able to engage in these tasks himself for some reason. He will need to summon minions from the dead and direct them to specific tasks in order to make his way through the crypts. This minion mechanic may give off a Pikmin vibe but I would say NecroBoy doesn’t really follow the template for that game since the focus is on puzzles only.
Controls are simple to pick up and use. The option of a controller or keyboard is available with the former being my preference during gameplay. Stand near a crumpled-up pile of bones with a ghost and push a button to summon a new minion which will follow you automatically. You can then send out a pulse shot to send the minions to an object like a switch or block and it will automatically interact with it. This pulse is able to travel across areas currently inaccessible to NecroBoy and if there is a path for the minions such as a mouse hole or gap in the gate they will be able to reach it. Some objects will require more than one minion to activate, such as large blocks to push and multiarmed switches.
You will soon learn you can hold a button to highlight a set number of minions to make them dormant. By doing this and keeping others awake you’re able to tackle slightly more complex puzzles like sending some minions through one gate to get a switch. Then when the door closes behind them you wake up the dormant minions to access a new switch in an area now accessible thanks to the first group’s actions. Sometimes minions would get stuck in environments which was a bit of a pain but it rarely interfered with the overall experience.
Keep it Chilled
The challenge is quite chilled much like the title of the developer (Chillin Wolf). It’s unlikely you will be scratching your head or looking for a guide to solve the main puzzles in the game. The only time I got stuck was when I overthought a puzzle too much and somehow got myself locked behind a door with my minions unable to reach me and therefore ceasing my progress with only a restart being the fix. Luckily the levels are bite size so it doesn’t take too long to try again.
With the levels nice and small this is a pretty enjoyable pickup-and-play experience for those with little time on their hands. At the end of a set number of levels, you will reach a boss room which is really just an enlarged puzzle experience but a good way to adjust the formula from the regular levels. I guess the only niggle is the core difficulty may be too easy for some, with certain levels requiring only a few simple switch-flips to solve. There are 3 secret levels that do offer a bit more head-scratching moments but these are optional. Generally, I can see this really appealing to gamers that just want a pleasant gaming experience. Even though the puzzles didn’t seem hard I still walked away with an accomplished smile feeling like I had achieved something.
The graphics have a horror template but the vibe is light-hearted. The 3D sprites have a warm, friendly, cartoon feel to them even though the game is set in dark castle-like dungeons. Necroboy himself has a detached arm and leg design that’s reminiscent of Rayman. The minions themselves feel more like cuddly followers than beings of a sinister nature.
It certainly breathes a family-friendly presentation which will unlikely give you nightmares. What may appeal to casual gamers is the level designs are quite straight forward with switches and blocks being highlighted in a very obvious red. I guess it’s a nice feature but I think I would have preferred these objects to match the dungeon designs. Playing on PC the performance was good but I did have moments where moving Necroboy about felt a bit blurry which is odd to see on PC. Still, it’s got a nice Halloween-themed soundtrack which is upbeat but matches the gloomy setting.
As far as content goes you have your core story mode with several levels which may take no more than 6 hours to beat. But this may increase with the challenging 3 hidden levels. Besides than the main game you can unlock new cosmetics for your minions. There is even a Halloween-themed costume for Necroboy if you click on a pumpkin in the options menu. It’s not a lot of content for the price point on offer. So a sale may be a consideration for some. The game is playable on Steam Deck however I can’t rate that experience since I only played it on PC.
Conclusion – A Happy Horror Gem
NecroBoy: Path to Evilship falls into the category of a little gem for the puzzle experience. A generally straightforward but satisfying experience with a story that has a lot of heart. For a solo developer, they have done a pretty decent job creating a welcoming experience that will suit gamers of all ages.
It doesn’t veer far from its puzzle formula, not really taking any risks with its gameplay. But it is an original concept. This may be a great one to enjoy playing with the younglings or if you just want a nice weekend game that’s not too taxing. Definitely add this to the wish list to support a budding indie developer. Hopefully, this is not the last we see of NecroBoy and his puzzle escapades.
Final Verdict: I Liked it