Necromania: Traps of Darkness Review

Necromania's poorly implemented design, clunky interface, Stone Age graphics, and horrible sound effects combine to form a product that is impossible to recommend to anyone.

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At first glance, Necromania: Traps of Darkness appears to be yet another 2D, dungeon-crawling Diablo clone, with click-to-attack gameplay and an isometric, overhead viewpoint. Unfortunately, it's actually a lot worse than that description. Necromania is more of a strategic puzzle game than it is an action role-playing game. There's usually nothing wrong with that, but in this case, the game's poorly implemented design, clunky interface, Stone Age graphics, and horrible sound effects combine to form a product that is impossible to recommend to anyone.

Seven different classes are available for play.

In the game, you take the role of one of seven different servants of Ragnar, an evil god who has been locked up by the good guys. You and the six other servants have broken out of your own prison, and you must compete with one another to be the first to free your master. The seven servants consist of different character classes, ranging from an orc sleuth, to a magician, a knight, and a skeleton warrior. Each class has varying speed and strength, a melee attack, a special skill (the magician turns invisible, while the fog woman can turn into invincible fog, for instance), and the ability to lay traps.

The playing area in Necromania is broken up into 20 small levels, spanning four different settings, including a prison, a forest, caves, and a mountainous region. Some of the levels have multiple floors, but your goal in all of them is the same: Gather up enough keys to open all the locked doors, and find the three pieces of the skeleton key that will let you access the exit portal to the level for victory. Standing in your way are other artificial intelligent-controlled servants that are also searching boxes and barrels in the level for the keys, as well as tons of Indiana Jones-inspired environmental hazards like flame jets and blade-trapped doorways. The idea behind each level is that you must find the keys before your opponents do, or defeat them in battle and take away the keys they've found, so you can find your way out. You can set traps in devious ways to kill your opponents, such as placing a teleporter in a busy hallway that will warp an enemy into the middle of a trapped door. Power-ups are also scattered around the level, and they can increase your fighting ability.

On paper, the premise of Necromania sounds alright; but in practice, the game is more frustrating than it is fun. Chief among the frustrations is that it's difficult to tell if a key or a piece of a key that you need is still hidden in some box on the level, or if it's being carried by one of your opponents. When you finally get to that last locked door, and you realize you need to take another walk around the level and check every single barrel and box, as well as kill your enemies who are searching for that last key, you'll struggle to keep from pulling out your hair (especially when you find yourself on the opposite side of the level looking for the key and you see one of your enemies escape through the portal, which results in a loss for you). And speaking of keys, the developers of Necromania force you to press a button on the keyboard in order to open a locked door. When you're running from an enemy while dodging flame jets and poisonous spiders, fumbling for that button on the keyboard to open the door doesn't make much sense, considering every other game lets you simply click on a locked door to open it when you possess the correct key.

The game looks about as bad as it plays.

On a more fundamental level, the combat in Necromania just isn't that fun. Sure, it can be satisfying to set up a clever trap that sucks your enemies into a death pit. But the cost of setting devious traps (wasting time that could be spent looking for keys) just isn't commensurate with the reward (which is the small possibility that the defeated enemy might drop something useful). It's much more efficient to just fight enemies that you run into, although the combat in the game is dull and simply not fun. If you have a character who's stronger than the opponent, you can just stand and mash on the melee button until the enemy dies. If you're faster, you engage briefly, and then try to get your opponent to chase you as you drop traps in your wake. That's about it.

Necromania possesses a weak role-playing element where you earn points after completing each level that you can use to upgrade your strength or speed. But since you only get one or two points on each level, adding these to your existing stats only improves you by a fractional amount, ultimately making the stat boosts useless.

You won't find any salvation in Necromania's presentation, either. The game can only be played in 800x600 or 1024x768 resolutions, resulting in a primitive, pixelated look for environments and characters. The levels don't offer much variety either, and the characters animate rather poorly. The game's CG cutscenes look farcical, and almost campy in execution, as though you're watching an Evil Dead flick. It's possible that the look on the cutscenes was intentional. But the game's sound effects are sparse and the speech is laughably bad. Necromania's speech literally sounds as if the placeholder voices used during development were just never removed. Necromania also includes LAN and Internet play for up to seven players, but you won't have any luck finding people online to play against. LAN play, meanwhile, is about as bad as the single-player campaign.

Overall, Necromania: Traps of Darkness comes off as a hastily slapped together mess that may have originally been intended as a Diablo clone, but was changed at the last moment to be more of a strategic puzzler. Poor design, frustrating gameplay, and downright terrible production values make Necromania a train wreck of a game that you'd do well to avoid entirely.

The Good
There's a goofy moment in the opening cutscene that is worth a laugh
That's it
No really; that's all
The Bad
Poorly designed
Clunky interface
Awful graphics
Even worse speech and sound effects
No one to play against online
3.7
Bad
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Necromania: Traps of Darkness More Info

First Release on May 06, 2005
  • PC
Necromania: Traps of Darkness is a tactical strategy game that lets you explore fantasy worlds using one of seven different characters. You must use each character's unique powers to unleash evil into the world and doom mankind.
3.1
Average User RatingOut of 181 User Ratings
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Developed by:
Cinemax
Published by:
Strategy First
Genres:
Strategy
Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
Mature
All Platforms
Blood, Language, Mature Sexual Themes, Violence