‘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: