While at PAX West 2017 I can safely say that I experienced everything from the ridiculous to the minimalist. Amazingingly Necrosphere encompasses both of these traits as not only is it ridiculous with its premise but also in its execution.
Necrosphere is a game that is controlled using two buttons, one to move the player character left and the other to move it, yes you got it, right. No jump, no power attack, no shield and certainly no trigger, start button, shoulder button and hopping on one leg button combos here. No, you just move left and right for Necrosphere is a very pure and distilled game.
You play Agent Terry Cooper, who finds himself in the afterlife known as the Necrosphere. He's keen to return to the land of the living, known as the Normalsphere, and he has found portals within the afterlife that may allow him to do that. He just needs to successfully overcome a series of challenges over a period of around two and a half hours and he shall return to our realm of existence.
Controlling Mr Cooper is simply a case of moving him left or right, at the same speed. The screen moves around the little 2D fellow as he avoids traps and enemies. Jumping is carried out by landing on bubbles and other floating objects that Agent Cooper can land on and rise up with. Despite (or maybe because of) the limited control system, Necrosphere is an incredibly difficult game, but it is also quite short. This somehow pushes the player along as they know they are terribly close to completing it every time they overcome an obstacle or puzzle of some sort.
The demo pod at PAX West 2017 had a custom controller that consisted of just two buttons. The developers built it as they were sick and tired of explaining to people that Necrosphere only needed two buttons to play it! I personally found it to be very refreshing to see as many games do come with very convoluted controls. To see a game distilled into this simple mechanic makes me marvel at how engaging Necrosphere actually is. Yes it's tough, but it's always the player's fault for failing, not Necrosphere's.
With the retro feel of Necrosphere the visual stylings match the sound production very well. With it being such a fast game the tempo of the score is suitably rapid and does a great job of rewarding the player with new tunes as they progress through the game.
Necrosphere is out now on Windows PC, Mac and later on this year on PS4 and Xbox One.