Those who know me, know I love a good roguelike, I even like the average ones, as the rinse and repeat nature really resonates with me and my ADHD. Sword of the Necromancer isn’t hitting the levels of Binding of Isaac, but then, not much does.
What you have here is a fairly by the numbers roguelike that presents itself well and elevates its standing with one mechanic I really liked and has kept this as a permanent fixture on my Switch alongside the aforementioned Binding of Isaac and also Hades.
The story is actually fairly bland and typical if I am being honest. A character is dead and you are tasked with going through a randomly generated world to earn enough power to bring then back to life. Whilst well presented I actually found I didn’t care all that much about the world and lore building. It isn’t bad, I just found myself not bothered by it.
However, Hades aside, I don’t think a roguelike’s story is that big of a deal as long as the gameplay is good enough to carry the thing. That gameplay loop has to be spot on to keep you going back after each and every inevitable death.
Thankfully for Sword of the Necromancer, it nails that core loop really well and does a good job of easing you in before ramping up the difficulty. As with most roguelikes, you’ll lose most of what you find in each run but can get some carryovers to help build your base character for deeper future runs.
I said there is a mechanic I really liked, but in actual fact, there are two. The IR code system is a nice addition. You can enter in a QR style code that can give you bonuses, buffs, weapons and other things that can help or hinder you. As simple as entering the code and equipping the item.
These IR codes aren’t permanent though, as you need to enter a new code every time you want to take one of the items, as they are single-use. It is a good way of stopping you simply stocking up to cheese the game. That process of manually painting out a QR style code is enough to stop you doing it constantly.
The enemies you face all have certain patterns and thus your progress will hinge on you gaining familiarity of these, so you can dodge and attack at the right time. I found going in without though saw a run end pretty quickly.
What is also important is how you use the ‘Sword of the Necromancer’. Once you have slain an enemy you can bring it back to life and then use that same enemy as an ally. I love how this works and it really allows for the game to stand out enough from the many other games in the genre.
Some re-animated allies can be used as a mild annoyance to the actual enemies, giving you the right opening to get the best attacks in. Others can do great amounts of damage almost completely clearing a dungeon for you.
Balance is the key here and on the whole, it is spot on. Your resurrected allies aren’t permanent and will die if attacked enough themselves, but you can easily go and resurrect another enemy in its place.
Whilst that is a cool mechanic, you can’t rely solely on re-animated monsters, as you’ll also need weapons and such. With limited slots to carry items and what I imagine to be the souls of the monsters, you need to get the balance right. It is all about experimentation and learning.
On the whole I really did enjoy Sword of the Necromancer and as said at the start, it has a spot in my daily rotation of games right now. Whether I’ll be playing months down the line, who knows? But the enjoyment I am getting now is well worth it.