Crypt of the NecroDancer follows Cadence through the deepest levels of the crypt. At the outset, Cadence has her heart stolen by the NecroDancer and must battle the hordes of monsters under his control in order to retrieve it.
The player must time their movements and attacks to the beat of the game's soundtrack. The game makes use of only four keys to control the character (for up, down, left and right). Combinations of movement keys are used for the player's inventory of usable items and spells. A dance pad may be used as well, with a specific game mode tailored to train with it. The more the player moves perfectly to the beat without taking damage, the higher the score multiplier will be.
Crypt of the NecroDancer features several game modes:
Playing the game one zone at a time. When a zone is beaten, the player is returned to the lobby with the next one is unlocked. Players can earn diamonds in this mode, which can be used to unlock items, upgrades, and manipulate which items appear in the next normal mode run.
A second player can play alongside the first in this mode. Every player gets their own inventory, but gold is shared. Everyone moves to the same beat.
All Zones Mode
Also known as Hardcore Mode. Every item is unlocked, and every character always starts with a specific number of hearts and equipment. Everyone starts from the Zone 1 Level 1, and progresses through all zones through the final boss. A speedrun timer and a low-percent run indicator is also available in this mode (low percent means not picking up any items in the game.) A seeded run option to have a consistent dungeon layout is also available.
Daily Challenge Mode
Similar to the All Zones Mode, but everyone gets the same seed for the day and only one chance to get on the leaderboards.
Play through all zones with Cadence, Melody, and Aria one after the other.
All Characters Mode
Play through the game with all characters (except Coda) in succession. Unlocked after unlocking all characters except Coda.
All Zones Mode, but loops around at the end. This mode only ends when the player is defeated.
Dance Pad Mode
Designed for players to practice using dance pads with. Easier than the usual, as everything is unlocked, less enemies are spawned, and the player starts with better equipment.
Create your own levels and share them with others. Unlocked after beating Zone 4.
Puzzle rooms created with the intent of teaching players some advanced strategies. The Bard character is always selected in the Codex rooms.
- Dragon Lore: teaches players how to avoid a Red Dragon's fireballs and defeat it with the Red Dragon Dance
- Trap Lore: teaches players strategies for navigating traps.
- Bomb Lore: teaches players strategies for using bombs.
- How To Get Away With Murder: teaches players strategies for defeating shopkeepers.
The original soundtrack is composed and produced by Danny Baranowsky. An EDM remix soundtrack by A_Rival and a metal remix soundtrack by FamilyJules7x replaces the original soundtrack when playing as Melody and Aria, respectively. Any of the three soundtrack mixes can also be selected for any character in the options menu. A custom music soundtrack can also be set to any levels (including bosses) at any time.
There are multiple playable characters, each changes the way the player interacts with the game, what items may be accessible, and the starting gear for All Zones mode.
|Character||General Information||Items||All Zones mode|
|Cadence||The main hero. Responds to the beat normally||All Items||Three hearts, Dagger|
|Choral||The other player character in co-op mode. Identical to Cadence in every way except for her appearance.||All Items||Three hearts, Dagger|
|Melody||Cadence's mother. Can only use the Golden Lute as a weapon; picking any other weapon instantly kills her. Has the A_Rival EDM remix soundtrack selected by default. Unlocked by beating Zone 4 with Cadence.||Limited||Two hearts, Golden Lute|
|Aria||Cadence's grandmother. She can only use the dagger for a weapon and cannot gain additional hearts. Missing a beat with Aria instantly kills her. Progresses through zones in reverse. Has the FamilyJules7x Metal remix soundtrack selected by default. Unlocked after beating Zone 4 with Melody.|
|Bolt||The player must respond to the beat in double time (everything moves twice as fast including the monsters). Bolt is unlocked after beating All Zones mode with Monk||All Items||2 hearts, Spear|
|Bard||The Bard is unaffected by the Necrodancer's magic, so he can move at any beat he pleases. All monsters move according to his beat.||All Items||2 hearts, Dagger|
|Monk||The Monk is killed upon touching gold in a level. They get one free item out of three from the shopkeeper in each shop (excluding the heart shop). Unlocked by beating Zone 3.||Limited|
2 hearts, Nazar Charm, Blood Shovel, Dagger
|Dove||A pacifist. Cannot pick up weapons and can only confuse enemies with her flower. Her bombs teleport enemies instead of killing them. Shopkeepers give one of two items for free (excluding heart shops). Stairs are immediately unlocked without having to defeat the miniboss. When the song ends before she reaches the stairs, Dove instantly dies. Unlocked by beating Zone 2.||No weapons|
2 hearts (3 with the ring), Ring of Peace, crystal shovel, flower
|Eli||Cadence's uncle. Has a shovel for a hand. Cannot wield weapons, but has infinite bombs and the ability to kick away bombs. Unlocked by beating Zone 1||Limited|
Infinite bombs, Nazar charm
|Dorian||Cadence's father. Carries a lot of adventuring equipment. Takes damage when moving without the Boots of Leaping active. Unlocked by defeating the Dead Ringer boss as Cadence.||All Items|
4 hearts, Dagger, Pickaxe, Boots of Leaping, Ring of Might, Platemail, Compass
|Coda||A deadly combination of Aria, Bolt, and Monk. Unlocked by completing All Characters Mode.||Limited|
Dagger, Nazar Charm
The game has four zones that the hero must fight through in order to claim victory over the NecroDancer. Each zone contains three levels and a boss fight. Every level is procedurally generated. Every proceeding level in a given zone has a faster tempo than the last, but the first level's tempo is not faster than the previous zone's last level. The boss fight for every zone (except the last) is randomly picked.
