Dancing in the Crypt
Stomping my feet to the beat of this dirt-lined, slime-filled cave is not how I envisioned my adventure. Still, being enslaved to a dance-obsessed demon could be worse... I can think of musical genres I would rather die than be forced to move to. Stepping smoothly to the right, I take the head off a zombie, his soft flesh dissolving into a thousand sparkling lights. This demon lord has got all of the details of a nightclub – right down to the odd couples lurking in the corners. Those I trained with had been fascinated by monsters, playing heroes and beasts long into the nights we weren't completely exhausted. Perhaps some things about humans fascinate demons and that's why we had a bouncing, undead party under the earth.
Sidestepping a golden slime, I take a bite of ham then slash him through the middle. It's easier to move when one is in-tune with something larger than oneself. My limbs slip effortlessly past each other, inflicting grievous wounds at every turn. Off to my left, a giant bat weaves its way towards me with graceful sweeps of its huge wings. Another pleasing aspect of this place is the colour. Everything is bright, active and flashy. Really, the only down-side to this whole situation is that my heart is enslaved to a groove-crazed maniac who wants me to jive myself into being one of the ever-present zombies longing for flesh.
Twirling forward, golden folds fall away from the dungeon boss and I scale the ladder to the next level. Even before I've fully emerged my pulse is slowing, body changing to accommodate the slower pace of the vibrations. They radiate through the air and floor, reflected as grotesque shadows in the monsters around me. As I move one forward then two back, each careful step conscious of the beasts circling, I thrill at the kaleidoscope of lights beginning to spring from the floor.
Unity with the demon's beat brings about the purest of energy. In the above world, violence is a last resort, something to be scorned and avoided. Here, survival is assured by how well you can utilise the environment and how well you know those who wish to eat you. Ducking low, I avoid a monkey that wants to chew on my face, a wraith following close behind. My little sword strikes true, the durable purple fiend falling apart. The wraith and I tango for several moves, my regular pokes eventually leaving me alone in the flashing room.
I meet many strange monstrosities: mushrooms that remind me of products from a hallucination, mages that require faster footwork than I'd thought possible to achieve, creatures that leave gifts of pain and complication in their wake and eerie representations of people reminiscent of those I left behind. The only friend I've had in these dark chambers is a member of the demon lord's choir. I liked to think he was helping me, selling improved weapons and armour that would enable me to accomplish my task. He might have simply been doing his duty, commanded so by his master or for self-preservation in a world where tempers flare alongside the tempo.
After chopping through small fry and awe-inspiring bosses, I reach the lair of the demon that holds my heart. My father is at my side, the room pounding with jostling, lethal monsters dancing to their master's beat. On a silver stage stands the one who saved my life by enslaving me.
His laughs resonates in the rhythm and, as I shuffle in time with the one that originally brought me to this crypt, the grand stage gives way. My body is trembling with fatigue, eyes fogging with the strain of keeping the foes around me at bay. I can see the determination in my father's eyes. He gives me a half-smile that bestows a last rush of energy. Up, down, left, left, down, slash, right. It feels like it will go on forever, this dance that's taken me through dozens of caves, covered me in the blood of nameless enemies and left me unsure of what a world without constant raving is like.
I see the demon lord's eyes as I cut through his cloak and into his aqua flesh – an insane rainbow of boundless adrenaline. Even as he feels his life drawing to a close he smiles at me, glad to see that I must move to his music to best him. I could have killed him one step sooner but faltered, struck by the power he's given me. He probably did not mean to do it. I'm certain I've never been anymore than a living slave to him, yet he has given me more than I could ever have had before. Strength of character and body, a sense of purpose, the determination to carry it out and the ability to see that all things, mortal and otherwise, are connected by intangible webs. Deep underground, the demon lord brought these other senses to the surface.
I came here with a purpose... but never thought that I would find fulfillment in these resonating halls of upbeat rhythm. When I rise from the ruins of this disco, demon and human blood caked into my clothes, my heart will still beat with the essence of this hellish place. I will never again be quite human, nor will my father, who nearly sacrificed everything in pursuit of a golden lute.
Should the normal world prove too alien to my changed reality perhaps I shall return to these crowded chambers and strike up the band left idle after their master's demise. In its flickering lights, rumbling ground and shrieking voices, I may take up the mantle left to me. One man planted the desire for adventure but it was a demon who nurtured it to maturity.
Crypt of the Necrodancer is owned by Brace Yourself Games. The above makes me no profit. It is merely an expression of my appreciation for the game.