Necromancers are usually villains in fantasy, and it makes a kind of sense. Dead things are creepy, and most people don’t like the idea of some weirdo digging around their local graveyard. However, it’s also nice to be on the other side of the shambling horde occasionally, and that’s where the strategy game Necrosmith comes in.
Indi studio Alawar Premium originally released the game in July 2022, with STAR Game Studio publishing the Android port. Players take the role of a traveling necromancer accompanied by his giant talking cat. Hounded by his enemies, the necromancer stumbles across an abandoned tower in an uncharted wasteland. Necrosmith players must rebuild the tower, assemble their undead army, and explore the wilderness.
When I say Necrosmith has you assembling an army, I mean it literally. Players build their undead from assorted body parts. You’ll get a few every in-game day, though you’ll find most of them in graves scattered around the environment. Each undead needs a head, body, arms, and legs. They come in various types, starting with simple skeletons and zombies, then moving on to orcs, harpies, vampires, dragons, and more. Each has different stats, and Necrosmith players can mix and match however they like.
Parts also come with weapons and other equipment, determining how they function in battle. Creatures that can hold weapons might have arms carrying swords, shields, crossbows, throwing axes, magic wands, and elemental tomes. Each also has an armored and unarmored variant. Heads and bodies might have armor or magical hats and cloaks, while legs with boots run faster than those without.
Unfortunately, while I liked assembling my walking corpses, I was less impressed with how it feels to use them. The game’s top-down perspective, tiny units, and fog of war might give you the mistaken impression that Necrosmith is an RTS. However, that’s only half true, as your ability to control your minions is very limited.
The undead will wander out from the player’s keep or one of the discoverable portals. They will gather resources, fight enemies, and explore the map independently. Players can select a unit and tell it to stop or directly take control and steer it with a virtual joystick.
I really do not care for this system. I would have much preferred it just let me click a unit and click a spot on the map like in other strategy games. The fact that you can’t order them to target specific enemies or groups of enemies also feels artificially limiting. Granted, that might not have worked either since the units are so tiny.
There is a bit more to the game, though that’s basically it as far as the core gameplay goes. You build increasingly powerful monsters, searching for the magic keys you need to escape. It’s a pretty simple game, though that’s not necessarily a problem, and there is some clever writing here and there.
However, the mobile interface is just kind of clumsy. Even the parts I liked, corpse-building, felt clunky and awkward to use. Ultimately, I came away disappointed. I didn’t hate Necrosmith, but the Android port just didn’t grab me the way the PC version seems to have grabbed people.
Is It Hardcore?
For the Right Player
Necrosmith is a neat little game with an intriguing central mechanic, but playing it means putting up with the Android port’s awkward interface.