“Necrosphere” is an incredibly enjoyable and difficult Metroidvania platformer developed by Cat Nigiri. You take control of Agent Terry Cooper, who has died and gone to the Necrosphere – an afterlife where he will be eternally trapped unless he can find a way out. The Necrosphere is not a welcoming place and Terry’s moveset is initially severely limited. This is because Cat Nigiri asked the question: “How good can a platformer be with only two buttons and no way to jump?”.

necrosphere jump around

When bouncing over sharp spikes, it’s best to look classy in a suit.

Yes, that’s right, “Necrosphere” is a platformer with no jumping. You’d be forgiven for thinking that Cat Nigiri went too far in paring back Terry’s movement options but surprisingly this limitation improves the game. By forcing players to master the basics, Necrosphere can later introduce abilities that heighten the difficulty. Furthermore, old areas open up to reveal new areas that test you further. I went from relying on gravity wells for vertical gain to combining dashes and jetpack bursts to cross large distances or hover through fireballs mazes. Simply, NECROSPHERE’s controls are complex.

necrosphere mort en rose

Mort en Rose.

And even though the tight controls, I still struggled at times. Fortunately for Terry, he has already died, and the generous checkpoint system means I could try again immediately without delay. Combined with music that does not reset upon failure, I didn’t feel punished for failing. Instead, I felt encouraged to do better. Even after countless failed attempts the frustratingly tough sections “Necrosphere” remained fun, in a masochistic sort of way. This is because it rarely uses cheap tricks to stop your progress. Instead, any fault is usually your own. Instead of wearing down my determination to keep going, the keys of my keyboard were worn down because once I started playing “Necrosphere”, I did not stop until hours later.

Necrosphere’s difficult curve is more of a difficulty staircase where you throw yourself against the difficulty wall until you manage to climb up, have a rest, and throw yourself at the new one.

necrosphere vertical falling

Vertical falling/rising sections can be unpredictable.

For all of its positives, “Necrosphere” has some flaws. Most obvious is the 8-bit art style that is going to immediately put some people off. A gameplay issue is that several rising/falling obstacles rely on the player dying (aka “learning ” *cough cough*) multiple times, getting a little further each time. With a wider camera view, these sections would be more fair and utilize player skill instead of player stubbornness.

The largest issue I ran into though was getting lost in the labyrinthian rooms of the “Necrosphere”. Cat Nigiri wisely included a system of torches that are lit when ran over, meaning that when you return to an area. Then you can see whether you have been there before or not, but a world map would have been useful when I was struggling to find the right path to another area. So if the torches revealed the world map as they were discovered, similarly to “Hollow Knight” (another challenging metroidvania), this problem would be solved.

necrosphere when death calls

There are plenty of these “when death calls” moments in “Necrosphere”. In other words, yes, you will die A LOT in this game.

Once I had finished the game, I looked online to see how other players fared. Steam achievement statistics shows that under 1% of players have managed to complete the game without dying and even less have been able to speedrun the game with all DVDs collected, some of which are well hidden or tricky to collect. Aside from collecting these DVDs, I will definitely be replaying “Necrosphere” to try and beat the game without dying, or at least without dying more than 100 times. Let’s hope Terry and I can survive the attempts.

All in all though, “Necrosphere” is a really good but devilishly hard platformer. So if you don’t mind the rather hard difficulty setting (and the pretty unsexy graphics), then “Necrosphere” is the game for you!

+ Faultless controls
+ Excellent music
+ Addicted fair and challenging gameplay

– Rudimentary graphics
– Occasionally unavoidable deaths
– Somewhat confusing world layout

Gameplay: 4/5
Graphics: 2/5
Sound and music:  4/5
Controls: 5/5
Replay value: 4/5

tgg grade 4 out of 5

Verdict: 4/5
For fans of “VVVVV” and “Super Meat Boy”, “Necrosphere” will not disappoint you with its stellar soundtrack and gameplay. However, if you are looking for something that looks nice, then you better look elsewhere.

Title: Necrosphere
Developer: Cat Nigiri
Format: PC
Genre: Platformer
Resolution: 1920×1080
Release date: 2017-09-01
Difficulty: Medium/Hard
Spent time: +4 hours
Average grade internationally: 73% (Metacritic)
PEGI age rating: N/A
Price: £3.99 via Steam

Robin Ek – Editor

Liam Hobbs
The Gaming Ground
Twitter: @LiamJHobbs

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