Sword of the Necromancer Review (Switch)
Release Date: January 28, 2021
File Size: 610MB
Developer: Grimorio of Games
Click here to view on the Nintendo eShop.
Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
Love makes us do crazy things – things that we once never thought we would be able to do. It can encourage us to risk everything just to see the one we love happy and full of life. It can also have you go off the deep end and follow the tales of an old folklore for the chance of bringing back your dead lover. Sword of the Necromancer is such a tale, and the emotions that it weaves is one that I will not be forgetting anytime soon.
Sword of the Necromancer follows the tale of Tama and Koko, a thief and a priestess. The story is told in visual novel-esque cutscenes, a brand new one showing every time you defeat a dungeon level boss. The scenes play out in the character’s perspective, starting from the moment that you meet the two. From there, each scene is a random moment during their journey, up until the scene that is the main reason for Tama seeking out the Sword of the Necromancer.
Outside of these cutscene moments, there aren’t any other moments of development involving the two characters. Instead, you can find journal entries as you go through the dungeon layouts. These journal entries come from other characters who have ventured into the dungeons seeking the power of the Necromancer, and their results. While it may feel like flavor text, there are a couple of entries that will clue you in to the world of Sword of the Necromancer and the general rules. Though the story can feel a bit lackluster in the beginning, especially since scenes only play out after a boss fight, as you continue on, you’ll be enamored by the characters and the outcome of Tama’s journey.
Sword of the Necromancer is an action RPG with rogue-like elements. Every time that you go through a dungeon, the layout changes, as do the monsters and items that may appear during a particular run. You will come across weapons, armor and accessories, or general items like potions that can make a run easier (or harder). Each item has its own use – good or bad – so make sure to read what each item does before continuing on, because not all items will buff your character.
You control your character with the left analog stick. Your main attack will be the A button, which will have your main sword. Any other weapons, monsters, or items can be equipped to the other buttons and used at any time. Some weapons, such as the bow, will have a bar that designates how much use is left. You can also dash and dodge using the ZL or ZR button. You have hearts that designate your health status, and each heart is worth two hit points. You also have a magic bar, which limits both the amount of magic spells you are able to use at one time, as well as dashes.
The interesting mechanic in Sword of the Necromancer has to do with the ability to revive monsters that you slay. After choosing to revive a monster, they occupy one of your weapon/item slots. Their health bar will be indicated above their icon and once their health is lowered, that monster is dead forever. You obviously can’t revive boss monsters, nor can you revive “mini-boss” monsters that hold the dungeon key for that level. Otherwise, what monsters you revive are up to you. If your weapon slots are all full, any subsequent monsters that you choose to revive will give you the option to swap out something for that new monster. So thankfully, as you come across stronger monsters, you can replace your weaker monsters with them rather seamlessly.
An important thing to keep in mind is that this game uses autosaving. However, the autosave only goes off while you are in the main temple room. If you close out of your game, you will be taken back to the temple, where the save last happened. There are green teleportation markers that will bring you back to the Altar after a boss fight, although you will have to redo that particular floor again before continuing on.
In terms of game difficulty, there is an easy, normal, and hard difficulty. Along with that, you can also choose whether to maintain levels and/or items earned prior to either dying or choosing to exit a dungeon. As you gain levels, you gain stats, more health, and more magic. This allows a good way for players to play the game their way and still have a satisfying experience. The difficulty changes only unlock after a few runs, so your first few runs will be spent getting used to the controls and the gameplay.
There is also crafting available in the game. Using materials that you find by breaking pots and boxes in the dungeon, you can add different abilities to weapons that you find in the dungeons. Similarly to weapons and items that you find in the dungeon, you can add both buffs and debuffs to make your gameplay easier (or harder). However, materials will take quite a while to gather, so if you wish to fully explore the crafting options, you will need to be very thorough during your dungeon runs to get more materials. Finally, the game has an IR card reading functionality. What this means is, using a specific block pattern, you can receive an item in-game. The cards can be used indefinitely, so if you wish to stock up on several of one monster, weapon, or item, that is available for you to do so.
The main part of the game is displayed with pixel art, while the opening animation and cutscene art CG is 2D anime-esque art. Both are really nice to look at, with a lot of detail displayed for both types. However, the dungeon rooms and halls all started to blend together after multiple runs through the game and while each level going down has small differences, overall, the dungeons (outside of the boss rooms) tend to look the same.
The voice acting is phenomenal in this game, especially Tama’s voice actress, Morgan Berry. The emotion that all of the voiced characters put into their performances made the story cutscenes all the better. Although the voice acting for the Necromancer themselves sounded a bit off due to the fact that that character is using two voice overlayed and some words were pronounced differently between the two actors, the cast as a whole was great. Another tiny issue that popped up was that pressing the A button to show all of the text at once stops the voice acting for that particular line. So if you wish to listen to all of the lines voiced, you’ll have to watch the text as it appears.
Sword of the Necromancer was a fun, heart-wrenching, and stressful experience. Your reflexes will be tested many times during the game, with enemies attacking you from all sides. Each monster and boss has their own combat patterns, which makes learning and conquering these fights very satisfying. And for those who are worried about the difficulty, whether it be too easy or too difficult, Sword of the Necromancer does try to appease both sides of the aisle.
While the lack of autosaving is frustrating when it comes to wanting to put the game down and return at a later point, runs generally don’t take too long once you get into the groove with the game. As with all rogue-like games, the beginning is the hump that needs to be overcome. And while the final portions of the game are in no way easy, by that time you have better items to help mitigate the difficulty.