Sword of the Necromancer is a title developed by Grimoire of Games and published by two publishers: JanduSoft e Game Seer Ventures. Available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC and next-generation consoles (PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X / S), Sword of the Necromancer tells a story story of deep friendship. What will push our protagonist to do this adventure inside very dangerous dungeons it is in fact very similar to that of Wander, protagonist of Shadow of the Colossus. But let's see the details together in this review.
A deep feeling: friendship
Sword of the Necromancer is friendship. As soon as the game is launched, we will see a brief introduction of the two protagonists, Tama and Koko, who will come separated by a terrible event, which will push Tama to face death itself, so that she can bring her dear friend back to life. A very simple plot, which at times recalls Shadow of the Colossus, title released in 2005 and created by Team Ico. Unlike Wander, however, we will immediately find a way to bring our "princess in danger" back to life. In fact, the Sword of the Necromancer is already available from the tutorial, but unfortunately it won't work on Koko. In a moment of desperation, our protagonist he will hear the voice of the necromancer, who will invite her into the dungeon, explaining that only by obtaining his power will he succeed in the enterprise.
Sword of the Necromancer is a title based on trial and error. Its maps are procedurally created and, consequently, every time you start over you will never face the same game. At our disposal we will have only one weapon: the Sword of the Necromancer. All the rest of the equipment you will find it as you progress through the map. Here comes one of the funniest mechanics in the whole game. In fact, being owners of this phantom sword, we can make our enemies return from the world of the dead and turn them into very useful minions. In fact, each of them has its own vitality and can be connected to one of the three remaining keys. Three because one will be used for the attack (on Nintendo Switch it's A, ed). So, our enemies could become real weapons to be used in case of need, and in close-ups this is crucial, since it will not be possible to obtain performance equipment, unless you are particularly lucky. Obviously, in case you find defense weapons or amulets, you will have to sacrifice one of the monsters, or choose not to take the equipment. Everything is in your hands.
As for the feeling when attacking, everything is very reactive, even if you can only press A three times; yes, because the basic combo is three hits, after which our protagonist will have a moment of "pause" and you will not have control over the situation. Therefore, before attacking an enemy, you will have to pay attention to the area and the positioning (both yours and the opponents). The various monsters have patterns that can be learned by heart, so they can be eliminated easily, but the real nightmare of any adventurer of Sword of the Necromancer are the boss fights. Obviously, it's right that they are the hardest part of the game, but these fearsome opponents manage to overwhelm the player with a few moves, killing him as if he had never played. This is the only real point against the production, which for the rest it is never unfair against the user on duty.
Also, the moment you die and repeat everything from the beginning, you will begin to notice one of the biggest flaws of the title: the repetitiveness. We are not referring to actions, but to maps. Yes, unfortunately it becomes easily predictable to understand what will be on the other side of the black screen, a detail that tires easily; something that does not happen, for example, playing The Binding of Isaac or Hades. So what happens when the player is defeated? Well, obviously he loses all the collected equipment, but the Experience Points are also destined for the same treatment. Yup, Sword of the Necromancer is a procedural roguelite with XP. What are they for? Trivially, to obtain level-ups (which will be automatic) which will allow the player to receive more vitality or more stamina, so you can better dodge enemies. In fact, as in many games of the genre, we will have the "life bar" in the form of hearts, and the stamina will be represented by blue dots. Each time the dodge key is pressed, one will be consumed. Unlike life points, these will return after a short cooldown period.
Having to know when to dodge is one very nice mechanics of Sword of the Necromancer, because it puts the player in a condition of urgency. What do you mean? A wrong dodge means death, but one at the right time can save you from a horrible end. In a nutshell, the developers had some pretty original ideas, but they still come destroyed by the repetitiveness of the maps.
From a graphic point of view, we have really well done pixel art. The colors used and the style are able to fully represent that game type is Sword of the Necromancer, making it unique. Furthermore, what is striking is the initial cutscene, which summarizes in an almost “opening anime” style the story we are going to live and the drama of the separation experienced by the two young girls. If in the graphic style we see "authorship", unfortunately the same cannot be said of the audio sector. The tracks of the soundtrack have a bitter taste of "already heard", but still manage to accompany the player worthily on their journey; unfortunately, however, in fact they never manage to hit the mark. The same goes for the various in-game sound effects: well done, but anonymous. During our test we did not have particular problems in terms of gameplay, there were no glitches or bugs. We can therefore say that, from a technical point of view, Sword of the Necromancer runs perfectly on Nintendo Switch Lite.
At this point, we must therefore ask ourselves a question as simple as it is important: is Sword of the Necromancer worth buying? The answer, in this case, cannot be a yes or a no. This is because it all depends on the kind of player you are. If you are primarily interested in fiction and believe you can look beyond the repetition of maps, then yes, this game is for you ... otherwise, you should go to other shores. Unfortunately, some problems we have talked about extensively could really undermine the desire to play, despite the plot is particularly interesting and in a certain sense unusual, since yes, we will have to "save the princess", but in this case our Koko will already be dead.