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Nekro – Early Access Review

By Nathaniel Liles

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In my defense, I'm only trying to possess this thing's unborn child.
In my defense, I’m only trying to possess this thing’s unborn child.

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]’m sure you guys are sick of hearing me say this, but going in to Nekro, I had no idea what to expect. I asked my boss, Greg, to hook me up with something to review that would look really nice on my sparkly new computer, and he sent me a code for Nekro Steam Early Access. I like to go into these things blind so I don’t develop any bias before I even start playing the game, but I had it in my head that Nekro was going to be some sort of survival horror game. I was very, very wrong. I was hilariously wrong. Nekro is the exact opposite of a survival horror game to the point where the player must actively seek out dead people. Oh, and also, by the way, in addition to that, as well… You eat them. Well… You don’t always eat them. Sometimes you make them explode into bat minions. Blood bat minions. I enjoy this game.

I wasn't kidding. Look at the Gib Count
I wasn’t kidding. Look at the Gib Count

The first thing you’ll notice when playing is how good this game looks. For a crowdfunded game, Nekro has one of the most polished AAA looks I’ve ever seen. You play from a bird’s eye view, reminiscent of Diablo, but the way you control the camera is something I’ve never seen before. I’ll touch on that later. This paragraph is for aesthetics and presentation, all of which are solid as hell. As I mentioned before, I was looking forward to turning all the graphics settings on Nekro up as high as they’d go, and I was not disappointed. The graphics are awesome, as we’ve already established, but one of the settings is – I kid you not – “Metric Shit-ton”. I wouldn’t lie to you about this. As cool as Starwhal’s single graphics setting is (You can only set the graphics to “Radical”), this one takes the cake. So, now that we’ve gotten past the icing, let’s see how good the rest of the cake is.

ACH. WOLVES.
ACH. WOLVES.

Even though this whole “cake” metaphor stopped working halfway through the last paragraph, that doesn’t mean Nekro’s gameplay is any less delicious. After choosing your ghoulish apparition, you are thrust into a scenario that is best described as MOBA meets RTS. The earlier levels don’t really need a strategic approach, but the further forward you move, the more you have to think about managing resources (blood) and approaching situations in the best way possible. I recorded a stream of Nekro that should be coming to our YouTube soon, and I end up playing the same level about five times, so the challenge is very present.

These bats are adorable in their own awful way.
These bats are adorable in their own awful way.

The controls, however, can get a bit wonky at times. Your camera stays at one static angle unless you manually turn it by moving your mouse to the left or right side of the screen or by pressing A or D. While that’s not hard to learn or adapt to, it’s an unneeded method of doing things, and I’m not a fan. Giving Nekro normal 3rd person shooter controls would’ve been just fine, but this new control scheme isn’t hard to learn it’s just… Offbeat. Everything else works as it should, with spells being assigned to your numbers and your most-used abilities on the mouse. My one other gripe is how trinkets are selected and used. Trinkets are essentially a group of one-use spells that you choose before a level, and the selection and use of these can be a pain when you’re in a tight spot (i.e. the only time you’d need a trinket).

Aaaaand I died. That didn't take long.
Aaaaand I died. That didn’t take long.

Overall, Nekro was a fantastic experience, and I’m happy I got to experience it in all of its glory. Blood everywhere, clever writing, great character designs, and thought-provoking gameplay make this one of the most stimulating and puzzling takes on action I’ve ever played. I love how gameplay elements from MOBA and RTS were blended into what could’ve been just another roguelike, and I can recommend Nekro to anyone who doesn’t faint at the sight of blood. (There’s a lot of blood. Did I mention the blood?)

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Nathaniel Liles
Nathaniel Liles is a freelance writer, writing major, and indie musician based in Southern Indiana. While procrastinating or avoiding real-world responsibility, Nathaniel enjoys playing rhythm games, action RPGs, and very colorful games with many bright, flashing lights. You can listen to Nathaniel sing songs or download his music for free at http://nathanielliles.bandcamp.com/.
Nathaniel Liles