Shadowrun Return Devs Return With Necropolis

Monument Death Valley

‘Necropolis’ is a word which is surprisingly meaningful to me. This is because I was raised in the city of dead, sent out into the wretched world of the living to spread decay and despair. And also because Necropolis was the first-ever Judge Dredd story I read (in fact I came in halfway through) and my tiny mind was blown by the discovery that comics could be so bleak and sinister and amoral and, well, grown-up. The X-Men, my staple diet until then, suddenly looked like clowns.

…Must resist the urge to just bang on about Judge Dredd for three thousand words. Today I was startled to see the word ‘Necropolis’ pop up in a brand new context, that being a “brutal” dungeoneering game from the makers of Shadowrun Returns.

Shadowrun Returns expansion pack, later rejiggered as a standalone director’s cut, Dragonfall, was great, so I’m dead interested in what dev Harebrained Schemes get up to next. That said, apparently Necropolis is “set in a magical deathtrap that shifts and reconstructs itself around you”, but I already spent three years of my life in Swansea and I’m not convinced I want to go back.

What Necropolis is most leaning on – other than its very much in-vogue art style – is a fast, timing-based combat system that’s heavy on the animations and attack patterns. Very much not roguelike combat, in other words.

Procedurally-generated levels are inevitably included, but the twist here is that a dungeon will do the Dark City thing around you, and there’ll be player abilities to deliberately alter the layout. Also monsters have their own prey and predators, which can be exploited in some way.

There’s also a promise of ‘self-aware dark humour’ which satirises early D&D tropes. You gotta be careful with that stuff, but there was some sharp writing in Dragonfall so I won’t be too wary at this stage.

No videos as yet, and we won’t be seeing a finished version until 2016 (though I’d place a small wager on Early Access next year), but there’s an official website with a fancy-pants introduction here and a devblog to follow here. Here’s a mini Pyramid Head to look at in the meantime too:

38 Comments

  1. MykulJaxin says:

    Oh my. This looks cool. I wish we had a video or more to go on, but consider my interest piqued. Maybe I’m just a Dark Souls fanboy, but you put a bonfire down and surround it with dejected characters and I’m interested.

    Slightly on topic, and speaking of Necropoli: Check out Jake Wyatt’s Necropolis, really cool stuff- link to jakewyattriot.tumblr.com

  2. Banks says:

    I enjoyed Dragonfall very much, so I’m really looking forward to whatever they do.

  3. kwyjibo says:

    Shadowrun Returns did ridiculously well on Kickstarter ($1.8M), and while I doubt their next project would pull in the same kind of figures, I’d be surprised if they gave crowdfunding a miss entirely.

  4. DrMcCoy says:

    …So it’s going to be a twitchy vapid action thing instead of a story-driven RPG with tactical combat? Colour me disappointed and completely uninterested. :(

    • AXAXAXAS MLO II: MLO HARDER says:

      It may be a story-based action thing with tactical twich combat.

    • Bassem says:

      See, I’ve had the exact opposite reaction. I don’t like turn-based or pause-based combat, which makes Dragonfall a tease for me, so this is good news to me.

      Opinions!

  5. commentingaccount says:

    What the hell is the Dark City thing? Not all of us have seen the film. :P

    • Xocrates says:

      It means the level changes around you.

      (In the movie, new buildings sprout out of the ground, change places/shape, etc…)

    • MisterFurious says:

      Well, go watch it, then. It’s not that long and it’s a good movie.

    • Hex says:

      It’s a good movie, you should give it a go. Jennifer Connelly before she got all weird and jagged looking. (Not exactly what the movie’s about, but I just watched Noah so it’s fresh on my mind.)

    • Haborym says:

      Dark City was a pretty good movie. I too shall recommend that you watch it.

    • draglikepull says:

      Dark City is like The Matrix but smarter, and it came out earlier.

    • bonuswavepilot says:

      Yeah, it’s pretty good. Ending was a bit silly, but the whole thing was very stylish and the story had some good conceits.

      • Premium User Badge

        Harlander says:

        Just be careful trying to watch it on a LCD screen. It’s not called Dark City for nothin’!

  6. montorsi says:

    I’m in for whatever they want to do next. Loved the writing in Shadowrun Returns.

  7. Haborym says:

    I always liked the shit they published in Heavy Metal. They had this one really neat comic called Requiem Chevalier Vampire, that was pretty cool. Was about some Nazi who got sent to hell and became a vampire.

