Fireballs. All. The. Fireballs. If you don’t enjoy dying ad nauseam to floating pixelated fireballs, then Necrosphere is not the game for you. Even if you do like dying to pixelated fireballs, Necrosphere still might not be the game for you. Necrosphere touts itself as being a frustratingly difficult Metroidvania in which players can only use two keys. That’s right: two keys. Four generations of console evolution and decades of PC gaming are thrown out the window in what is, initially, a playful and enjoyable experience. While Necrosphere starts out strong as something of a Super Mario Maker level-but-bigger with its unique control scheme, the game quickly falls apart as you gain additional powers. Even though Necrosphere wants to be hard, the limitations of its two key control do more to hinder its fun rather than empower its difficulty. This is our Necrosphere review.
What is Necrosphere?
Necrosphere is more an obstacle course than anything else. With only two directional keys in your arsenal, you literally run yourself into death rather than defeating it. It’s interesting at first, but such limited options leave you with few interesting choices. Do you run straight into the bubble and bounce into a fireball? Or do you run straight into the fireball sans-bubble because you hate yourself? Sure there are spikes and little goblin fellows, but no murderous pixel is so prevalent as the lingering, floating, flying, bouncing, godforsaken fireball. It is less a Metroidvania and more a long Super Mario Maker level hell bent on making you pull your hair out. Also, fireballs.
Controls and Powers
You don’t unlock your first ability until you find the pink ballerina suit. It’s as absurd as Mario picking up a leaf, gaining a Racoon tail, then flying. The ballerina suit gives you the ability to dash by double tapping a directional key. It is a welcome addition and a Zelda-like horizontal power growth. The game hits a satisfying stride with the controls. Dashing is satisfying and the level design lends itself to enjoyable puzzles. You eventually acquire gauntlets that can break rocks and kill little green gremlins which rarely show up. These do little else other than giving players access to areas hidden behind breakables. Where Necrosphere loses its fun is the jetpack. With only two keys, not only is using it hard, which is something the game wants to be, it is neither fun nor intuitive. Despite how often you are forced to use it, it never feels comfortable. This is ultimately where the game loses its fun factor, even for speed runs, and ultimately shines a light on the disadvantage of its two key control scheme.
Built to Kill
Necrosphere is unapologetic when it comes to difficulty. There are no options to adjust how hard the game is.. Players are either good enough at the timing or they aren’t. Luckily most autosave points are right before imminent death. That is one of the few scarce niceties the game gives players. The puzzles vary vastly in difficulty and are some of the more creative obstacles aren’t used more than once, which is disappointing.
There is fun in the game, as evident by the enjoyable beginning, but it doesn’t last long in what is an already short game. It’s a snack sized game in a world where Dead Cells, Hyper Light Drifter, and anxiety inducing levels of Super Mario Maker exist. Unfortunately, it’s unique two key control system does little to separate it from those other titles.
Necrosphere Review Score: 4/10
- Fun beginning where the controls enabled fun rather than eliminate it
- You die consistently in hell wearing a pink ballerina suit
- Pleasantly difficult obstacles
- Two key control system hinders player and level options and create unfun difficulty
- Wide open areas feel empty and unused