Recently I finally got to try out a game I had played demos of at PAX East at least 2 if not 3 years ago. The reason that it took me so long, despite a high level of interest, was that the game required a controller I didn’t own.
The game is called Crypt of the Necrodancer. It is a rhythm based dungeon crawler. Basically, in order to make it through the dungeon you must move and attack based on the rhythm of the music on that level. Now the game is available on many platforms at this point, and is playable with your traditional control schemes, but what made the game most appealing to me at PAX East was that it also was compatible with a DDR mat.
As a teen I played a LOT of DDR. I had multiple versions of the game for my first generation XBOX, and owned 3 of the foldable vinyl mats so that I could play at home with friends. However, I had not continued to play as I graduated up generations of consoles, and never owned a mat compatible with a PC. So this meant if I wanted to play I would have to get one.
In a lucky twist of fate a coworker who was moving happened to have 2 metal PC compatible mats he wanted to get rid of, so of course I was more than happy to take them off his hands and finally give the game a real try.
First, I did not realize that there was an easy mode to learn the game. Had I known that I probably would have fared better in my first 30 minutes or so of play, since I was getting my butt kicked by every enemy I encountered. However, even despite that I found myself really enjoying the game.
First, I have always enjoyed rhythm based games. Other than DDR I also logged quite a few hours with games like rockband and guitar hero. The rhythm aspects of Crypt of the Necrodancer are definitely well implemented, and the game allows for calibration to ensure that any audio or visual delays are accounted for which definitely helps.
As for the dungeon/combat side I found it very interesting. Each enemy follows its own movement and attack patterns which are also rhythm based. As the player you have to learn each pattern and find ways to attack the enemy “on beat” without falling prey to their attack. I found it surprisingly deep and actually fairly complex. I am usually pretty good at learning patterns but I will say that trying to keep the rhythm correct while dodging and watching to learn patterns was actually surprisingly challenging, and I found myself having some of those same awkward klutzy moments when you would jump up levels of difficulty in DDR and get overwhelmed. Funny thing is I really liked that, and found I was laughing at myself for my mistakes.
The first time I played I had intended to just try it out for 20 to 30 minutes and found I had been playing for 90. Since then I have fired it up a few more times and had the same thing happen. To me, that is a sign of a good game.