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Crypt of the NecroDancer’s Surprise Update Turns Hatsune Miku Into A Monster Slayer

This dungeon just got a lot cuter.

screenshot from Crypt of the NecroDancer Hatsune Miku DLC
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Crypt of the NecroDancer has been available for an astonishing nine years now, a fact I never stop being surprised by. That’s because its rhythm game meets dungeon crawler premise still feels as fresh as it did on release day, and because it’s still getting substantial updates all these years later. Case in point, last month saw the full release of the Synchrony DLC, which adds an online multiplayer mode among other features, and the game is already getting a smaller, no less exciting update today. Starting today, everyone’s favorite robot pop star joins the roster with Crypt of the NecroDancer’s Hatsune Miku character DLC.

Just in case you’ve slept on Crypt of the NecroDancer all this time, here’s the premise: It’s a 2D dungeon crawler with movement on a grid like Dungeons of Dreadrock, but instead of moving on turns, you do it on beats. Each level is set to a catchy track with a clear beat, and mistiming your movements costs you health. Enemies also move on the beat — colliding with them while they’re still or moving away will hurt them, but doing so while they’re moving toward your character will hurt you.

Playing as Hatsune Miku sounds as good as it looks.

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Alongside with the original’s main character, Cadence, there’s a whole stable of other characters that add gameplay twists like custom weapons and abilities. Despite her appearance, Hatsune Miku is no different. While getting to play as the Vocaloid idol would probably be enough, her gameplay is some of the most challenging and unique in all of NecroDancer. For starters, she can move diagonally across tiles, instead of the four cardinal directions others are locked to. And while characters stay in place and attack when they move into an enemy, Miku dashes through to the other side while doing damage. Dashing through enemies into walls is also the only way to break them, as opposed to other characters who can simply use shovels to dig through.

Hatsune Miku’s signature move is emphatically called SING! When it’s used, it charms nearby creatures so that when they attack Miku, they’ll heal her instead of harming her. She’s just too lovable to hurt. It’s a powerful ability that’s fun to use, and recharging it requires you to pull off tricky attack combos by hitting multiple enemies in sequence without missing a beat.

Of course, the main appeal of Hatsune Miku is her music, and the NecroDancer DLC adds 15 tracks with Miku’s vocals, including two by the game’s original composer, Danny Baranowsky. As you descend further into the dungeon, you’ll get faster songs to match the increasing difficulty, so it takes some serious work to make your way through the entire new soundtrack. The new soundtrack is on by default when you’re playing as Hatsune Miku, but it can also be used with other characters if you don’t vibe with her gameplay style.

Hatsune Miku’s unique playstyle makes Crypt of the NecroDancer feel like a new game.

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I’m still working my way through the sometimes exceptionally tough Crypt of the NecroDancer as Hatsune Miku, but so far I’m loving it. Her unique movement style takes some getting used to, since zipping through enemies with each attack can put you in the path of danger as much as it helps you avoid it. Her eight-directional movement is also a big change, and I’ve been enjoying the challenge of luring enemies into convenient formations that let me dash through them all at once for massive combos. And along the way, I’ve of course been bopping to the DLC’s great new soundtrack — at least the parts of it I’ve gotten far enough to hear.

But with all of the additions that actually change how Crypt of the NecroDancer functions in some important way, my favorite has to be the most inconsequential. Just as Hatsune Miku is known for her synthetic voice appearing in songs by many different artists, her look is just as malleable. The Hatsune Miku DLC for NecroDancer plays off her ever-changing style by actually putting Miku in a different one of her official outfits each time you pick up armor while playing as her. While it doesn’t actually change how she plays,getting to go through multiple costume changes in each run is still tons of fun.

If you’re coming into Crypt of the NecroDancer fresh, be warned that Miku’s quite a tricky character to play as, so it might be a good idea to start with the default character and just switch to her soundtrack to get into the groove. It’s still absolutely worth it, since Crypt of the NecroDancer remains unmatched in combining fast-paced strategy with exhilarating rhythm gameplay. It’s been a while since I’ve gone back to the original NecroDancer — at least since the Legend of Zelda-themed Cadence of Hyrule spin-off — but I can’t wait to finish my dungeon delve with Hatsune Miku blasting from my headphones.

The Crypt of the NecroDancer Hatsune Miku character DLC launches on PC on April 4. Its PlayStation and Nintendo Switch release dates are still TBD.

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