When the song for a level ends without the player reaching the stairs to the next level, a trap door will appear and send them immediately to the next level. This trap door behaves similarly to the stairs, specifically in that it does not lock you in a room filled with monsters like normal trap doors do. The stairs for each level are locked until the player defeats the mini-boss for the level.
|1||Cave||The beginner zone. Consists of small rooms connected by narrow passageway. Has water tiles, which takes one extra step to cover up with dirt before getting out.||Slimes, bats, ghosts, skeletons|
|2||Jungle||Has bigger passageways and less doors than the first zone. Has tar tiles, which always takes two steps to get out of.||Armadillos, golems, mushrooms, armored skeleton and skeleton mages|
|3||Fire & Ice||Every level is separated into a fire section and an ice section. Consists of big, open rooms and cauldrons that spill hot coals or ice. Hot coal tiles damages the player when they don't move for one beat, and ice tiles causes the player to slide (attempting to move while sliding counts as a miss.)||Elementals, hellhounds, goblins, Yetis, skeleton knights|
|4||Dungeon||Consists of rectangular rooms separated by walls. Digging a wall tile will dig wall tiles adjacent to it. Has green ooze tiles, which turns the player small and cannot attack enemies when they are on it.||Blademasters, liches, warlocks, harpies, spiders|
Minibosses are spawned at the end of every level. They have to be defeated before the player can access the stairs to the next level. Most minibosses have different types of varying difficulty, which appear in different levels of the zone.
The most iconic of fantasy creatures. Dragons move every other beat, pursuing and digging their way to the player. There are three types of dragons: green, red, and blue. Green Dragons only have melee attacks. Red Dragons charge a fireball when the player is directly on a horizontal line, and fire it on the next beat. Blue Dragons have a conic ice breath instead of a fireball, which freezes the players for 4 beats.
Red Dragons may prove tricky to defeat for beginners, as they spawn from 1-2 onwards. There is a well-known strategy to defeat Red Dragons, colloquially known as the Red Dragon Dance. To do the Red Dragon Dance, get in a position where the player is directly in front of a Red Dragon before it charges a fireball. The player can then attack the dragon, step to a side to dodge its fireball, step right next to the dragon (above or under), and step back. The player will be in the start position of the dance, but one tile over. Repeat until the dragon is defeated. When done perfectly, the dragon can be defeated within a 2x2 square.
Minotaurs move on every beat, trying to pursue the player. When spotting a player in a cardinal direction, they will start charging in a straight line in that direction. When it hits a wall or an obstacle (e.g. the player), it will be stunned for two beats. Gray minotaurs have more health than the normal ones.
Direbats move on every other beat in a random cardinal direction. Grey direbats have more health than the yellow ones.
Banshees move on every beat towards the player, and can move diagonally. They will deafen the player of the soundtrack and get knocked back when hit. The deaf effect is nullified when they are defeated. The player has to be careful not to move right towards the Banshee after hitting, because they can still attack the player. Green banshees have more health than the blue ones. Starts appearing from Zone 2.
Nightmares move on every other beat towards the player, darkening the area surrounding it. Red nightmares have more health than black Nightmares. Starts appearing from Zone 2.
