Aside from Darkest Dungeon, the most unique dungeon crawler on Nintendo Switch has to be Crypt of the Necrodancer. It’s a genre mash-up between rhythm games and dungeon crawlers featuring some bopping electronic music that the player and enemies must move to; however, being different doesn’t necessarily mean better.
The core aspects from traditional dungeon crawlers are all present in Crypt of the Necrodancer: randomly generated floors, enemies that are tough-as-nails, and plenty of loot. Players will collect gold coins across each floor of their run that can be used at randomly-placed shops. These shops are meant to enhance the player’s current run: they’ll be able to purchase a new weapon, a key, or sometimes a food item to replenish their health. Anything purchased in these shops will be lost as soon as the player dies; however, players will also find diamonds that they can collect through each run that are used in the central hub area between each run. There, players can purchase items and upgrades that apply across all runs, like additional health. This adds a sense of progression to Crypt of the Necrodancer that other Nintendo Switch dungeon crawlers — notably DragonFangZ — needed but didn’t have.
In the hub area, players are able to select which zone they want to dive into for a dungeon-crawling run, spend diamonds on upgrades, select their character, and more — there are a number of new sections that are unlocked the further players progress in the game.
What sets Crypt of the Necrodancer apart from the standard dungeon crawler is the rhythm aspect: each action the player takes, whether it be moving from one spot to another, attacking, or buying an item, must be done to the beat of the catchy electronic tune playing in the background, otherwise they’ll lose a score multiplier. Unfortunately, that’s the extent to the rhythm mechanic for most of the game’s characters (a couple optional characters will die if they don’t move to the beat, though). What’s far more impactful is that enemies will also move to the beat, making scenarios with a myriad of enemies on screen even more chaotic when there’s a high-tempo track playing.
There are a bunch of different characters that players can dungeon crawl as, and most of them are locked from the start of the game. They all have their own quirks that change the crawl in small ways, but for the most part the most notable difference between them is their starting equipment.
The outlier to that, however, is the bard. The bard can ignore the beat without losing the score multiplier, but enemies will move whenever the bard moves instead of moving to the beat. He also starts off with some pretty weak weaponry.
Although the rhythm aspects in Crypt of the Necrodancer aren’t as fleshed out as I was hoping for (it’s really just a suggestion to play to the beat), the enemy design and soundtrack are pretty dang good. Skeletons dance around the map, giant minotaur-looking creatures carry harps, and the shop owner bursts out into an opera song as players get closer and closer to them.
System reviewed on: Nintendo Switch.
Disclaimer: A review code for Crypt of the Necrodancer was provided by Brace Yourself Games.