Necrosphere is a Metroidvania style 2D platformer from Cat Nigiri. The game has a strong focus on difficulty, and with very little combat, it tasks you with getting past various platforming challenges as you work your way out of the Necrosphere, hell basically.
In lieu of a jump button there are numerous bubbles throughout the entire game which you use to jump from. This leads to some excellent sequences in the game where you must bounce from bubble to bubble all while avoiding spikes, fire and the occasional enemy. Like Metroid you will run into paths that you can’t get to yet, only to come back to them later once you have the necessary power-up.
That makes up the core of the game, going to four different zones, collecting the power-up, and coming back to reach new areas you couldn’t before. The most prominent of these upgrades are a side kick, which lunges you a direction when you double tap either left or right, and a jetpack which allows you to fly straight up when you hold both the left and right keys.
The game does an excellent job of slowly teaching you how each new power-up will work, as it gives you easy challenges to start, and then ramps them up in difficulty as you get further. This made it easy to grasp the new concepts as they were presented, while still maintaining the difficult nature of the game, and the game sure is difficult.
There are many times when a platforming segment required near-perfect precision, and eventually it starts to add timing into the precision. Thankfully the movement felt good, and I never once felt like the challenges were impossible, just tough. With that in mind many of the platforming sections were unique and made excellent use of the skills the game gives you.
The level design is great, it was always clear what I needed to do in an area, and there are areas with more difficult challenges which net you a collectible DVD. These DVDs unlock new bonus levels which are more difficult, but also look different and have different challenges, but only if you have the deluxe version of the game.
However, in the later game the difficulty ramps up exponentially, and the two-button controls which were unique at first, ultimately became a hindrance. Much of the final zone requires you to chain jetpack flying with the side lunge, and I died many times simply because I could not double tap the button fast enough, or because I double tapped it on accident. At the same time, you often needed to go quickly because a fireball chases you, and time moving platforms or flame walls so you can progress.
This last section was one of the few moments in the game when I got frustrated, and more often than not it was because of the controls. One thing the game sorely needs is the option to rebind the keys, or at least change it so the jetpack and the side kick isn’t on the same keys. This would have made the incredibly difficult last section of the game much more manageable, and a lot less stressful in my opinion.
The graphics in Necrosphere are well done 8-bit style graphics, and each section in the game is easily distinguishable from the others, both in look and in color. The 2D 8-bit style graphics serves the game well, and I think gives the game a certain charm in its look.
The music as well is a throwback to the old-school style of games, with chiptune style music filled with beeps and boops. While not the best music I have ever heard, it was still pretty good, and there were a few songs in particular that stood out to me. Like the graphics, the music fits the game well, and adds to the 8-bit style charm that many indie games go for.
Overall Necrosphere is a fun little challenging platforming, that would have greatly benefited from the option to rebind keys. The level design is excellent, and does a good job of teaching you how to use new skills, and has a unique gameplay style for a platformer.
While a majority of the game is manageable and not overly difficult, the massive difficulty spike towards the end made the game more frustrating than it needed to be, and compared to the other parts of the game it felt like it was a hardcore optional challenge mode, not the final level. Despite that Necrosphere is still an enjoyable test of patience and skill and an easy recommendation for fans of difficult platformers. 8/10