Moves every four beats towards the player. It carries a large club that can reach three tiles. When the player is in range, it will raise its club to attack as its next move. The powerful club attack also damages other monsters and containers. Appears in Zone 4.
A dancing mummy mommy. Moves every four beats towards the player. Sometimes summons a breakdancing baby mummy instead of moving. The baby mummy moves towards the player every other beat. Appears in Zone 4.
There is a random boss encounter at the end of every zone. Each boss functions in a different way, each having its own game mechanic associated to it. Each boss also has a legion of other enemies alongside that may stand in the player's way. Once the boss is defeated, all other enemies disappear. When the player defeats a boss without missing, there is a flawless victory bonus where the player can choose to open one of three chests.
Each boss functions slightly differently and may have different minions in different zones. The deeper the zone is, the more health they will also have.
The king of the undead conga line, he sits atop his throne in amusement. King Conga cannot normally be hit on his throne and will only fight the player once his conga lines of zombies is defeated. King Conga moves on every beat and can also move diagonally. He also has the ability to teleport away to a random space upon taking damage.
King Conga will also get off the throne to attack the player when the player misses a beat even when the conga lines have not been defeated, but he will teleport back to his throne without getting damaged when the player attacks him. Every eighth beat in the song is skipped in this level, so the player must not move every seven beats or it will count as a miss.
There are two conga lines of zombies that follows the yellow leader zombie. If a zombie is separated from the conga line, they will turn red in rage. The red zombies move on every beat, while the other zombies move on every other beat.
A reaper of death that holds a scythe, a shield, and dances to a fast-paced metal song. Death Metal will chase after the player every three beats. He holds his shield in front of him, and it blocks non-phasing damage. Every time Death Metal blocks, bats will be summoned. Attacking him from other sides will eventually make him drop his shield.
After dropping his shield, he will occasionally shout a phrase that telegraphs his move. The move depends on how much health he has left. At high health ("Come to me!"), he will summon more minions after 4 beats. At lower health ("End of the line!"), he will summon stronger minions instead. At critical health ("Bathe in fire!"), he will instead shoot fireballs. He will also move on every beat at this last phase.
A king with an entire army of chess pieces. Every piece behaves similarly to their corresponding chess piece at a consistent beat pattern, telegraphing one beat before moving. Like in chess, the pawns will also turn into queens when reaching the other end of the stage.
The king has more health than the other pieces and will run away from the player, castling with a rook at first chance. When attacked, the king will teleport away. The king will only move to attack the player once all other chess pieces are defeated.
An electric guitar-shaped octopus who wields numerous musical instruments with every one of its tentacles. Half of the stage is filled with water, and every tile any of its body parts moves into will also turn into water tiles. Its tentacles will first attack the player two or four at a time. They will first submerge, and then reemerge around the player. They will teleport back when hit, or when the player does not attack them. The corresponding instrument will stop playing the background music when they are submerged or defeated.
When all eight tentacles have attacked twice or defeated, the remaining tentacles and the main body will all move slowly towards the player. Defeated tentacles will appear on the surrounding walls to continue playing the background music. The main body moves every two beats, splashing water to all surrounding tiles, turning them into water tiles and possibly damaging the player.
Only Cadence will encounter this boss at the end of Zone 4. Dead Ringer is completely invincible to non-phasing damage. Four bells are initially placed on the stage, and Dead Ringer will try to hit them with his big hammer. The bells will summon a miniboss when hit by either Dead Ringer or the player. From the top-left corner clockwise, they respectively spawn a green dragon, an ogre, a Nightmare, and a Minotaur. Dead Ringer may spot the player in a cardinal direction and charge at the player like a Minotaur. If Dead Ringer crashes into a bell, the bell gets destroyed without summoning a miniboss.
When all four bells have been rung or destroyed, Dead Ringer will begin to glow. He moves faster and charges straight to the other end of the line in one beat in this state. To defeat him, he must charge straight onto the large gong that appears at the top end of the room. Once he rings the gong with his charge, the fight instantly ends.
After defeating Dead Ringer, Cadence meets Dorian and they both get transported into the Necrodancer's lair. The player controls both Cadence and Dorian in this level, with both characters moving to the same key presses at the same time. The Necrodancer and his minions are up on a stage, holding the Golden Lute hostage with evil magic. They are unreachable while atop the stage.
