Necrosphere Deluxe is a difficult game, sometimes to the point where all I want to do is take my Joy-Cons and throw them off my balcony. Yet I still really, really like it. I’m usually not one for retro-styled games; I like lots of pixels, not a few. So why, then, am I taking my Switch with me to work to play this damned game? Because it’s actually a very clever game, and I respect that.
The story of Necrosphere is simple: You play as agent Terry Cooper, an agent who has unfortunately met his end in the line of duty. Instead of going straight to heaven, hell, or just ceasing to exist, he is transported to limbo-like purgatory called the Necrosphere. It’s here where the game takes place and it’s your job to get Terry out and back into the real world. Of course it’s silly but the story is merely a means to put players inside a game with such bonkers obstacles.
Taking Terry back to the land of the living isn’t an easy task. Purgatory is filled with horrible stuff that just wants to kill you repeatedly. Whether they’re pointy spikes, zombies, or flaming balls of fire that move around, you’ll be killed quickly and often. Death is the norm in Necrosphere, and you should be prepared to die many, many times. Thankfully the respawn times are nothing so you’ll be jumping back in for “one more go” instantly. It’s never just one more go though, is it?
Necrosphere has a strange control scheme, one that the developer is actually quite proud of and uses it as a selling point. There are only two buttons used for the entire game. You can either use the triggers on your controller, with the left side moving Terry to the left, and the right triggers moving Terry to the right. Or you can use the face buttons on the Joy-Cons/Pro Controller to move left and right. Or, if you’re wanting a bit more control over your actions, you can simply use the left stick to move Terry around limbo land.
Initially I was put off by the way the controls handled and I was flabbergasted that there was no designated button for jumping. Turns out you don’t need a jump button and the controls are actually very good. They’re not perfect, mind you, but it became second nature for me to use the triggers for normal play before switching to the analogue stick for tricky platforming sections that required a bit more finesse.
So if there’s no jump button, how do you do the platforming? Bubbles. Gravity bubbles, to be precise. The game’s world is littered with these bubbles that you can run into to initiate a jump. A lot of the time you’ll have to string together successful jumps from one bubble to the next to overcome an obstacle or make it past a tricky section. Other times the bubbles briefly disappear after having been used. In these instances you need to have your movements planned out to perfection, otherwise you’ll be doing it all over again. It can get a bit frustrating at times as it can feel like the game is being a little unfair, but with enough attempts you’ll succeed. I did, and I’m a gremlin when it comes to platformers.
The game also has a generous checkpoint system, so even if you do fall to your death or jump head first into some spikes, you’ll not have to redo too much. That said, at times the checkpointing does get a little sparse, and this is where I was most frustrated. Still, with practice comes perfection and I managed to make my way far enough to unlock some special abilities, but with new abilities comes new problems.
Up until the point where I unlocked the air dash ability, the controls were fine. I had to teach myself to change things up as and when required, but they were fine. Then air dash gets introduced. You perform a dash by pressing twice in the direction you want to go. This isn’t that big of a deal when you’re using the triggers to move, but when you’re at a tricky part that benefits from the refined movements of an analogue stick, it gets a little annoying. It’s just not natural for me to move a stick twice in the same direction really fast, and it ended up killing me more than I can say is fair.
Then there’s the jetpack ability. It seems cool enough but again, it’s a tricky one to master. You need to tap two buttons at the same time to activate it. When you’re in the midst of some XTREME™ platforming and you’re suddenly playing mental gymnastics to get your fingers to work in unison, things can get messy.
Alas, I did succeed, but it was a hard time getting to the end. It was enjoyable though, for the most part, and if it wasn’t for the lack of a trophy system on the Nintendo Switch (why, Ninty, why!?) I’d probably go back in for more. I’ll still go back in for more eventually, but for the time being my poor little appendages are well and truly worn out by Necrosphere Deluxe – and that’s high praise from somebody who doesn’t typically play such games.
Necrosphere Deluxe Nintendo Switch Review
Necrosphere Deluxe is a blast to play. It’s difficult and sometimes a little frustrating, but there’s a lot to like about this little bugger of a game. Metroidvania fans will appreciate the exploration, while casuals will enjoy a brain-teasing platformer that’s a little different from the norm.
Devilishly clever platforming design
Very simple controls – easy to learn, difficult to master
Clean and simple presentation – a good fit for retro lovers.
A little too tricky at times
Checkpoints are sometimes a little too sparse
Controls can be a hindrance
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using Nintendo Switch docked and undocked.