  8. padger says:

    Now THAT is a website.

  9. johann tor says:

    This is being designed by Dennis Detwiller, of Delta Green fame. I will be keeping an eye on this one.

    • Emeraude says:

      Ye, between his involvement and HBS – which despite the rough bumps in the ride have proven in my opinion to be deserving of the support after Shadowrun Returns, I’m looking forward to where this is going..

    • damoqles says:

      Damn, I didn’t even notice.
      Dennis is brilliant!

  10. Core says:

    Anyone know if they are still planning to do more content for Shadowrun? I kinda wished that they would make more dlc for it. Really enjoyed dragonfall.

  11. twaitsfan says:

    When I hear ‘necropolis’ all I can think of is Gene Wolfe and Shadow of the Torturer.

  12. Premium User Badge

    steves says:

    “Must resist the urge to just bang on about Judge Dredd for three thousand words”

    Please don’t resist.

    “a fast, timing-based combat system that’s heavy on the animations and attack patterns… ‘self-aware dark humour’ which satirises early D&D tropes”

    Want some of that.

  13. Contrafibularity says:

    Quite enjoyed SRR and Dragonfall and this sounds intriguing so colour me interested.

  14. malkav11 says:

    I wish them well and Detwiller’s involvement has me interested, but I really hoped they’d stick with turn-based combat. Even with it being a popular choice for Kickstarter RPG and strategy projects, it still feels under represented in the market and I really don’t care for fast, action-y combat, especially if it’s timing-based rather than supportive of my flailing at the buttons.

  15. JimmyG says:

    I like the ideas on display so far. The dungeon and associated crawling are such overbearing but important parts of videogame history, it’s nice to see someone pay homage while being a little different (the sleek sci-fantasy aesthetic, the idea of twitchy combat). And the website’s cool … but that poetry really needs some rhythm. They’re simple rhyming quatrains, which is fine — but there’s no cadence. No flow. If you try to read it out loud (or hear it in your head), it comes out garbled and unpaced. I know I can’t say this stuff without sounding like a snob, but it’s really not that hard to write iambs. Most native English speakers do it at some point in high school.

    Sorry I’m lashing out a bit. I’ve just seen so much rhythmless poetry in videogames and the surrounding culture — like every time the stupid Headless Horseman shows up in WoW, as a recent example. A lot of people think all you have to do is rhyme, and it’ll sound good — but rhythm makes it sound so much better. Maybe I shoulda kept it to myself, cuz I think the game looks cool. I’m excited to learn more. I just — have this thing. About counting syllables. It stresses me out.

  16. bill says:

    So, on Judge Dredd:
    – Does Rebellion still own 2000AD and if so why are they doing sod all with the licenses?
    – Why didn’t Rebellion make a Dredd game to coincide with the movie (which I think I saw their logo on) (which is awesome and you should watch if you haven’t).
    – Why haven’t Rebellion/2000AD done a 2000AD comic bundle on Humble Bundle? It’d be a great way to get more people (especially in the US) into 200AD and that would lead to more potential for profitable games in the future.
    – If Rebellion aren’t going to do anything with the licenses, do you think they’d lend them out to smaller teams to make kickstarter-esque games. (Given the success of things like Shadowrun, you’d think 2000AD/Dredd/Rogue Trooper would do well)

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      They sure do. They’ve been doing a bit of cross-media stuff – some prequel comics in the style of the Dredd movie – but they’ve not been great at it.

      Their 2000AD video-games have been a bit hit and miss, but I remember Rogue Trooper being pretty good

      • damoqles says:

        Rogue Trooper is probably my favorite TPS from that era. Such an underappreciated game.

        • bill says:

          Rogue Trooper was indeed excellent, but it came out at the end of a console generation and so looked dated and was mostly ignored on arrival.
          From what I hear, their Judge Dredd game had a few good ideas like being able to threaten and arrest perps, but then it fell down the ‘make all the bad guys zombies’ trap that Thief almost fell into.
          But why haven’t they done anything since then????

          There are other decent properties under the 2000AD umbrella, and Dredd and Rogue Trooper are definitely worth revisiting.

          I wonder if the lack of awareness in the USA makes them too niche a property… but then things like Kickstarter/Indie are perfect for niche properties.

          A humble comic bundle with decent origin versions of all the main characters would be a great way to get the ball rolling.

  17. dethtoll says:

    My first brush with the word was in Quake and I forever associate it with that game.

    And I love the look of this.