Trap tiles are spawned on the level two at a time, and the player must control both Cadence and Dorian to stand on both tiles at the same time. The walls and stage can be used to offset their positions and match the placements of the tiles. For every traps that get activated, the Necrodancer's stage gets bombed, progressively releasing his minions until the Golden Lute and the Necrodancer himself are blown off the stage. Cadence must then defeat the Necrodancer using the Golden Lute (with Dorian still controlled at the same time). The Golden Lute damages the Necrodancer and his minions surrounding Cadence as she moves around.
After defeating the Necrodancer as Cadence, the player has to fight him for the last time as Melody. The walls keep shrinking as the song gets closer to the end, crushing Melody at the very end. The song also slowly increases its tempo as it progresses.
The Necrodancer will initially try to avoid Melody, depending on his numerous minions and the ever-shrinking wall to defeat you. At his last heart, he will gain an impenetrable shield and summon many skeletons behind him. The top part of the level will also be transformed into lava. Melody must defeat the skeletons and push the Necrodancer into the lava to win the fight.
All shops sell items 3 at a time and accept a variety of currencies including gold, diamonds, and health. Gold is used as the score for the runs and is reset every run. Gold is dropped by monsters, and in some dungeon walls in All Zones Mode (visible by a shining glint). Diamonds are only found in non-All Zones modes on the dungeon floors and walls (replacing hidden gold). They must be spent in the lobby immediately after the run they are found for upgrades and item/spell unlocks.
Many dungeon shops have golden walls, which can be destroyed by bomb or blood shovel to yield 10 gold coins per tile.
Most shopkeepers can also be murdered for an item drop and getting all the shop items for free. Keep in mind, however, that most shopkeepers are also very difficult to defeat. The final codex level ("How To Get Away With Murder") illustrates some strategies that could be used to defeat shopkeepers.
All shops other than the coin shop are only accessible through runes. They are hidden under wall tiles and must dug out to be used. Wall tiles that hide them have visible cracks.
Coin Shop - The standard shop that sells items for gold. There is one on every floor and the walls are made of gold. Defeating a shopkeeper will leave all shops for the rest of the run abandoned, with items free for the taking.
Grey Coin Shop - Looks like the standard shop, but the walls are slightly grey and the shopkeeper has red eyes. The shopkeeper is immediately hostile upon entering. Defeating this shopkeeper will not affect the normal coin shop.
Glass Shop - A shop that sells glass weapons and armor for gold.
Blood Shop - Any item can be sold here, but for the price of some of the hero's health.
Health Shop - Sells food items and heart containers.
Transmogrification - A chamber that accepts gold to replace current equipment with a random new piece.
Shrine Shop - Allows you to choose one of three shrines to use. Dragons will appear when the player attempts to blow the shrines up.
Pawnbroker - Buys items from the player for half price. The shopkeeper transforms the whole shop into tar tiles when turning hostile.
Conjurer - The conjurer will summon a random item of a chosen category for gold.
Bait Shop - The shop area contains three items seemingly free for the taking. Upon picking one up, a few monsters (including minibosses) will spawn and the exit will be locked until they are defeated.
Secret Dungeon Master Shop - May sometimes appear beyond the top wall of some shops. The shop floor is visible when the player has a far enough vision range. The player has to destroy the top wall to enter this shop. This shop will sell one powerful item for a low price. The dungeon master is the shopkeeper, and the only one that cannot be attacked.
These are shops found in the "main menu" lobby. Some of them have to be rescued from their cages within the dungeon. The cages are unlocked with Golden or Glass Keys, which can be found in the level's coin shop or hidden within the walls.
Dungeon Master - Sells permanent upgrades like heart containers, coin multipliers, and the amount of chests that appear in dungeons. Like all lobby shops he accepts diamonds as currency.
Hephaestus - Sells accessibility to open weapons, armor, and food in chests. After buying an item it will always appear in the next dungeon.
Merlin - Sells accessibility to spells, rings, and scrolls. After buying an item it will always appear in the next dungeon.
Beastmaster - Allows access to practice against all enemies the player has fought in dungeons before.
Bossmaster - Allows access to practice against the games boss fights in all of the incarnations.
Weaponmaster - Allows a selection of weapons (excluding Jeweled Dagger, Flower, and Golden Lute) for training in the Beastmaster and Bossmaster rooms.
Janitor - Removes items from the item pool for the next non-All Zones run in exchange for diamonds.
Diamond Dealer - Sells items to carry into the next non-All Zones run.