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Ryu’s Musings – Nekro (beta)

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Before i get into this i wanted to get two things out and upfront:

 

  1. This game is in Beta, so take it as such. Elements i may talk about may change before they game releases. When the game is gully released i will return and do another post on it.
  2. HUGE thanks to the guys over at Dark Forge Games for giving me review code!!

Now onto the game!!

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Title: Nekro
ASIN: None, steam only release: Nekro
Language: English
Publisher: darkForge Games LLC
Format: PC
Type: Game, Single Player, Multiplayer, Local CO-OP
Genre: Adventure, Action, A-RPG

Synopsis:

Nekro challenges you, a once powerful Alchemist, to destroy the  King who betrayed you. As you seek vengeance, you turn to the dark powers of the world, transforming yourself into a Necromancer, raiser of the dead. Summoning an undead army, you march towards the King’s castle, letting nothing stand in your way.

Playing with the speed and fluidity of an old-school action game, Nekro promises an intense and captivating gameplay experience from start to finish. Use different minions in unison to create a force that’s greater than the sum of its parts. Utilize a unique blood mechanic to harvest the flesh of your enemies as you power your undead war machine.

Originally i was reluctant to pick up this game, I’ve been burnt way to many times over the past year with steams Early Access system, however riding high on the wave of Grim Dawn i was considering picking it up. Then low and behold the guys over at Dark Forge actually responded to my email for review code, and gave me one. So this got me all the more interested in the game, a dev. who was actually willing to give a review code to a small time reviewer like me isn’t something I’ve come across before.

So what’s the game about, basically your a undead alchemist out for revenge with a lot of tongue in cheek humour to carry you along as you romp through the kingdom. I actually think the comment one of the dev.’s made on the origins of the game to be the best way of putting it:

Nekro was born in a conversation that went a little something like this: “Wouldn’t it be awesome if there was a game where you could just walk into an innocent town, raise a bunch of zombies, skeletons, and things that go bump in the night, and watch while they rip townspeople to shreds?” The cumulative result of that fateful conversation is what you see before you now.

What surprised me about this game is that while the origins of the game come from that conversation, it hasn’t deviated to much from it. Usually the origin idea gets lost in development due to limitations, or just expanded views. For me this has led to a lot of heart break, games that started out with great ideas getting lost over time. Nekro has managed to keep that original idea, and do good things with it. It’s by no means perfect, but it’s one of the few games coming this year that I’m now genuinely excited about!

Before i get into the meat of the game lets clarify the limitations of the beta, which is made easy since the guys (and gals) over at Dark Forge actually tell you what your getting:

      • 8/20 Levels will be in the game and fully functional.
      • 7/9 Summons will be fully functional and playable.
      • 17/20 Enemy Units are in and functional.
      • 3/5 Nekro Powersets will be fully functional and playable.
      • 14/18 Trinkets are present, collectable and useable.
      • 1/2 of the Multiplayer Units are in and playable.
      • Multiplayer is fully functional.

So we’re getting a little under half of the game, which takes around 3-3.5 hours to complete, which means the full game is probably going to be around the 6-8hour mark. Which isn’t to bad considering the game is on sale for £12 at the moment, after the initial week launch it’ll go to £15, which again isn’t to bad for the content.

One of the things that I’d forgotten about, and was surprised when i realised it, was that the game is made in the unity engine. Unity is one of those engines that i both love and hate, some of my favourite games are in Unity (SPAZ for example), but equally there’s a lot of garbage in it. This is because the dev.’s don’t implement the features properly which result in a lack lustre release that takes a lot to fix, and generally just gets abandoned. However, i can thankfully, and honestly say, this is not the case with this release. The guys over at Dark Forge have done a bloody awesome job using the Unity engine to create a master piece of a game.

This game has a lot of voice acting, which i normally cringe over. Indie VA quality is 9 times out of 10 horrific beyond belief. However Nekro has some of the best VAing I’ve ever heard in a game EVER. Only one game has ever beaten the VA quality and that was Bastion, which i rate as one of the best and unique games ever made. Nekro, like Bastion, has the perfect VA, the guy doing the ‘creepy’ narration voice has it down perfectly! It’s perfectly times, perfectly set and perfectly pitched, hell i found myself replaying the tutorial level a couple of times purely cause i loved the voice Open-mouthed smile

This is also true for the protagonist, or would that be antagonist, I’m not really sure lol. His voice is equally well done, and frankly at times bloody funny and had me reeling with laughter.

Of course this excellent voice acting would have been all for naught if it wasn’t matched with an excellent script, and oh my god it is!

