Into the Necrovale by Casey Clyde
Into the Necrovale starts off with the protagonist being banished and sent to the realm of the dead. With the help of other prisoners – and a whole lot of loot – we must explore the Necrovale in order to survive.
Random Room by Random Room, We Must Use Skill to Face Our Doom
Into the Necrovale’s levels are sectioned off into randomized rooms, each of which contains an objective – like kill all the enemies or protect and fight alongside an NPC – that must be completed to proceed.
Most of the time the game provides two different rooms to choose from to go into next. I really liked this; if I was running low on health, I could choose the room with the NPC that sells potions, or choose one with a forge that would improve the stats of one of my weapons or armor pieces. This level of choice is a great addition that helps make exploration feel a bit more open and less linear.
Because rooms are small and levels don’t take too long to complete, the game feels more digestible and less overwhelming. For example, I’d enter a level of a dungeon, go through six different rooms or so, and then get taken right back to the hub world. This style of level-based dungeon exploration makes the experience more forgiving and less of an endurance test.
So many Rogue-likes rely heavily on random loot, equipment, or environments to make the experience more challenging. While this makes runs feel different each time, it leads to many play-throughs where players are at the mercy of randomization, hoping to get lucky with good items or else suffer a bad run.
Hack and Slash and Grab
Into the Necrovale, however, relies more on player skill. Sure, randomization does play a role, but it’s less of a crutch. I instead had to make sure my dodging or blocking was consistent and my attacks lined up accordingly.
Overall, Into the Necrovale has more of a hack-and-slash style of gameplay, requiring you to use all the game’s mechanics. It’s a nice change from the more random drop-focused Rogue-likes I’ve played over the past several years.
Luckily, the game offers enough varied loot to make combat feel fun. Bows, staffs, swords, knives, each with their own unique stats — there are plenty of weapons to experiment with in this regard, which gives you a lot of fun options.
Equipment is also nicely varied, from items that help reduce cool-downs to those that add elemental damage. There was enough variety here to keep me engaged.
In terms of difficulty, Into the Necrovale can feel easier than most Rogue-likes. Since it is skill-based, if you find a nice weapon and competent armor, things will be a lot easier.
But the difficulty does ramp up slowly, so the game makes sure that you have to find higher-level weapons and equipment in order to succeed. Overall, I’d say that the game’s difficulty is manageable as long as you have a good grip on the controls.
After completing each level, you are awarded with Hopestones. The core currency in the game, Hopestones are used in the hub area to unlock vendors and open closed-off rooms.
I liked this system’s freedom; for example, I held off on unlocking the potion vendor first, because I had found an item that increased potion drops by 300 percent. Using the Hopestones how I wanted offered a nice level of freedom, and I appreciated that.
Hopestones and Dead Zones
I did have some minor issues with the game.
For one, the randomized areas to explore feel very generic and familiar. The familiar layouts of randomized rooms make Into the Necrovale feel repetitive to an extent.
Also the NPC-oriented objectives – either protect an NPC or fight alongside one – repeat far too often. I wish there were more variety in this regard to make each run and level feel less familiar.
Aesthetically, the game nails its portrayal of a realm of the dead. It incorporates subtle colors and dimly lit spaces to evoke a feeling of hopelessness and dread.
Areas are arguably too dark, but I feel that this adds a lot of atmosphere. Its pixel graphics offer just enough detail to make items and characters stand out well.
Into the Necrovale also mixes somber music and more gripping combat music to fit snugly beside the game’s action-based fighting. Overall, its really effective use of visual darkness and music sells its moody atmosphere convincingly.
The only issue with Into the Necrovale is its lackluster area design and the repetitive objectives within those areas. I could look past this because the game is loot-driven enough to keep me engaged throughout.
The urge to find better equipment, alongside enjoyable combat, was enough to keep me playing. I’ve enjoyed what I’ve played so far and can’t wait to see how the game shapes up in the future.
Into the Necrovale’s demo is available via Steam.
Check out the official trailer for Into the Necrovale below: