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Gotta say, I came in expecting basically just NecroDancer with a Zelda skin, which would have been good enough, but it really feels like they put in the work to make it feel like a Zelda game. It's still more or less NecroDancer, but it feels different too?
Lots of Zelda specific items to find, puzzles to solve, heart pieces to collect, etc. It's still a "roguelike" or probably more a "roguelite" but for better or for worse it's NOT randomly generated, so when you die you will be going through some of the same screens again. But there are also checkpoints every few screens or so, so when you die you can just pick whichever checkpoint you want to on the map. Not totally sure how I feel about this. I guess I'll have to see how the whole thing works out overall, though it does feel like I'm cruising through the map pretty quick. Sort of. Like, there doesn't seem to be any real barriers to just moving around? Will I need specific items to access specific parts? Maybe?!
It's a pretty big map though, so I still have a ways to go, regardless.
Apparently there is an option you can turn on which randomizes things more though? Hmm. If so that is an interesting decision, letting the player decide if they want randomization or not? But there are puzzles and such, would it randomize those too?
To be honest, I'm not even totally clear on what I'm supposed to be doing. Just explore? Am I supposed to fill out the map? Is there something specific I'm supposed to be looking for? MAYBE they told me in the dialog, but I sure don't remember any clear instructions on my goals.
The music! The music switches up a lot and it's like they picked all of the best Zelda songs to remix. Sooooooooooooooo many good songs already!
Anyway, it's a good game. If you liked NecroDancer, and you're obviously a Nintendo fan because you're here, this is an obvious one to get. If you didn't like NecroDancer but like Zelda, it could possibly win you over. If you never tried NecroDancer well, now is the time.
The music alone was making me really excited for this game, and the art style is gorgeous! Unfortunately... It turns out the particular screen shake effect they use on an almost constant basis makes me sick. I can't look at it more than twice without feeling dizzy. So sadly it appears this will be a game I literally can't play, even if I want to.
Screen shake adds so much to game feel, but so often developers seem to forget that for some it causes illness. One of those challenge to game dev I suppose!
I just checked, you can definitely disable screen shake, so don't let that hold you back from checking the game out!
Also thanks for mentioning this, I have it in my game (I think subtly, but subtle is relative) and never really thought about adding an option to disable it. Should probably add that. Accessibility is important and I should be looking more into it but there is always so much to dooooooooo.
I don't see any options about making gameplay more randomized though like I read is possible, maybe that is some mode you unlock?
Anyway I didn't play any more since last night but I was reading up on it and it seems like (duh?) it uses the same format of most Zelda games, where there is an overworld but also dungeons you need to find and defeat. And it doesn't seem to tell you where they are, so you have to explore the overworld to find them? Neat! I suspect the dungeons are a bit less free with the regular save points, maybe a bit tougher (though the overworld is by no means easy), have bosses, all of that.
Another thing I forgot to mention last night, it's not a huge deal but it's pretty neat, some screens have treasure chests that you need to do certain things to unlock... some are just beat every enemy on the screen, but others will be like... don't miss a beat or get hit while beating every enemy, etc. Adds neat little extra challenges interspersed with the main gameplay.
So yeah, definitely feels like they really tried to make it feel like a Zelda + NecroDancer game, not just a skin of NecroDancer.
I definitely need to try this. In fact, I think it is my sworn duty to buy every game by an indie developer that has been entrusted with a Nintendo franchise. I condone this activity. That's how we get our next F-Zero.
I've played through the game twice now: once with a friend in co-op, and again on my own. (Beware: co-op is kinda wonky if at least one of the players lacks rhythm!) It took us about 5 hours to finish the game in co-op, missing a handful of items, and my solo run was about 6 hours where I think I found everything except one bottle...
- It's more of a Zelda game than I expected. A full overworld! Puzzles with one or more clever solutions! Items with multiple uses! Towns! Minigames! And I think they did a great job capturing that LOZ charm in the characters, dialogue, and general presentation as well. And while you start the game as Cadence, you'll switch to either Link or Zelda after a few minutes and have to unlock the other two characters through the adventure, at which point you can switch among the three at save points. It's also way less punishing and more inviting than the first Necrodancer game.
- While the game is much more structured overall than Necrodancer (and most roguelikes in general), I think there's still some randomness in where certain items, caves, enemies, and upgrades show up. And the dungeons seem to be randomly generated each time as well, and they feel a lot like playing the original Crypt of the Necrodancer, which is neat. They do have a Zelda twist, where you sorta have a hub in the dungeon with little shortcuts for backtracking that you unlock as you go through it (not that there's much reason to ever go back to an area after you get through it) and with some clever item use you can even skip entire sections of the dungeons. While backtracking around the overworld can get a bit tedious (enemies respawn each time you complete a dungeon, and in more powerful forms), I do think the overworld/dungeon pace changing is pretty cool overall.
- Speaking of the original Necrodancer, a LOT of the enemies' patterns are pulled straight out of the original game, just reskinned as Zelda enemies. Skeletons are now bokoblins, armadillos are now lizalfos, the blobs are chuchus, bats are keese, et cetera. There are a lot of fun callbacks to Necrodancer as well. Obviously some of the music has familiar segments, but I especially liked near the end when you start seeing cardboard cutouts of zombies, skeletons, and other enemies from Necrodancer.
- The differences between the characters are few but cool enough to make them each fun to play around with. Each character has at least one weapon type that only they can use (Link's two-handed swords, Zelda's rapiers, and Cadence's great-shovels) and while short swords and daggers are functionally identical, only Link can use short swords and Zelda/Cadence use daggers. Likewise, Zelda can't use shields like the other two, but Nayru's Love is arguably a much better alternative. And each character has one exclusive special attack: Link's spin attack is powerful and easy to use, Zelda's Smash-esque Din's Fire is versatile and fun, and Cadence has some kind of shovel shockwave move that I haven't really used at all.
- If you give Tingle twenty Deku seeds, you'll unlock a hidden character: Yves the Deku Scrub. This is definitely the "ridiculously hard mode" character of the game, with only one health an an inability to equip new weapons (there were a few such characters in Necrodancer). They're not defenseless, though: Yves does have a standard attack akin to a dagger, can fire Deku nuts, and can hide underground.
- The music is, obviously, fantastic. I hope the soundtrack gets released on Spotify. The original Crypt's OST is up there, but this is Nintendo, so it seems unlikely...
Overall, I really like the game! I hope we get some added content to the game: the original Crypt got a lot of new characters and a new world added well after its original release, so I could see this one getting some DLC eventually. It's also very replayable, with a randomly generated Daily Challenge leaderboard like the original game, leaderboards for lowest-steps and traditional speedruns (someone finished the game in like 29 minutes already!), single-character modes, permadeath mode. I don't know if I'll dig into it quite that much, but it was fun for a few runs, and I'll definitely be back if there's new content down the line.