This game has an amazing script, that plays out in journal entries that the main character reads as the game progresses. I love the humour and the fact that he’s doing despicable things, but you can’t help but laugh at it. The humour reminds me a lot of the age old classic TV show, The Munsters!!

I loved the TotalBiscuit homage, and frankly i can see people buying the game simply to beat him up Open-mouthed smile What’s more i loved the character design they did for him.

So, now I’ve gushed love all over the place lets get into things. How is it mechanically? This is one of the areas i feel needs a lot of improvement, but it’s not a bad game as it is already. I feel it could be a lot more user friendly.

For me the biggest problem lies in the way the game handles movement, in games similar to this (ARGP), we’d see a key for movement, and the mouse would be moved for turning. So you move the mouse left the camera and character turns left. In this case however the character looks left, but keeps moving forward.

It took me a long time to get used to using Q/E to turn, and found this rather frustrating. I hope they add in mouse control in one of the coming updates.

Another thing i noticed was a bit of sluggish response from the character when it comes to movement. Yes he’s a slow(ish) moving character but the movement felt more like input lag than anything else. I noticed this also in the combat, there was a lag between pressing the button and the animation starting. This could be my machine, my old rig is on it’s way out and my new one is due in the next week or so. However given the low demands of the game I don’t see how that could be. It could just be an optimisation problem that will no doubt be fixed in time.

Graphically the game looks pretty damn good, which again given it’s engine really surprised me, It reminds me a lot of torchlight 2, graphically, in it’s cartoony appearance and tongue in cheek humour.

SS05

The actual gameplay is decent as well, the ‘Powersets’ are varied enough (the 3 we’ve seen at least), that i can see myself playing the game multiple times as they each play differently. The model designs of the game are bloody awesome, take a look at the concept art:

Concept01

Powersets, are basically your archetypes, healer, ranged and melee, and as i said each plays significantly different that it warrants playing through multiple times as different classes.

I cant help but praise the way the game handles itself as well, it’s a very unforgiving game and you can seriously screw yourself over if you’re not careful. But it never makes it impossible to complete (so far at least). it just means your going to be butt clenching in tension as you get chased around. I actually liked this, it made it clear that your choices are irrevocable and that they will have a big impact on the gameplay.

Makes for a nice change from the normal where games allow you to change things at the drop of a hat.

I also found i like blood system, once i got used to it. The first few levels i had to do several times over whilst learning the class i was playing. This was amazing fun and when i started to get the hang of things i had a great deal of satisfaction with it. I am however in two minds over trinkets, for the most part they feel like a waste, but then something happens and it saves my butt.

The multiplayer, at the time of writing, doesn’t work for me. I got together with a friend who has the game and we couldn’t get connected. We tried everything but no go. I also have to wonder about the way they’re handling the MP, it’s a little unsecure and worrying, and frankly given the nature of it i don’t see anyone playing with anyone they don’t know well enough to trust to give them their IP address.

While it’s definitely great to have the MP element, and I’m keen to test it at some point, i hope they add in some sort of masking or connection system that offers a bit of protection to both parties. Not sure how that would work in Unity though.

So, is the game worth getting? Absolutely, just not off of Steam. Steam are pulling their usual garbage with conversion rates in Euro zone, so i recommend either buying it directly from the Dark Forge website where you will be charged the regional equivalent, or for the time being, you can grab it even cheaper over on the Humble Indie Store where it’s currently £8.99 which is an absolute steal!

HOWEVER buying it from a site other than Steam means you can’t get the deluxe edition which includes the Art Book and Soundtrack, and frankly your going to want that soundtrack because it’s one hell of a OST. The music of the game is just as kick ass as the story and VAing, if your into that style of music.

I’m really looking forward to seeing how this game progresses, and hoping that the problems i have with the game are addressed. What i really want to see though are 2 DLC’s. The first should be added now IMO, and that’s a upgrade option to go from the normal version of the game to the Deluxe version of the game. The Other DLC i want should come after the game is completed and released, the return of the randomised maps.

That DLC alone would bring in so many sales and increase the games life span significantly, and yes i wouldn’t mind paying for it.

I will, as i said, return to the game once it’s finally released and take another look at it. I’m looking forward to seeing how the guys over at Dark Forge move on from here, and what they do next. I honestly don’t see how they can screw this up now, so I’m breaking my vow of never recommending an Early Access game and saying: I RECCOMEND THIS GAME!! Whole heartedly, absolutely, and without hesitation!!

Still not sure? Watch the dev.’s play through the first 5 levels of the Beta:

Ryu sheng

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1 Comment

  1. Good to hear that the voice acting is top notch. Most indie games don’t have voice overs let alone good ones.

    That concept art scares me. Is the Grim Reaper holding his schlong?

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