Crypt of the NecroDancer is a top-down 2D dungeon crawler in which the player controls one of a selection of characters to explore several levels of an underground dungeon that are procedurally generated similar to roguelike games.
Players can manipulate their character by using either a dance pad, a mouse and keyboard, or a gamepad. Unlike traditional roguelikes, the player can only have their character move or attack if they perform the action on the beat of the music. Like with many rhythm games, each successful beat match will boost a coin scoring multiplier along with the completion of the action. Failure to match each beat does not directly harm the character in most situations, but this will cause the scoring multiplier to be reset, and may cause the character to be harmed by a nearby monster if he/she is in their attack path. The character can also be harmed by moving into a monster’s attack. When the character’s health meter empties, the game is over. Monsters move according to predetermined patterns by type which the player must learn to attack and avoid damage effectively.