Necropolis: Brutal Edition - PC Review

As of the 6th of September, the Necropolis has become more Brutal. Having gone back and re-designed a variety of elements from its original debut release, Hairbrained Schemes has released a variety of updates taking into account community and reviewer feedback alike to create version 1.1 titled Brutal Edition. Not only making improvements, the Brutal Edition introduces the Brute which is very fun to play as He or She is Big, Bad, and packs one heck of an epic punch.

Necropolis is a single player or co-op adventure that is Dark Souls inspired while taking to heart the core of what Dark Souls, or the Souls Series, is based on. Roguelikes. Roguelikes are hard, unforgiving, and challenge the player to be better than the system for failure generally means a loss of everything that was required, and in the Necropolis? This means permanent death of that character and everything that they picked up. The only things that can be left behind for another are scrolls that can be purchased within the starting hub and later down in the libraries for a future adventurer to come and read themselves. This can lead to a steep learning curve in certain cases or generally a quick death is behind “door number 1” is a powerful enemy that has come a few floors up in order to say hi. Such is the ways of this crazy dungeon.

Having already had a chance to sit down and explore the Necropolis in versions 1.00/2/3, 1.1 has not only made a lot of changes but has also made some improvements in order to make the starting up of a new run that much easier. The hub is no longer a multi-leveled environment with stairs and an elevator but instead a simple quick and to the point Y-Branch that allows the players to either go right or left in order to explore the Necropolis. This was great to see as there are also newer and deadlier opponents on the first floors that are scary as hell and can kill you rather quickly. You would think that by this point that I would have been prepared… apparently not.

Each run of Necropolis starts off the same way. After hitting “start” there is a choice of a male or female character that now includes both the original character types and the newer Brute. Unlocked colors are accessible to both and add a bit of personalization especially if playing with others. Once a character and color is chosen, then it’s straight into the Necropolis to get the adventure underway.

Starting off within the hub there is a little bit of money to be gained but generally this is the starting point for new and old players alike. A giant and ancient mural depicts information left by forces much older than the Necropolis for how a character can be used with the controls of their choice, in my case, an Xbox controller. Now before going either fully to the left or the right there is another passageway in the middle in which the easiest way to describe it, and the hub as a whole, would be this following Latin symbol Ɏ. In this interconnecting passageway is a giant pyramid that talks to you and a vendor who will sell you food and potions. Finally to the side of this vendor is a stack of scrolls that contain abilities that can be learned and equipped by both the current character and any others that come after this one dies. Necropolis is a Roguelike and this scroll system is the only bonus that any future characters will see.

Once a character has moved out from the hub the rest is into the hands of the player. Knowing how to play, or really knowing how to not die and when is a good time to run away, is what is going to keep you alive for more than two rooms. From one version to the next the biggest thing that I have noticed is how much harder things have become which is a good thing because it originally felt a bit too easy until the lower floors were accessed. Every character’s starting gear is crap and finding a better weapon is going to be just as important as the exploration as without it things may take a while to die. Newer weapons and shields can be found off of defeated foes while armors can be found in chests with the other two.

Weapons come in tiers starting at zero. From this point things can only get better as most of the zero tier are junk, swing slowly, and generally don’t do a whole hell of a lot. It’s not to say that they are ALL crap, just mostly which is why it’s a good thing to find better gear and fast especially now that in the later version of the Necropolis big baddies can be faced off against earlier than before. Shields are in the same category though, unlike weapons, finding a better one is a bit trickier as less opponents use them. Getting a better one early though will come in handy as defending against heavy blows is important especially when you realize that dashing or rolling out of the current situation is not going to happen.

Each weapon that your character picks up will have its own swinging speed as well as the amount of stamina that is required to use it. Following rather true to the path of the Roguelike, stamina will decrease with usage. Running, swinging, blocking, dodging, and powering up swings to unleash hell on enemies will all take different amounts of the stamina bar away semi-permanently. Eating any food will restore a portion of your stamina allowing for you to do it all over again. As picking up food is not necessarily easy, thankfully there’s crafting that like the scrolls at the beginning, once a recipe is learned all future characters will have access to them.

“Crafting”, as I’m not sure putting together a meat shank from scraps and torn flesh is crafting as much as some mad science or alchemy, can be used in order to combine materials that have been picked up in order to make said food or potions. The ingredients required are clearly identified as well as how many of each are currently on hand. Putting any of these together does not take very long but making sure that there are no enemies present is very important as they won’t stand still while you put the finishing touches of seasoning on your meat. The same principle applies to eating food and drinking potions as starting this action in order to save your life can sometimes have quite the opposite effect. Oops?

While exploring the Necropolis and hacking your way through numerous foes, there will come a time when you finally find a door that requires you to pay a fee in order to be granted passage. This door comes with the knowledge that the elevator leading downwards to new trials is upon you. The reason that this is important is not only does it mean that the journey can continue, but there’s also a vendor as well as a stack of scrolls that can be consulted in order to either purchase new ones or simply trade out one currently in use for another.

Before heading downwards though, there is a statue that should demand attention as it basks in an almost holy light as the statue of a goddess awaits you. Walking up to this statue you are asked for a donation in order to obtain a blessing that will make you more powerful with upgrades to your health and your defense. Not having enough money for these blessing can sting a bit knowing what they can grant however you can always come back. Just note that the next one is even more expensive giving some pause as to whether you should be buying things from the merchant or waiting for the materials in order to make them yourself.

Armed with all this knowledge does little to hold the creatures of the Necropolis at bay however. I’ve died in the first two minutes like I’ve died an hour or more into my journey from either stupid human error or just getting greedy and thinking that one more hit is all that I need and then dying horribly because I miscalculated. Necropolis itself however has only gotten better since release and Hairbrained Schemes have only made changes for the better. Now with the recent launch of the Brutal Edition, players having already explored the Necropolis have reasons to head back just as newcomers have exciting reasons to dive into it. Fans of the Souls series and Roguelikes should find plenty here to enjoy which is made better by the option to co-op with friends from the start.

Game Information

Harebrained Schemes
Harebrained Schemes
Bandai Namco
Single Player
Other Platform(s):

Article by Pierre-Yves