Have You Played… Crypt Of The Necrodancer?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

I almost didn’t play Crypt of the Necrodancer [official site]. A roguelite dungeoncrawler with a rhythm action gimmick? Lord have mercy, I thought to myself, what will they think of next. That the game’s music and rhythmic actions are a brilliantly realised and fundamental central mechanic rather than a gimmick is such a delightful surprise.

Crypt of the Necrodancer is a turn-based game about timing and that in itself is such a wonderfully subversive idea that the game would be worth picking up even if it didn’t have such a brilliant selection of music as backdrop to your bopping. The first time I saw a singing shopkeeper, belting out a perfect vocal line to go with the dungeon’s score, I gathered as many people as I could to make them watch and listen to my next attempt. To hell with yer exploding White Houses and deaths in the party, that singing shopkeeper was one of my favourite gaming moments.

Even though it makes me chuckle, I still find the title annoying. It suggests whimsy. The Crypt does contain whimsy, sure, but as Quinns recognised in his Cog Watch video, this is a thoughtful and intelligent take on turn-based tactics. It introduces urgency, along with some funky beats.


  1. Wowbagger says:

    I want to play more of this, only I am absolutely terrible at it.I love the music and the singing shopkeepers but not sure I can push through the rubbish part (me).

    • ButteringSundays says:

      I feel the same way. Absolutely love the game, and certainly wouldn’t want it to be easier, but I just don’t think I’ve got good enough rhythm – you also need quick reflexes and the ability to shift strategy at a beats notice.

      But there’s so many good things to say about it – it’s totally polished and I leave wanting for nothing. My cons list is literally just ‘I’m not good at it’.

      • ButteringSundays says:

        Forgot to mention – I also had a weird steam cloud save based bug/hiccup that made steam think I’d played it for 70 hours instead of more like 8. So I kind of feel like I need to play more of it and get good, lest someone ever see my performance and play time and think Im actually the worst player ever.

    • Crafter says:

      You should be able to learn enough of the enemies patterns and items effect to get by with the first 2 characters of the story.
      The next one dies each time you miss a beat, so that’s definitely way harder. I am reasonably good with the first two characters (ie I don’t die all the time) but I am also rubbish with that last one.
      The first 2 characters are too forgiving against missed beats, so you don’t really have to learn to follow the music with them.

    • kalzekdor says:

      There is one character (the Bard I think? It’s been a while) that actually disables the rhythm part of the game, turning it into a pure turn-based roguelite. Worth a shot if you find yourself sucking at the timing.

    • StAUG says:

      Pretty much. Great game but I can’t get past the 3rd world :(

  2. Nevard says:

    I played this game less than I expected to but I still really like it, would probably go back to it if the Isaac expansion wasn’t coming out in 3 days.

  3. LTK says:

    Have I! It’s one of those few roguelikes that are completely captivating from start to finish. It demands your full and undivided attention, you’re constantly thinking one or two steps ahead, and you need to be able to keep cool under pressure or you’ll get knocked off your rhythm and murdered.

    Beating the final boss with each of the three main characters is second on my list of greatest gaming achievements. Number one is beating the final boss of Teleglitch.

    CotN has an almost unlimited spectrum of challenge. It has an easy mode for dance mats, a hard mode where you have to beat all the levels in a row like a conventional roguelike, a character who dies in one hit, a character who dies when picking up gold, a character who moves double speed, and more.

    It has a mode where you have to beat the game with every character consecutively, without dying. Then there’s a final character not included in an all characters run, because he combines the one-hitpoint, deadly gold and double speed attributes into one, making him ludicrously difficult and mastering him nothing short of a superhuman feat.

    If there was ever a game that will never cease being challenging, it’s Crypt of the Necrodancer.

  4. fish99 says:

    Same story as some of the posters above, I like the game, love the music, but I’m really bad at it. I managed to beat easy mode back in early access but couldn’t get any further and haven’t played it since.

    Never really played a rhythm game before though.

  5. Premium User Badge

    Hodge says:

    Yes! It’s one of my favourite games ever and I still do the daily challenges (bombed out on Deep Blues today with barely 300 coins to my name – bah!).

    I especially recommend it to people who usually hate rhythm action games, as really it’s nothing like one.

  6. anjovi says:

    not a fan of the chiptune music myself but….This game works so great with my own music! though it is a bit fiddly, basically i have a folder of music for the game and i load that playlist into every level so i can always have random music….

    It’s so fun from mambo italiano, to shame on a nigga, down in mexico…you can really enjoy your music in a new way.

  7. benkc says:

    I played it intensely for maybe two weeks, before finally giving up because I just *could not* beat the fourth zone. (I could beat each of the enemies consistently in practice mode, but I just couldn’t pull it all together in one run through that zone.)

    The game was great, and the King Conga fight was the cleverest thing ever. (I was absolutely terrible at it.)

  8. ersetzen says:

    Never played as much as some other rogue likes, but it’s one of those I come back again and again.

    Also, the community workshop is kind of amazing. Especially the full megaman conversion and soundtrack remix.

  9. Banks says:

    I loved It, It’s utterly fantastic. Unfortunately, It’s also way harder than I can handle.

  10. k47 says:

    I loved it, took me around 60 hours until I finally beat the story with the 3 main characters (each one has a different mechanic, difficulty, and final boss).

    Lately I only go back to it when I’m in a bad mood. It’s really my go-to choice to put headphones to max, play for fun for one or two runs, and come out of it in a good mood again.

  11. GBAAJACK says:

    I hope the company increase Dorian and Eli story.
    to make know why Dorian under sell and Eli lost his right arm

  12. Rane2k says:

    If only you could dance with the monsters…

    The term “turn-based” is suggests a slow, ponderous gameplay, but this is actually quite frantic at times. (Tough at the heart it is indeed turn based.)

    Anyway, its a fantastic game that I keep coming back to again and again. The soundtrack by Danny Barranowsky is one of the reasons, I even bought that on soundcloud. :-)

    Currently, I am trying to beat the speedrun achievement and the daily challenge. (Damn you Black Skeleton Wizard, why again do you do 2 full hearts of damage?)

  13. pertusaria says:

    Like a lot of the other posters, I don’t think I’ll ever put in enough hours to get good at this, but I don’t regret buying it (the first time I saw it mentioned on RPS) in the slightest. I enjoyed my time with it and salute the devs for putting so much love into something so off-the-wall.