You Died But a Necromancer Revived You

You Died but a Necromancer revived you (the b in “but”, the r in “revived” and the y in “you” aren’t capitalized for no god damned reason) is proof that I’ll buy ANYTHING as long as the name is silly enough. I’m not even joking when I say the first time I ever bought a DVD for myself, my dad gave me $20 and I ended up picking out Killer Klowns from Outer Space. I had just turned 12 years-old and money didn’t just burn a hole in my pocket, but pretty much napalmed it. I saw Klowns. I saw they were killer. I saw they were from not just space, but outer space. I had to have it. Of course, we bought it at Suncoast at the Oakridge Mall in San Jose, which sold VHS tapes for $100 each (I’m not even kidding) and DVDs cost a multiple of what they cost anywhere else. (I’m sure you’ll be shocked to hear this, but they’ve since shut down. Who knew $100 for a VHS copy of Saving Private Ryan wouldn’t fly?) I’m guessing that $20 barely paid for the price tag, but Daddy covered the rest, bitching the entire time that I had terrible taste and probably wouldn’t even watch it. He was right. When we got home, I remembered I was scared of clowns and aliens, so the disc went unused for years.

But, come on, Killer Klowns! From Outer Space! What a name!

Seriously, no joke, it’s a lot of fun. Not really that scary, either. I only pissed myself twice.

That was in 2001. Here we are in 2019, and I still can’t resist an absurd name. Hell, my dream project is “Zombie Tyrannosaurus That Eats People and Shits Zombies.” We can change “shit” to “poop” if it becomes a made for SyFy film. Just start making it, whoever. Script? What script? Look at the name! That is the script! What’s Billy Zane doing these days?

The best part of You Died But a Necromancer Revived You (I’m not playing along with the lowercase stuff) is the name. Because, when you get down to it, the actual gameplay is very basic. You’re placed in a top-down 2D, retroy room. You have to make your way to the ladder in the center of it. There are tons of traps to kill you. If you die, you start over from whatever checkpoint you last reached (checkpoints are determined by the game’s difficulty). The primary challenge comes from the speed required to clear each stage. After a few seconds, the floor begins to cave-in behind you. Personally, I’d preferred to be chased by a giant boulder Indiana Jones style, but beggars can’t be choosers.

Interesting creative decision to not go wide-screen and instead have a bezel like an arcade machine. Also, while I have your attention: set the control stick’s deadzone in the options to 90%. I had a whole paragraph of control complaints I had to delete when I discovered the option. It was a sick paragraph too. It had a dynamite Tim Duncan joke I had to shitcan.

You Died is perfectly fine as a quickie time waster. And I do mean quick. My first successful play-through took 22 minutes to clear all the rooms and the boss. If you want to challenge yourself to play on difficulties that spread the checkpoints apart and add more stuff to avoid, you’ll certainly need a little more patience and time to invest. I tried it for an hour, cussed a blue streak, but still beat it on normal. This is actually one of the few games where randomly-generated stages work pretty well, switching up the order and placement of the traps and obstacles to assure you won’t be memorizing layouts. There’s not a whole lot of “gotcha” style deaths, though it does happen. In one stage, you reach the ladder only for the ladder to come alive and chase you towards the real exit. I can’t imagine anyone surviving that on their first encounter with it, but otherwise the cheapness is kept to a minimum.

The real issue is how little meat is on You Died’s bones. There’s a huge variety of characters, but I’m pretty sure they’re just skins without different attributes. Maybe. I swear, the character that looks like the ghost of Sweetie seems to move looser (even after I adjusted the controls), but I can’t be certain on that. But once you clear out the game’s 20 rooms and the boss, that’s really all there is. There’s not a big enough variety of traps, and once you have them clocked, you have them clocked no matter what order they’re placed in. Before typing this paragraph, I was on-board with the random level layouts, but I just realized having them probably limited the variety of obstacles that could be used since the game required them to work no matter what order the RNG spits them out. Maybe there needed to be an endless mode (which there is) alongside a hand-crafted tower with more elegantly, elaborately designed puzzles and traps. It certainly would have added to the value. And this is one of those rare times where the value is probably the biggest problem. But I’m getting ahead of myself..

There’s multiplayer modes, one of which is a co-op sort of deal where you all play together and if one person finishes the room, everyone does. The other is a versus mode where you race to the ladder. It sounds great in theory. In practice, You Died is one of those games where the owner of the copy will inevitably be unbeatable against friends and family since they’ll be familiar with all the ways you die. I won a match 8 to 2, with the two losses coming because the Joycon sucks as a stand-alone controller but I was too lazy to get off my ass and hook up my pro controllers. That’s not a joke, either. In my review of Not Not, the Joycons killed both myself and my Mother more than our own mistakes did. I have extremely tiny hands and even with them the Joycon turned on its side like an NES controller doesn’t work at all. That configuration might be the worst controller in gaming history. And I owned an Ouya. I wasn’t able to play the game with a room full of experienced players, and I couldn’t convince anyone to put the twenty minutes of time needed to GiT GuD needed into Necromancer. That’s more on my family than it is the game. Not holding that against it. It’d be like shaming a cat for shedding on your bed to the point that you have to change your sheets every night. It’s can’t help it. And my family can’t help indifference to retro multiplayer games.

This is the one and only boss in the game. It’s a fun fight with a clever mechanic to inflict damage on the Necromancer. But actually, it’s so good and so fun and so clever that it just left me wanting a lot more.

So, let’s talk value. You Died but a Necromancer Revived You is one of the few games that highlights the biggest flaw in my review system. My rule is that if I like a game 50.1% but dislike it 49.9%, it wins my seal of approval. Nothing else matters. Well, I like You Died a lot more than 50.1%. It’s short, but it’s fun while it lasts. It’s Slam dunk for my seal of approval. But the problem is, I approve of it but I can’t really recommend it either. At least at full price. Necromancer is so light in gameplay and content that I can’t in good conscience tell anyone to buy it for $8.99. It’s far too over-priced. Hell, it’s over-priced at $7.64, which is what I got it for. And no, I’m not advocating a “race to the bottom”, a term that gets abused more than Orange County breathalyzers. But there’s just too many games that offer more for less. Not that it’ll never go on sale. Switch is magnificent for indies going el-cheapo and tickling the impulse-buy sector of your brains. But, when You Died hits that $4.99 range that it should have been all along, it’ll still be competing head-to-head with beefier titles at cut-rate prices. You’re not racing to the bottom, fellas. Keeping it real: you’re a no-name indie game by a no-name developer. You are at the bottom. The race is to get attention and get people playing your games so you can make fans. A name like “You Died but a Necromancer Revived You” will get that attention. A price like $8.99 won’t get you players.

But seriously, it’s fun.

You Died But a Necromancer Revived You was developed by BolHut
Point of Sale: Nintendo Switch, Steam

$7.64 (normally $8.99) blue screened but a technomancer revived me in the making of this review.

You Died But a Necromancer Revived You is Chick-Approved and ranked on the Indie Chick Leaderboard.

 

About Indie Gamer Chick
Indie game reviews and editorials.

One Response to You Died But a Necromancer Revived You

  1. Matt says:

    A movie called “Killer Klowns from Outer Space” cannot go wrong as far as I am concerned. The same goes for a game titled “You Died but a Necromancer Revived You”, so I am not surprised it is fun despite being short on content.

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