I’m a sucker for a good sandbox game that lets me ignore all of the progression and spend hours constructing building after building instead. While giants of the survival crafting genre like Terraria and Minecraft dominate the headline, another contender has recently entered the early access market on PC.
Necesse is a top-down sandbox, action-adventure exploration game with a whole host of overwhelmingly positive Steam reviews. Akin to the massively popular solo project Stardew Valley, Necesse is a labour of love from the mind of a single man, indie developer Mads Skovgaard. While the game is still light years away from completion, it’s a great little time-sink with a huge amount of potential.
Just try not to play as many hours with my macbook’s trackpad instead of a mouse as I did. I think I might have done some damage to my wrists.
Necesse Review – Your Next Obsession
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Developer: Mads Skovgaard
Publisher: Mads Skovgaard
Players: 1-250 online multiplayer (Optimised for 5 players)
Genre: Open-World, Survival Craft, Top-Down, Action Adventure, Sandbox
Platforms: Early Access on PC (Microsoft Windows, Mac and Steam)
What to Expect From Necesse
When Necesse begins, you are dropped onto an island with only an old man for company. The tutorial teaches you the basics of how to build, craft, accept quests and mine for resources before turning you loose to make your own fun. Explore a vast procedurally generated water world to find new gear, build towns, recruit settlers, complete quests and defeat bosses; either alone or with friends.
The game is what you make it. For example, I’m role-playing as a green sea-monster alien whose only real desire is to build the great port of ‘Atlandis’. At the time of writing, my settlement has grown into a bustling harbour town that is home to around 12 villagers and 3 homeless magicians. I’ve also well and truly devastated the natural resources of 13 nearby islands and I’m halfway through exploring the dungeons of an evil Wizard’s cult. This is all before I’ve even initiated the first boss fight.
Necesse is clearly influenced by other “Make your own fun” games like Terraria, Minecraft and Stardew Valley with the town management elements of games like Rimworld or Going Medieval thrown in for good measure. If you like all these games, you’ll definitely love Necesse.
Building and Crafting
While I do wish there was some verticality so that I could build a few tall towers; the base building doesn’t feel clunky, and is instead fun to use and easy to learn. It’s easily my favourite part of the game, and a large part of the reason I picked it up at all.
For me, controlling a character myself makes it much easier to visualize my buildings during construction than in other city builders games where the villagers assemble everything for you. The crafting recipes are intuitive and logical and there’s even an entire system of wiring and traps that I haven’t even managed to delve into yet!
Though there are a lot of building and crafting options for an early access game at this stage, a lot of them are pretty minimal cosmetic changes that leave my builds looking very similar. This is to be expected though, since Necesse isn’t even finished with its development yet. The developer has confirmed he’s planning to add many more advanced elements as time goes on, so I fully expect this to improve significantly over the lifespan of this title.
The world of Necesse is an infinite procedurally generated world of islands in an endless ocean. Each island has its own ground level biome and underground cave system for you to explore. Thanks to the random nature of the maps, every biome has a unique variety of paths to take, resources to mine, items to loot and monsters to fight. At this stage of development, the game has forest, snow, swamp and desert biomes; with the creator hoping to add even more into the game in the future.
Similar to Minecraft, there are traditional underworld monsters waiting to grab you under the cover of darkness or in the subterranean caves below. There are goblins, zombies, vampires and spiders, amongst a whole bunch of other mobs trying to stop you in your tracks.
Sail around the oceans discovering inhabited settlements and lost civilisations, raiding and defeating enemies in the pirate villages and roaming the forgotten corridors of the dungeons of the Evil Wizard and his cultists.
Just like Terraria, If you want to progress the game, you’re going to need to summon and defeat the bosses. Luckily, the combat system isn’t too hard to get to grips with and the 10 boss battles are difficult but rewarding. Fighting in Necesse feels fluid with a variety of indestructible weapons to choose from; whether that’s ranged, melee, magic, explosives or, my personal favourite, summoning small creatures to fight your battles for you.
While your base health is pretty low at the outset, it can be increased by crafting sets of armour and equipping trinkets. I’d advise using your potions and food items sparingly, you’ll be much better off saving them for the boss battles or areas with large spawn volumes of monsters. If you summon the bosses near to your settlement, the villagers will try to help you fight but they don’t do a lot of damage and die easily. However, it seems Mads Skovgaard is working on the ability to equip your villagers, so expect this to change soon.
If you’re used to playing bullet hell games like Enter the Gungeon or Scathe, you’ll likely be familar with the assault on your senses caused by the sheer number of projectiles on screen at once during boss fights. I am not fond of this style of game, so I made sure to summon my partner through the online multiplayer and several very small and aggressive spiders through a summoning staff before taking on any of these battles.
Necesse has a much simpler town management system than other games like Rimworld or Going Medieval since you play one of the Island’s villagers yourself, rather than temporarily taking control. Villagers are available to recruit early in the game and once you’ve saved them from being homeless or stolen them from a rival settlement, they’ll help you with all the mundane tasks that you don’t want to do yourself like farming, hauling, hunting and fishing.
Your settlement will be self-sustaining in no time, allowing you to focus more of your time on the elements of the game that you like best. For me this involves building a very large and detailed settlement whereas my partner prefers exploring the mines to fight monsters.
Everyone’s a Developer
The latest update to the game in April made a number of quality of life changes based on feedback from the small but active community, including rebalancing the raiding mechanics and adjusting the font for readability. Mads Skovgaard has been regularly updating the game throughout its early access period based on the reactions and reviews from the playerbase, and he hopes to include more difficulty options, more advanced environments and even a fully supported modding workshop in the completed state of the game.
The Necesse community is one of the more active early access communities that I’ve personally been a part of, which is the ideal state for an independent developer’s alpha build to be in. The Steam community page is filled with people sharing their builds, their strategies and answering questions from confused new players. Players are constantly suggesting new features that are later implemented into the game, even identifying bugs and correcting the foreign translations.
Necesse Review Verdict – One to Watch
While the game might be in need of more content to give it some longevity, it’s rich enough already for you to sink many hours into. Don’t be put off if you’re not into the fast-paced, high-octane drama of bullet hell games as Necesse can be played at your own pace, with your own goals in mind. The procedurally generated islands, monsters and loot give you a reason to want to just keep on exploring for that little bit longer.
There are still so many of the game’s elements that I have yet to discover, and I can’t wait to try and figure them out. I might have to purchase a mouse first though.
Will you be picking up Necesse? Do you agree with our verdict?
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