Game: Necrosphere Deluxe
System: Nintendo Switch
Developer/ Publisher: Cat Nigiri / Unties
Price: €7,99| $7.99 | £6.49
Age Rating: EU: 12 | USA: T (Teen) Blood, Violence
Release Date: January 31st, 2019
Also Available On: PS4 and PC
Review code kindly provided by Unties
Platfomer Necrosphere is a game where you travel the underworld in an attempt to escape and reunite with your fellow secret agents. This mature story is then set atop a hard-as-nails difficulty level applied to the tried, tested and trusted Metroidvania formula. As soon as Agent Terry touches down in hell (known in-game as the Necrosphere), he heads through the world to find a way out. He is guided by his friends through notes, discovers powerups and learns more about the realm he is attempting to escape from.
Only Two Buttons?
The creators in their promotional material frequently refer to the games simple control scheme. When getting around, you can initially only move left and right using buttons on either Joy-Con to move in its respected direction. Though it’s designed to replicate classic games from the NES era, it does take a little getting used to before you eventually acclimatise and stop running into the many obstacles by mistake – more than usual anyway. As you progress and discover the powerups, the game then adds additional ways of using these buttons to dash and jump. Again, it takes a little while to acclimatise each time so it is fortunate the game doesn’t penalise deaths.
Negativity aside, once you are in the groove, it’s easy to appreciate the simple approach and intuitive ways they make use of the two-button system. It can become frustrating during particularly dense obstacles but it does then make you feel like a pro once you execute things perfectly. And upon returning to an area you then tend to have better luck each time which again adds to the rewarding nature of mastering the controls.
Life In Hell
The whole game is of course designed as a retro romp through a hellish landscape. The map sprawls in all directions and is full of puzzles and tricky paths. As well as trying to find the right portal home, one of your friends has mistakenly sent DVD’s to the Necrosphere too. These you’ll find scattered all over, usually hidden or somewhere particularly tricky to reach. During my time with the game, I collected around 14 out of the 20 doomed discs. Collecting only 5 unlocks another mode with additional puzzles, which I scratched the surface on after my initial playthrough. To my understanding, collecting all 20 is mostly for bragging rights.
Most of my time with this game was spent throwing myself at obstacles until learning the inputs and dexterity to overcome them. The puzzles are usually quite simple, it’s their tricky execution that provide the challenge. I could understand how this formula may be a little off-putting. It does provide a frequent feeling of achievement, especially towards the end of the game where the stakes escalate ever higher. Ultimately, through perseverence I really did start to enjoy the thrill of the challenge.
Life After The Afterlife
On Nintendo’s site, the game is advertised as a tough challenge that can be overcome in 2.5 hours. While it may have taken me just over 4 hours, I can see that they designed this game to be played over and over. It has alternative endings, which I would be keen to explore at a later time. Once you overcome obstacles once, it becomes a lot easier with each visit. So there’s plenty of incentive to speedrun and to ensure you find all of those DVD’s. Atop this they’ve added an additional mode in Terry’s Dream. Terry’s Dream sees you overcoming even more demonic dives through the hellscape once you’ve stumbled upon 5 DVD’s.
Me personally however? I feel I have come to my natural conclusion with this game. Through there is more to be done, I feel I will likely come back to it one rainy day with nothing else to do.
One of the trickier puzzles in #Necrosphere #NintendoSwitch pic.twitter.com/FqYpIMUcGK
— TheBenAlder◇ (@TheBenAlder) January 31, 2019
The Review Number Of The Beast
Ok, so we don’t actually do review numbers here, so let me break down my experience. The game is a solidly made, challenging and overall a fun, brief run through the underworld. Though the challenge does often come from the restrictive nature of the controls, the lapse of death consequence means the pace stays uncompromised. The story is short, but well written with good humour. The fact that the game also offers a solid replayability is also a plus. However, even with all this taken into account, I don’t find the game very memorable. Should the team be keen on a sequel, I would love to see them extend the story and also turn up the detail on the hellish landscape. I would happily revisit Necrosphere again in the future, if only to follow up on it’s promising start.
Ultimately, I would say I like this game. It doesn’t attempt to break the mould, but it is still a solid package that I enjoyed playing while I did. Thanks again to the Unties team for the opportunity.