PC REVIEW: NECROMANIA: TRAPS OF DARKNESS

I know people that would really like this game, the trouble is they are also impressed by Snakes and Ladders.

Necromania: Traps of Darkness is really only a two-trick pony. You can either set traps for your enemies to fall into or fight them by button mashing if you have enough experience points. The gameplay concept has the potential to be a lot of fun but somewhere it got lost in the mix or buried by terrible production values and a confused style of gameplay that should have been an action RPG instead of a strategy RPG. The similarities to Diablo are blatantly obvious and that's what may have been the catalyst to make this a strategy-based RPG in an effort to distance itself from Diablo. Trust me, this only similarities this game has with Diablo is that it's considered a game - although I would beg to differ.

Story-wise the game piques my interest. An evil overlord has been captured and it's up to you to save him with a party of seven servants. Each servant represents a different class such as the requisite knight, warrior, wizard and orc. With different powers and abilities these servants will compete against other AI characters to collect a series of keys during the dungeon crawls. The first party to find all of the keys will unlock all of the doors and ultimately complete the level.

You really have to search for these keys and that begins to drag as you check ever nook, cranny and crate. You're never sure if all of the keys have been found or how many the enemy may have. You can try to kill the enemy by setting traps or just mashing the button until they succumb to your barbaric might in an attempt to steal their keys. Only when you reach the end of the level, or you see the enemy sneak out of the dungeon, will you find out if all the keys have been located. I can't tell you what a nightmare it is to have to go back and look for those last few keys.

While you're exploring the dungeons for keys you will encounter various hazards and traps. There are bottomless pits, flames of death, swirling blades, lava and spikes to avoid or befriend. You have the option of setting up some traps of your own to catch the enemy but after the novelty wares off it's easier to just enter into combat although it's dreadfully boring after a while. You'll find power-ups scattered throughout the levels and they are more effective than the lame level-up system that only rewards you a couple of points for completing a level. These points make such little difference in your abilities it's a wonder they are even included. Near the end of the 20-some levels you will finally begin to notice some improvement with your skills.

Environments range from forests to caverns and suffer from low-res blocky textures and tons of ziggy zaggies. The animation is unnatural and unnerving to behold. Characters lurch with such unexpected unpleasantness that you can't help but wonder if they're all a bunch or reanimated corpses. Sure it looks good for the skeleton warrior but not on the fog babe. The voiceovers are tragic. They fall under the "so good it's bad" classification but they're not bad enough to warrant playing through this entire game for. Sound effects are sparse and the music sounds as though the composer was struggling for ideas and just threw a bunch of melodies together with some moody chords to glue the whole sonic mess together.

It's doubtful you'll find six other online players but you can set a trap and invite six of your friends to play via LAN. It will be the last you ever see of them. Make sure you take their keys.

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System: PC
Dev: Cinemax
Pub: Strategy First
Release: July 2005
Players: 1 - 7
Review by Fenix
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
2.0
GRAPHICS
2.0
CONTROL
3.0
MUSIC/FX
3.0
VALUE
1.0