Never Mourn (Early Access)

Good necromancy games are difficult to get right. Many times you have experiences that claim they are ‘Necromancy’ games but just end up being a standard beat-em-up or spell-slinging game and you can have a skeleton that distracts enemies sometimes. Others you can experience are very complex and well made in their minion mechanics but the actual gameplay can end up becoming boring or job-like. ‘Never Mourn’ is a new indie game created by developers ‘Primal Seed’ that aims to bring a more action-orientated necromancy game while also having a focus on your undead henchmen. Does it succeed in this? Time to raise this corpse and see.

The story of this game doesn’t exist yet, and at this current stage I am unsure if one will be created. I’ve followed the development on this game for a while and so I know that at one point the game would be focusing on the main character who became a necromancer after she lost her child and is trying to find a way to bring them back from the dead. It’s an interesting hook that gives a more sympathetic look into those who may practice the dark arts but because there isn’t anything to it in the game currently I can’t give it any points for that. Maybe in the future a full story campaign will be added, but at the moment just consider this a gameplay-focused experience.

Here is your protagonist! I like their mask

Presentation-wise this game is rather odd. The visuals remind me a lot of MMO games, and especially that of Guild Wars 2 with its blend of cartooney graphics with a slightly realistic tone to it. It certainly doesn’t look bad, and in fact some of the environment design you can see in the background of combat encounters looks absolutely gorgeous, but what most baffles me is that the world has clearly been laid out and lovingly designed, yet you can’t access it. You have to stick to the arenas, you have to focus on the combat, and following each combat encounter you linearly have to follow lines to the next place. It makes all this nice visual design seem a bit pointless and while it might actually be planned for usage in a future story campaign it all just seems a bit like wasted potential. Audio-wise the game is fine, music that tends to sink into the background, monster noises that don’t stand out and everything just seems to scream the word ‘fine’. Overall then while it isn’t something to write home about I think once the game really develops forward it could be a fantastic looking experience.

Now for the thing this game does really well, the gameplay. As can be expected from a Necromancy-focused gamed the goal is to kill monsters, raise minions and use those minions to kill more monsters. At the moment it works like a room-based endless wave rogue-like as you move from combat encounter to combat encounter getting upgrades to your minions and spells, giving you new abilities and getting currency to upgrade or heal yourself. While the game mode itself works fine the combat mechanics absolutely shine. I feel as though this is one of the best action-necromancy focused combat systems in a game I have ever played. It all feels very smooth, the mix of melee combat and raising the dead if swift and flows well, the spells are all impactful and interesting and the minions are varied in their purposes. The game also has an upgrade tree that you go through inbetween runs to make yourself stronger and, as a way to just stop yourself from endlessly healing, it has a ‘wounds’ system between combat encounters that takes away portions of your max health when you get hit in combat and that you have to heal with currency you earn in each run. It’s a great system that actively encourages you to take on more of a ‘commander’ role just like a necromancer should and gives more tension between fights are you wonder when the next chance to heal off your wounds will be. While I do wish there was a better way to actually control your minions, such as instructing them on who to attack and where to move, I enjoyed this system greatly and really hope it develops further.

Just some of those really pretty environments

That is the biggest crux for this review however, that this works best as a system and not a full game. As it currently stands this feels like a singular side gamemode that is present in a title with a full single player story campaign, perhaps even one that could have co-op potential. I ended up getting to the end of the mode within a day and past that the only thing to do then it just to level up further and get more spells or minion slots. If this game had decided to focus on story and make the combat system something that had actual context, including things like boss battles and such, this could have been absolutely fantastic. As it currently stands however it just feels like a strange mmo-lite experience with palette swap enemies, experience-focused progression and a wave-based mode that gets dry after the first few runs. I’d reiterate, I love the combat and everything about how it’s designed, I just wish it had a more solid foundation around the core combat to make the experience more interesting.

So that’s that. Again, this is all subject to change due to this being in Early Access and who knows all of the things I wasn’t a fan of may end up being completely fixed by the time it fully releases. As it stands now, this game is an excellent foundation to something that could become truly special, it just needs the context and purpose to have that foundation put into. I’ll be keeping an eye on this for sure, and you can bet I will be hopping back into it if any story content is released. For now however, if you want to get early into a great combat experience then be sure to check this out. Otherwise, maybe give this some more time in the oven. Or maybe even… a longer time to resurrect! Eh? Ehhh??? I’ll be going now…

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