Grimorio of Games attempts to bring something fresh to the roguelike genre with Sword of the Necromancer. A bite-sized experience, this dungeon crawler sets players in the role of Tama, a former sword for hire turned guardian, as she risks it all to save the person she cares about the most.
Sword of the Necromancer has an interesting gimmick that sets it apart from most roguelikes. Tama can use the titular sword of the necromancer to revive fallen enemies, turning them into allies to assist the player as they crawl through the procedurally generated dungeons. There are more than a handful of these monsters that you can temporarily recruit, each with their own unique strengths and weaknesses. Naturally, some are stronger than most and do come equipped with different elements if you’re lucky enough to come across them.
That being said, Tama can only wield any four abilities, weapons, or enemies at any given time. This means that resource management needs to be done carefully, which makes choosing your build each run all the more deliberate. However, this works as a double-edged sword. Death does not only strip you of your resurrected familiars, but also of any weapon or item that is not the sword of the necromancer. This can make deaths extremely frustrating, and since there isn’t any kind of difficulty adjustment in the way of Hades, it can sometimes feel discouraging to lose items.
The limited slots can also make the game itself a lot more challenging. This is especially so when it comes to accessories or potions you can find in dungeons. The game will often expect players to pick or prioritize one or the other. Do you want to mitigate damage or do you want more weapons or monsters at your disposal? Sword of the Necromancer suffers from this in a way, as it doesn’t really allow the player to maximize their potential outside of the linear paths of damage mitigation or higher damage in general.
Dodging is also a bit different from what rougelike players may be more familiar with. Tama cannot dodge through enemies; she bumps into them instead. Thankfully, players won’t take damage when you run into enemies, but you can easily get trapped in corners, and when this happens it can often result in death. Stamina is also limited and set on a recharge, which means you can’t dodge or dash indefinitely, requiring players to put a little more thought into their movement.
Combat is tight, even if the dodging itself can feel a little floaty. Boss fights have their fair share of repetition, mostly in their mechanics. It’s clear what the game wants you to do, and it’s easy to succeed once you figure it out. These sections are oddly reminiscent of The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons titles, which was fairly enjoyable. However, it is easy to absolutely wipe the floor with some bosses if you have the right monster companions.
What Sword of the Necromancer does have going for it, is its story. While it isn’t anything unique and is mostly derivative of the works that come before it, it does feature an LGBT+ inclusive storyline. Tama, a sarcastic and wry guardian, has decided to locate and use the sword of the necromancer to resurrect the person she cherishes the most: the priestess Koko. The story is short, much like the game, but those looking for another roguelike that has an LGBT+ story might appreciate what Sword of the Necromancer has to offer.
With a unique resurrection mechanic, Sword of the Necromancer seeks to define itself from other games within its now popularized genre. And while it fails to hold a candle to more polished titles, it’s still a game worth visiting.
Sword of the Necromancer is immediately available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.