Time To Take Out The Trash

HIGH It’s an easy-to-learn roguelike with a great soundtrack and aesthetics.

LOW Easily-exploitable mechanics means it’s quick to complete.

WTF Spike immunity due to… management decrees.


Hi everyone! Eugene Sax here with another review from GameCritics.com.

Waking up in an alley with no memory? That’s usually the start of something exciting, if only the previous night can be recalled. While we’re trying to clear the fog, a golden elevator appears and beckons us inside. After a short trip, the door opens to loud dance music, flashing lights, and a bartender who says we’re here before opening. He is in need of a bouncer, though, as the last one can no longer work… or walk.

Necrobouncer is an isometric action-roguelike where players control a necromancer descending from floor to floor with the goal of getting rid of unwanted guests in the establishment. The spectral protagonist feels like this place is familiar for some reason, more than just the place where he spent the last night partying. They take the bouncer job, and descend into the bar to see what all of this is about.

Players will use a club for melee attacks, a ranged spectral energy blast, and a unique ability — based on the necktie the player chooses to wear — in order to eliminate rowdy patrons from the premises. As enemies are defeated, the player will gain experience to level up their abilities. These abilities range from higher max health or energy, having attacks deal more damage, or adding status effects like burning for damage over time, or fear, which forces enemies to run from the player. Enemies might drop health or mana to restore to the character, or gold to buy things before taking on the boss that guards the entrance to the next section of the club.

The bosses themselves are no pushovers. Each of them has periods of invulnerability before they’re able to be attacked, so to get around this, players must solve a small puzzle in order to make them vulnerable. One fight has minions that must be taken out before the boss goes into an attack that will leave them open, while another requires players to hit that boss’ attacks back at them before they can be injured.

As players progress through run after run, they’ll unlock new items to find on future sessions — things like relics to collect, new rooms to discover, and new neckties that grant various starting powers like summoning a zombie horde or using a dash that leaves a dangerous electric trail.

These ties are pretty key as they give players incentives to try out the different options. While I personally fell in love with the purple tie’s horde of zombie allies to summon, I was abysmal with the red tie — it changes how the health system works in exchange for a powerful explosion attack.

While I eventually found my groove, the balance of the game still feels a bit off as far as the randomly-dropped relics are concerned. Some are only useful in the most dire of circumstances, while others can nearly turn the run into an automatic win.

One in particular was the “Trap Permit”, which means that spikes in rooms can’t hurt the player. In most of the rooms, this seems fairly innocuous, but there are certain rooms where players can pass through traps to get even more relics, making the player almost invincible. On the other hand, there’s a relic that will heal the player to full health — it’s probably great in the right circumstance, but enemies tend to drop so much health that it never felt worth picking up. I’d like to see the developers make more relics useful in a wider array of instances and pull back on the ones that make the player wildly overpowered.

One area that feels on target, though, is the humor. There are many small jokes throughout the experience like the immunity to spikes I just mentioned — the player becomes immune because the bar’s management issues a permit? Other relics offer similar winks like giving summoned zombies a “dead man” switch so they explode on contact, or the literal heart in a jar that would give me an extra life if I went to zero health. The boss who attacks from a rocket-powered throne controlled by a joystick gave me a good laugh each time I encountered it, too.

Overall, Necrobouncer is a solid roguelike to start the year off. The soundtrack is a groovy synth and dance mix, the pixel art is beautiful, and I appreciated the script’s humor. It’s also a good starting point for newcomers to the genre, as the mechanics are easy to understand and the tutorials are solid. Each run unlocks new things, so the game constantly feels fresh and inviting. There may not be much to the overall plot besides eventually finding out what happened to our bouncer the night before, but the mechanics are so smooth that I didn’t need a story to keep me coming back.

For me, Necrobouncer gets 8.5 rowdy bar patrons out of 10.

Disclosures: This game is developed by Alchemy Sheep, and published by Ravenage Games and Indie Ark.  It is currently available on PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PC. Approximately 8 hours of play were spent playing the game, and multiple runs were completed. There are no multiplayer modes.

Parents: The game doesn’t currently have an ESRB rating. Players will control a necromancer that will shoot energy bursts and swing a large club at enemies. They will also poison, burn or send zombies to eat enemies. These enemies can fall into piles of pixelated blood and remain on the floor, though this setting can be turned off in game.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes in this game.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: There is text in game, but text is not resizable. Audio mostly serves aesthetic purposes and is not needed for gameplay. The game is fully accessible.

Remappable controls: Controls are fully remappable.

Eugene Sax
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