Necrosphere Deluxe came up on the auction block for the PowerUp! writers and I immediately dove on it. I love me some sidescrollin’ pixel action. Throw in some solid platforming and some catchy tunes and “baby, you got a stew goin’.”
FBI agent Terry Cooper has been shot dead by some insurgents (or something) and now finds himself lodged smack bang in the Necrosphere. An afterlife of perpetual torment and torture. Some tentative exploration reveals Agent Cooper’s former partners have a small influence in this realm of the unliving.
Although they can’t directly contact our protagonist they can haphazardly litter Hades with plot notes, hidden DVDs and equipment to give a hero a chance to return to the Normalsphere.
The Normalsphere is Earth.
Necrosphere Deluxe Review
It’s revealed quite early in the game that a soul will eternally stalk the halls of the damned lest they discover the portal to the realm of the living. The only issue is the Russians have rigged all the portals, bar one. That remaining one is heavily guarded by non-agency defence mechanisms. Thstorylinene is absurd, goofy and pretty irrelevant to my enjoyment of this game.
The gameplay is king of tinsel town in this Cold War movie.
Initially, Necrosphere is a fairly simple platformer. Move between stages, avoid fire and spikes, reach the next area and continue until you trigger a cutscene. Unlike nearly every other platformer in existence, the main character can’t jump.
Also, Necrosphere Deluxe only takes input from two buttons there are no excuses for being unable to complete levels and return to life on Earth.
Moving left and right is child’s play for this g-man, but vertical displacement is important too. Luckily the guys in the lab have littered gravity bubbles all over the ninth circle so you can launch yourself freely over all manner of slightly elevated ledges.
The game is very easy. Until suddenly it’s not.
When you reach the section that you try to collect tapes you’ll notice a massive difficulty spike. A really bloody sharp increase in deaths come when you leave the beginner zone.
This trend holds true through Necrosphere where every power-up collected grants a new degree of motion. However, this is no advantage. Once you can really move around the screen, so can the obstacles.
Fire starts to stalk you. Revenants chase you through minuscule gaps laden with Game Over screens. Necrosphere Deluxe has a deadly difficulty gradient.
Playing offers some legitimately challenging, technical platforming obstacles and the game really earned my respect by rewarding patience AND skill. You can’t just throw yourself into death over and over and over again in Necrosphere.
Well, you can and I died 1157 in my three-hour run-through but I digress. Each obstacle will take time to figure out the correct path and order of completion. Then you’ll need to practice and practice to get the muscle memory down to carry you to the finish line.
I beat this game by clipping through a floor at the end because I’m not good enough to finish legitimately.
I am cause I finished it, but it was no honourable finale.
On top of the main story mode, Necrosphere includes the bonus levels “Terry’s Dream.” I can report that they are excellent. The challenges were just as difficult as the end of the main story mode and the level design took a fresh new aesthetic.
Additionally, all your powers are removed and there is no saved progress. This is truly a bastard’s idea and I love it. You will need to collect five secret tapes to access Simple Terry’s Head Movies.
Although with no real attempt at completion I could beat the game in three hours, with the bonus levels and secret tapes play time could double. There’s also value in playing with friends who haven’t learned the puzzles yet.
After they fail for 15 minutes it’s very satisfying to slide into 1P and show the inferior breed how a guy with more experience completes a puzzle.
Necrosphere from Cat Nigiri was a welcome surprise. I expected very little and received a very lot. The simple controls and the devilish challenges made for a real satisfying romp through the land of the departed and I’ll be keeping an eye out for future works from this team.
The amount of fun I had with two button input was truly unexpected.
That being said it’s important to note this is no perfect game.
Very Good, A Few Flaws
The high level of difficulty sometimes feels cheap when poor collision detection sends Agent Cooper flying into the abyss. There’s also times when a missed jump or a wrong turn force you to run through an entire area you’ve already completed.
Backtracking is an essential part of any Metroidvania, new power-ups and abilities mean new areas can be reached in previous zones. Necrosphere isn’t a true Metroidvania and the elements included in the game fell short. Doubling back should feel like now you’re the big fish in the small pond. Getting stuck walking through the same puzzles is just an annoying waste of time.
I’m gonna finish on a high note though because I actually fucken loved this game. The music is fun and gets me hyped to push through the difficulty bubble. The visuals are vibrant and sharp, so there’s no confusion about where to land and what to avoid. Also, the colour schemes match the challenges that each area holds. Sickly green dribble land has LOTS of zombies.
Very important, they used the Houndstooth print as the background to pause menu which is a big yes from me. If you’re unfamiliar with Houndstooth it’s the rowdy black and white pattern on Ricky’s shirt in Trailer Park Boys.
Finally, the game is just deadset, simple fun. Absolutely worth picking up on the Switch, even at full price.
Necrosphere Deluxe was reviewed on Switch using a digital code provided by the publisher.
Game Title: Necrosphere Deluxe
Brightly coloured pixels and loud repetitive music - 8/10
Strange storyline that goes unreferenced for large portions of a small game - 6/10
Clever platforming that avoids the standard jump man build - 9/10
Harder than Ricky’s brain thinking - 9/10