Game:NecroBoy: Path to Evilship
Gender: Adventure, Puzzle
System: Steam (Windows and Linux)
Developer|Editor: Wolf Chillin | Arise Co. Gravity Game
Controller support: Yes
Price: UK £15.49 | $17.99 | €17.99
Release date: October 31, 2022
Review code provided with many thanks to Press Engine.
NecroBoy: Path to Evil is a 3D puzzle game created by a single player developer. Although its appearance is mildly horrifying, you’ll likely walk away from the experience with your heart warmed and perhaps a smile on your face.
Necroboy is on a quest to plunder Necroman’s Crypt and become the greatest evil necromancer there has ever been. Between most levels, a short text-based cutscene plays showing Necroboy and his minions. It’s a story that has a lot of light humor but a lot of it misses the mark. What surprised me was the sense of heart in the story. You soon learn that even though Necroboy seeks power and sees himself as evil, there’s actually a little more to the boy than expected. Maybe he’s not as fierce as he claims.
There’s no voice acting, so put that as another title to add a silly voice to Necroboy and his minions if you want to entertain the youngsters or yourself. Stupid voices are fun.
Arise, my servants,
The game’s design allows you to explore a variety of bite-sized levels, where the goal is simply to find the double-door exit. In order to get to the exit, you’ll need to engage in a variety of simple puzzles that include toggle switches and pushing blocks. But Necroboy is unable to engage in these tasks himself for some reason. He will have to summon minions from the dead and direct them to specific tasks in order to fight his way through the crypts. This minion mechanic can unleash a pikmine atmosphere but I would say that NecroBoy doesn’t really follow the pattern of this game since the focus is only on the puzzles.
The controls are easy to learn and use. The option of a controller or keyboard is available, the former being my preference during gameplay. Stand near a pile of crumpled bones with a ghost and press a button to summon a new minion that will follow you automatically. You can then pulse to send the minions towards an object like a switch or a block and it will automatically interact with it. This pulse is able to traverse areas currently inaccessible to NecroBoy and if there is a path for minions, such as a mousehole or a gap in the door, they will be able to reach it. Some items will require more than one minion to activate, such as large push blocks and multi-armed switches.
You’ll soon learn that you can hold down a button to highlight a set number of minions to make them idle. By doing this and keeping others awake, you can solve slightly more complex puzzles, like sending minions through a door to get a switch. Then when the door closes behind them you wake up the sleeping minions to access a new switch in an area now accessible thanks to the actions of the first group. Sometimes minions got stuck in environments that were a bit of a pain, but that rarely interfered with the overall experience.
keep it cool
The challenge is quite cold much like the title from the developer (Chillin Wolf). You’re unlikely to be scratching your head or looking for a guide to solving the main puzzles in the game. The only time I got stuck was when I overthought a puzzle and got confused. sort of locked behind a door with my minions unable to reach me and so I ceased my progress with only a reboot as a solution. Fortunately, the levels are bite-sized, so it doesn’t take too long to try again.
With the nice and small levels, it’s quite a nice pick up and play experience for those with little spare time. At the end of a set number of levels you will reach a boss room which is really just an expanded puzzle experience but a good way to adjust the formula from the regular levels. I guess the only downside is that the base difficulty might be too easy for some, with some levels only requiring a few simple toggles to solve. There are 3 secret levels that offer a bit more puzzle moments, but these are optional. In general, I can see this really appealing to gamers who just want an enjoyable gaming experience. Even though the puzzles didn’t seem difficult, I still came away with a fulfilled smile, feeling like I had accomplished something.
The graphics have a horror style but the mood is light. The 3D sprites have a warm and friendly cartoon feel, even though the game takes place in dark castle-like dungeons. Necroboy himself has a detached arm and leg reminiscent of Rayman. The minions themselves feel more like cuddly adepts than beings of a sinister nature.
It certainly exudes a family presentation that probably won’t give you nightmares. What may appeal to casual gamers is that the level designs are quite simple, with switches and blocks highlighted in a very obvious red. I guess it’s a nice feature but I think I would have preferred these items to match the dungeon designs. When playing on PC, performance was good, but I had times when Necroboy’s movement was a bit blurry, which is weird to see on PC. Still, it has a nice Halloween-themed soundtrack that’s upbeat but matches the dark setting.
Content wise, you have your basic story mode with multiple levels that may take no more than 6 hours to beat. But it can increase with the 3 challenging hidden levels. In addition to the main game, you can unlock new cosmetics for your minions. There’s even a Halloween-themed costume for Necroboy if you click on a pumpkin in the options menu. That’s not a lot of content for the price offered. So a sale may be a consideration for some. The game is playable on Steam Deck but I can’t rate this experience since I only played it on PC.
Conclusion – A Happy Horror Gem
NecroBoy: Path to Evil falls into the category of a little gem for the puzzle experience. A generally simple but satisfying experience with a story that has a lot of heart. For a solo developer, they’ve done a pretty decent job of creating a welcoming experience that will appeal to players of all ages.
It doesn’t stray from its puzzle formula, not really taking any risks with its gameplay. But it is an original concept. This can be a good game to play with youngsters or if you just want a good weekend game that isn’t too taxing. Definitely add it to the wishlist to support a budding indie developer. Hopefully this won’t be the last we see of NecroBoy and his puzzle escapades.
Final verdict: I loved it