Necronomicon in Review – Stopping Cthulhu is just a matter of having the right cards at the right time…

It seems my recent cry for more CCG games on the iDevice in the introduction to the review of Riese has not gone unnoticed. Lucidsphere Media recently released Necronomicon – an original single-player game with a mix of CCG and board game elements, inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft and the dreaded Cthulhu. Though the meme of calling upon its name that has swept over the internet a few years ago has passed, the universe created by the famous author is still one of the most recognizable of any horror setting out there.

Necronomicon is an original blend of CCG and board game mechanics. A group of cultists have stolen the dreaded Necronomicon from the Miskatonic Universities library and yet again are trying to call upon Cthulhu. Through the open portal minions of the dark god have begun to leak into our world and it’s up to a unlikely bunch of investigators to defeat them, recover the stolen tomes and seal back the portal.

The gameplay of Necronomicon is split into 3 distinct phases. In phase 1 you get the actual CCG gameplay, with a 5 slots for the Chtulhu cards, 5 opposing slots for the investigator cards, a library and a graveyard. You draw cards one by one from the deck and place it according to the type. If it is an investigator or a monster you have to place it on one of the unoccupied slots for each team, and if it is a modifier, you have to apply it to one of the existing creatures in play or, sometimes, to an unoccupied slot. Most cards have to be used at once, though some may be stashed in the graveyard for the time being. If you have a monster and an investigator in the slots opposite one another – they fight and after all the bonuses are added up and the attack dice are rolled, the loser is removed from the playing field. In the end the goal is to have all investigator slots occupied and draw 2 more investigator cards to progress to the next phase.

Phase 2 is a rather simple board game. Each turn you roll the dice and may move your piece across the gaming board. If you reach an unexplored room you may reveal an ally or a piece of the lost necronomicon. If you end up on a free or already visited location, however, at the end of the turn you may randomly be either pushed back, placed in the asylum, library or just left alone. And the allies you find along the way alleviate some of the conditions. The goal in phase 2 is to gather all artifacts and allies and return to the library, where the final battle is triggered. This last part is quite straightforward and you are awarded life according to the combined parameters of all of your investigators in play and roll a 20-sided die in turn with Cthulhu to deal damage. Whichever reduces the enemy to 0 first wins.

Visually I can’t help to admire the amount of work gone into creating the cards. All of the artwork is excellent, stylish and recognizable and on par with the art for such full-blown CCGs as MTG, or WoW TcG. The musical score is also on par with eerie music adding to the atmosphere. The controls and interface are the only real issue. They are far from perfect, with all of the information on the cards being quite confusing and the way the battle parameters are added up still being a mystery to me. And the lack of any AI and complete control over where to place the monster cards end up making a serious blow to the gameplay interest, sometimes reminiscing of playing solitaire rather than a CCG game.

Necronomicon is one of the few CCG-type games on the App Store and it’s certainly a very promising one. The developers already promised to keep more content coming via updates and DLC packs to expand the game. And coupled with an original gameplay system, excellent artwork and atmospheric music this sets the game off to a nice start. Provided they manage to polish the interface to make it less confusing and add some AI, Necronomicon has everything in it to be the crown jewel of CCGs on the platform.

With this I declare Necronomicon officially touched!

App Summary
Title: NecronomiconDeveloper: Lucidsphere Media
Reviewed Ver:1.1.1Min OS Req:3.0
Price:$1.99App Size:77.88MB
  • Original CCG and board game mechanics
  • Authentic atmosphere
  • Excellent artwork
  • Confusing interface
  • No Retina support
  • No AI involvement in the gameplay

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