Necronomicon: Book of Dead Names


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Rating: 4.3/5 (102 votes)
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corygalliherNecronomicon: Book of Dead NamesIf there's one thing I've learned through the years it's that one shouldn't mess with dark forces that they don't understand. One example of this is when I sneaked onto Jay's editing console here at JayIsGames. Suffice to say we're still getting emails from people who had seizures from my horrific site redesigns that included fluffy pink ponies and cherubs. Another example is when I played Necronomicon: Book of Dead Names, the card strategy sequel to the original Necronomicon by Games of Cthulhu.

Much like the original, your goal in Book of Dead Names is to deplete your opponent's Life points while preventing them from doing the same to you. You'll accomplish this by unleashing the power of the Cthulhu Mythos in the form of creatures, spells and mystical artifacts. You need to beware, though; more powerful abilities and items come at a cost of your Sanity! If your Sanity runs too low, you run the risk of losing the game instantly. You'll need to keep track of several other stats as well. Your Taint level acts as a sort of poison; you'll take damage equal to your Taint every turn. You can defend against your foe's attacks by boosting your Elder Sign level and you can power up your own attacks by boosting your Arcane level. There are a number of roads to victory; I found that I did best when I focused on boosting my Arcane and using attack spells to deal damage.

Creatures are the primary way that you'll deal damage to your opponent, and one of the main changes from the original game is the ability to have more than one creature summoned at a time. Instead, you can have two creatures on offense and two on defense. This goes a long way toward adding more strategy to the game and helps add variety to creatures by making some better at attack and some at defense. Another change deals with the game's upgrade system. You'll grow more powerful between duels depending on the rankings you earn. Each time you achieve an S rank in a duel, you'll gain two points of Life and one point of Sanity; later you also gain one point of Arcane. Your foes will also grow more powerful as you play so it becomes necessary to get S ranks to keep up - this also means that the game in general is much more difficult than the original since you can become more powerful with practice.

While it's fairly similar to the original, particularly because a lot of the art assets are recycled, Book of Dead Names helps update the Necronomicon formula and add a lot of much-needed depth. The difficulty might turn some players off, especially since as a card game it's possible to lose matches by simply not getting the cards you need, but it's still worth a look for card game and Lovecraft fans alike. Just try not to unleash any dark powers. It's a pain to clean up after that kind of thing.

Play Necronomicon: Book of Dead Names

Thanks to Jeremy for sending this one in!

18 Comments

Anonymous June 3, 2011 10:18 AM

Just started playing, and I love it already. But the text on the cards is very small; I've got the browser zoomed in so far I can't see the whole game on the screen at once. If there were a full-screen option, this game would be much easier to play.

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Anonymous June 3, 2011 11:54 AM

The gameplay is good, but every battle is the same. It would be more interesting if there were cards to unlock as you go along, say at every 5th battle.

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Anonymous June 3, 2011 1:47 PM

So I beat all the levels, and the ending is... completely non-existent. What? Not even a congratulatory message?

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Anonymous June 3, 2011 6:54 PM

Yeah, though the gameplay has improved somewhat (still like how they handled insanity and such before. plus it becomes quite hard and dangerous to become insane unlike before where one card was "opponent becomes insane"), the story and progression took a drop from the previous title. Also, there did not seem to be any special "challenge" levels with unique mechanics this time around so all levels are basically the same. The scoring system is also quite unbalanced, where you could lose and still get a S or win and get a D. It also becomes quite easy after you've achieved S on some of the later levels. Still, I liked the system, though I wished they gave the story some attention.

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This game could use some more +Stars cards. I've played like 8 games without any Great Old Ones appearing.

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I thought it was good for what it was. It's a quick pick-up card game without deck building (oh how I hate building custom decks sometimes.)

Strategy seems to be 90% luck of the draw and 10% knowing which cards to play. The only challenge offered is bad luck and increasing power of opponents.

I do not like the Load 'feature' as it merely drops you off at the last undefeated opponent. I would have liked to choose which level opponent to play against in case I got a lower grade in an earlier match.

I have no idea what mobsters are doing in this game. I understand the need for physical attacks, but it just doesn't seem to mesh with the whole Lovecraft theme.

A little more flair and some animated sprites would have been appreciated. Perhaps some different deck and BG graphics depending on what tier of opponent you were playing.

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This game could use some more cards period, Aegeus.

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Harlequin June 4, 2011 12:41 AM

The game mechanics are still fun, but needs more cards and cards with more variety. Perhaps something to make bad draws less horrifying? I can't count the number of matches where my opponent has Dark Young Charged me into the turf while I pull an army of Elder Things.

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Strangely enough I found the very first level to be the toughest - I lost about four times in a row before my first win, and from there on my ranks were almost all S. I think that the game could have benefited from more attention to long-term balance in that regard (it's like an exaggerated Nethack difficulty curve).

