[Minor spoilers about end game gameplay].
I had been in the Crypt for almost 20 hours before I first encountered the Necrodancer.
I'd like to talk of that experience:
The identity of the Dead Ringer revealed, I felt a pang of confusion, only to hear him guide me, and then to realize I had to juggle two heroes terrified me. How many runs had I failed this far? And another boss after what already seemed like an impossible ordeal.
It only took me a few moments to realize the new mechanic I had to juggle in the last fight, and it was an amazing surprise which immediately filled the dancer floor with new energy.
I spent the first minute of the encounter with the Necrodancer keeping my heroes side by side, getting used to the beat. The easy beginning really affords those fighting Necrodancer for the first time the time they need to get ready.
And then, one by one I begin aligning my heroes, triggering bombs to the stage--not too difficult.
When the Necrodancer took to the dance floor, indeed was my heart beating at the 120bpm step, in sync with the Necrodancer himself. I begrudgingly set aside my Obsidian Crossbow and equipped the Golden Lute, determined to do this right. At first, I ran from his reanimated fiends and explosive spells, trying to realign myself and regroup with my ally, but as soon as I understood his rhythm I slided in for a hit. The Necrodancer skips away only losing a single heart from my note, summoning more monsters between us.
Black Knights began to flank me on all sides and it's a challenge to keep them off with my ally's Flail. At one point I realize the Golden Lute can only sing its music if Cadence has a empty tile to move to, so being surrounded by shield bearing skeletons on two sides and a wall and ally covering the other two, I struggle to make any movements at all, all while rapidly losing health. For an instant I fear the worst, but in the next beat does my ally bash his Flail fowards, knocking back one skeleton--I immediately pounce on the next beat, allowing my Lute to sound the minions to dust.
The fight continues with me piercing again and again with my Lute, bringing the Necrodancer to a third of his health, while monsters continue to scratch my ally and I. In the fight I've lost four of my nine hearts, leaving both my ally and I at one and a half hearts left, and as I continue to hit the Necrodancer do increasingly powerful monsters seem to appear.
Eventually, there are too many skeletons in erratic formations I can't easily line up to attack, their pursuit herding me to one side of the dance floor where an Ogre has just joined. I've died many times to Ogres in the fourth zone, but I know the brute, slow, can be defeated if I merely kite around it. However, I worry that in the process, the new ally by my side would then get smashed in the ensuing blow. I move in, hitting him again and again as I circle to his back.
It was at that time, checking the hearts of my ally and I, going over the directional combinations to use bombs, switching to my holstered weapon or beating my war drum, as well as predicting the path of the many dancers of the Necrodancer did I make my fatal error. My attention split, I panic and move one tile away from the Ogre, immediately attracting his singularly directed club.
My obsidian armor, then powered down and thin as paper from the onslaught of reanimations is cleaved in two, Cadence immediately perishing under the mighty blow.
I will now begin talking about my opinion of the game:
I spent 20 hours trying to get farther and farther than before.
Being able to dance with the Necrodancer was an incredible experience, despite dying, my body is still flowing with music high. Please try this game. There are very smart design choices evident throughout every aspect. The music, the level design, the enemies and items all progress so well. Timing each act to the length of a song, having enemies which all have simple but broad ranges of dance moves to overcome make them easy to approach but brilliantly challenging in hoards. You feel extremely rewarded for your experienced-earned dexterity the roguelike demands--the game is a fantastic challenge that's never too easy.
A great example is in certain circumstances (secret vendors and trapdoors) do you find yourself in an incredibly confined space with two minibossess and two small minions. The first time you see this your fear and greenness lead to your immediate demise, but after enough of dancing do you begin to, not only feel comfortable with these, but even actively seek them out for the item and gold reward from defeating them.
Once you can beat bosses, your greed begins to demand you defeat them without a single misstep, for the glorious Flawless Victory that rewards your ego as well as giving you an additional chest to bolster your hero. I thought being an indie game this would be a quick fun change of pace but it's so much more. I've only played twenty hours but I don't intend to stop any time soon. It's a game I would recommend to any friend who comes over, it's a game I would play when I have a short break or if I have a few hours. Sometimes it can be tough if you keep dying but the rewards essentially beg you to succeed. I keep coming back for more Crypt of the Necrodancer!