GAME REVIEW: Necrosphere (PC)

Some gamers are just sadists. Maybe those folk would enjoy Necrosphere, a very challenging side-scrolling platformer. There is a “story” to Necrosphere: You are- or were- a cop who has died. You are now trying to find your way out of the afterlife, out of the Necrosphere and into a portal, back to the Normalsphere.

The big twist of Necrosphere is that you only use two buttons: left and right. There is no jump button. This is where the challenge of Necrosphere comes in. Without the ability to jump, easily advancing is more difficult. To “jump” there are bubbles found around the area, and the only control you have is the timing of your bounce and fall. If my brain had a mouth, I think it would’ve vomited a dozen times from the nerves Necrosphere has caused. As you can see in the trailer, the way home is filled with fire and spikes. There is no health. If you die, you are taken back to the latest checkpoint. Luckily, the cats at Cat Nigiri are very generous with checkpoints, so you don’t have to travel 2 minutes to your furthest point, only to die again. Necrosphere is still too mean, even though they give you checkpoints so close to each other, and even though you can save at any point in the game. In the game, they say that this is not Hell, but Necrosphere feels that way sometimes.

The world is mapped out into a crafty, interconnected maze, so you will often backtrack after you’ve unlocked areas, and you will find yourself being led back to certain points. This is the Metroidvania system of level design, which is popular with a lot of PC game developers. Why do we continue to get so many of these games with interconnected levels? Probably because it works in those games, and people cannot get enough. Using Metroidvania design works here was well. As much as I have been frustrated, the puzzle solver in me wants to know how I unlock parts of the world.

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I have played the game for only two hours, so I don’t know when I will get any upgrades or useful items. In the trailers, your character has a very helpful item that allows him to float through the world. Please, just let me use that the whole time! The last bit of cruelty, I feel, is the Save & Quit option, because there are times you will find yourself in a bad position, and you want to quit, but the only option you have is to either save and quit, or close the entire game and launch it again. The typical example is that you are jumping from bubble to bubble, and you nearly make it to your goal, but you’ve fallen, all the way down to the start. That is a time I want to quit, but the only option is to Save & Quit.

In my first half hour or so, I was hitting roadblocks with every jumping puzzle. This is when I finally had a a simple epiphany: the gameplay consists of only two controls. After that- and many, many, many deaths, I finally had a breakthrough and continued on. What reward awaited me? Even more obstacles! If you have not learned by now, Necrosphere isn’t for keyboard or controller throwers! I’m not someone who screams when I lose in games, but I am definitely someone who growls like a bear when I die constantly. So congratulations, Necrosphere. You turned me into a bear.

I played Necrosphere via Steam, but Necrosphere is also available on Game Jolt and  Necrosphere costs £3.99 ($4.99, €4.99) and is currently available. You can play it on Windows or Mac.

Rating: 4/5

Reviewer: VichusSmith

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