Funny story: I managed to barely win a round and got an F score for it. On that subject, I think the scoring would be fairer if it counted "sanity lost" and "health lost" as points against you rather than the current system, which is "sanity remaining" and "health remaining" as points for you - the distinction is that someone with a higher maximum health and sanity will get a higher score for a round that plays exactly the same as one for a player with less of each.

Last is my complaint that the game is pretty unclear about how location/character/tome effects get added and subtracted when put into effect and taken out. It seems illogical that I can be in a position where I have umpteen items that GIVE me defense when entered into play and will REDUCE that same stat by the same amount if I were to remove them... but the enemy can still dispel my defense to 0, making them completely worthless in that event.

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hikari no sakura Author Profile Page June 4, 2011 5:27 AM

Oh dear, this is more addicting than the first one. Although strangely, I don't feel so compelled to keep myself as sane as last time, once you get bonuses from S ranks it's hard to even get it to 0.

Not sure how scoring goes, I once lost a round but got a S.

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Crabbadon June 4, 2011 7:51 PM

Really disappointing; the first one kept introducing new elements as it went along, this one... increases some numbers? Be still my beating heart. And there's no real incentive to try to stop the Great Old Ones appearing as there's about two cards that summon them.

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Yeah, this game could have used a little more brushing up-- maybe some more playtesting to balance play better. The fact is, the game gets too easy as you go along, if you get an "S" score every time. And for a game steeped in the Lovecraft mythos, once the very beginning rounds have passed, it's far too difficult to go insane. The protagonist battling with their own sanity is one of the most interesting things about Lovecraft's stories, and this game goes as far as to acknowledge this, and then miss the point. Due to the fact that you can't play cards with insanity scores once your insanity drops to zero, it's hard to become suicidal even if you try!

I also take issue with the introduction of "Nyarlothotep" and "Cthulhu" as playable enemies-- especially as they are so weak. It wouldn't be so bad if their stats were ridiculously high-- requiring, say, that you needed "S" scores all along the way to even have a chance of beating them, and even then it's difficult-- but in this game's world, evidently even Great Old Ones are merely a little bit stronger than a powerful human. Hmmm. Not to mention that it's possible for this game Cthulhu (whose mere incomprehensible existence drives humans insane) to go insane and become suicidal; and even for Cthulhu to "summon Cthulhu" and be driven mad himself. What???

Finally, has anybody been able to get the "Holding Back" achievement? My game appears to be buggy. I beat my enemies many times without using Arcane Attack cards-- even going so far as to not even discard any I received, in case the game counted that as "using them"-- and still won't accept the achievement as won. Ah well.

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fuzzyface Author Profile Page June 5, 2011 11:59 AM

Discarding a card doubles its insanity rating to gain sanity? This is IMHO a breaker, also story-wise. The whole art should get you into insanity sooner or later. Just passing 1 out of 3 options should not be enough. it also makes trying to move your opponent into insanity not much a viable option.

Other its mixture of personal gains and items gains is quite messed up. E.g. I play an elder thing, get +3 defense. I get dispelled and get +0 defense, although the elder thing is still there! (IMHO only _I_ should be dispelled, not any gains from items/tomes/monsters). But it gets even stranger, I play an elder sign, get +1 defense. The elder thing gets killed, and I'm down to 0 again. Why, it didn't contribute anymore...

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Anonymous June 5, 2011 6:27 PM

Taint level? Seriously? That can't be a completely innocent slip- haven't laughed that hard in quite some time!

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Quin, I'm having the same problem with the "Holding Back" achievement. I think it's a bug as I've tried everything I can think of.

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Could not get the Holding Back achievement either. Also there seems to be a bug where sometimes you can not select one of your attackers for an attack (he will not highlight, but the other attacker is able to be selected). Had this happen 4 or 5 times while playing through the game, no apparent game explanation for it. Also, as noted above the ranking system seems wonky, have gotten an F when I have won the game and a S when I have won. More cards, sound effects, animations, more variation, more opponents, a story and cut scenes would all make a great concept into a really great game.

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Ridiculous ad for some Nintendo game keeps crashing halfway through its dodgy embedded video, thus preventing me from playing the game. A bit ridiculous.

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In trying to get the "holding back" achievement I went so far as to not play any card with arcane of any kind on it, including creature summons that only have red numbers and still I did not get the achievement.

It is not as good as the last it seems easier, however the first levels were more interesting because you had to get some strategy going, by the 15th or so it was mostly repetitive.

I like the feel of this version of the game. One thing though when loading a saved game it would be nice to go back to the levels screen. If I checked for an achievement after playing a lower level to try to get it it would then take me back to the next low level to play and no way to get to the other levels until finishing either winning or losing that level.

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