Who doesn’t love a game where you get to play as the necromancer, raising people from the dead to do your bidding as you slaughter townsfolk to create an even bigger army. Spreading your plague has always been a wholesome past time. You know, fun for the whole family. The necromancer is almost always portrayed as the bad guy, an evil fiend with a taste for destruction. Despite the fun concept, there is a decided lack of necromancer themed titles because of the microscopic market. I haven’t played a necromancer themed game since Diablo 2. Going into Nekro was an adventure in itself.
A demon greets you at the start of the game. There is the standard fare of graphical options to tweak, and they can make the game look beautiful, even in beta. Bloom has always been my favorite effect. Now, I mentioned that there was a demon on the main screen, and there’s a reason for it–your necromancer can summon demons. A lot of them. Your entire necromancer army consists mostly of either twisted wildlife or summoned demons. The undead are actually few and far between. You will end up feasting on the corpses for the most valuable resource of the game, blood. That leaves few bodies that the necromancer can use to spawn monster bats that don’t fare well in battle. The necromancer inflicts the bulk of the damage on the enemy. Depending on your choice of necromancer and your load out, you are either wading in swinging or throwing potions safely behind your wall of minions.
"There is the standard fare of graphical options to tweak, and they can make the game look beautiful, even in beta."
And that’s the frustrating part. The feast command to gain blood is short ranged. Many times you will find yourself just a few inches short of a corpse, wondering why your necromancer is just standing there while you repeatedly mash the feast command. While there is an icon that appears above your head when you have the ability to feast, there’s usually too much going on the screen for you to see it clearly.
Your necromancer’s primary summons are demons and wildlife, which leaves a huge gap where there should be more undead. Skeletons can only be summoned by using demonic eels on a pile of bones. You cannot raise corpses. Instead, they are used as fuel or demolished to create two monster bats. I was disappointed in the lack of the ability to create an undead army, and had to console myself by summoning demons to rip the faces off of the farmers.
"Ripping apart humans with your own two hands is a lot more satisfying than watching your bats gnaw on their necks until the humans die from boredom."
You never get a large army, either. What you do get usually falls pretty quickly in combat, even against lowly farmers. So, it’s up to the necromancer to protect them. That is rather unconventional because in most necromancer games the army is created to protect you. In the context of the story it makes more sense because the necromancer is seeking vengeance. Ripping apart humans with your own two hands is a lot more satisfying than watching your bats gnaw on their necks until the humans die from boredom.
Throughout the missions, there’s a chance to explore the game world. While you are confined to do battle within the level itself, there are enough nooks and crannies to find upgrade points called “sins”. Once a sin is spent, it cannot be retrieved. The necromancer is forced to spend their upgrades wisely. Because I spent my sins for upgrades to my existing demons early on, I was unable to unlock the Bile Demon. The next mission was entirely too tough without it. It would make sense to let players decide whether to unlock demons, instead of creating a level where unlocked demons are a necessity. I was forced to restart the game from the beginning and save enough sins to unlock the Bile Demon. After that, I had no issues with the rest of the game.
"You will find yourself replaying the same levels with different necromancers just for fun because the levels pose different problems to different builds."
A game is designed primarily to entertain. While Nekro does have its faults—some issues with user control, camera and the upgrade path—the game is a lot of fun to play. I didn’t mind restarting levels after being defeated because I learned more about what I was supposed to do. The game is in development, so several necromancers and summons are not yet in the game. The levels are short, but have a puzzle-solving quality to them. You will find yourself replaying the same levels with different necromancers just for fun because the levels pose different problems to different builds. Even with its faults, the game shows a lot of potential. This is a game you will want to keep your eye on.
Preview by: Mark Brenner | Previewed on: PC