Going Under is a satirical dungeon crawler where bust start-up companies are doomed to live out their failings in the underground beneath Neo-Cascadia.
Jackie is a new intern, freshly assigned to work at Fizzle Beverages. Little does she know that her job role goes beyond fetching the morning coffee order. Now she must traverse the dungeons below in order to kill the monsters within and stop them stealing the office supplies – and perhaps even bag herself some sweet loot in the process.
In rogue-lite fashion, runs can be easier (or harder) depending on which power-ups happen to spawn. Items are scattered across each level, most of which can be used as weapons to overthrow your foes as quickly as possible. Killing enemies rewards you with currency that can be spent in randomly generated shops in order to purchase health, skills and an array of other items to help you on your way.
As a satirical presentation of the Silicon Valley-esque business infrastructure, Going Under displays witty dialogue and a sense of self-awareness that really makes it stand out. It’s somewhat-kitsch art style is clean and vibrant; reminiscent of a somewhat-odd-but-just-as-delightful clash between Adventure Time and Katamari Damacy.
What sets Going Under apart is its vibrant hub world where the player can connect with the NPC’s – delving deeper into Neo-Cascadian life and providing backstory on the failed businesses that you find yourself questing within.
The colourful, fluffy exterior belies punishing rogue-lite mechanics that takes the player by surprise and the gameplay is a lot more technical than what might be assumed. Weapons have varying stat attributes and are further diversified with durability, damage and element stats to boot. Apps are a consumable ability mechanic that can be picked up and ‘installed’ in order to gain a temporary effect, like ‘self-care’ which causes Jackie to pull out a yoga mat in order to regain some health.
Despite their simplicity, the controls can sometimes feel a little cumbersome, especially when it comes to lobbing objects frantically at your enemies. This is slightly alleviated with the ability to target your foe but more often than not this still seems to miss and you watch as your trusty giant cactus flails uselessly across the room.
The soundtrack for Going Under is beautifully crafted and adds to the hipster undertones that flow throughout. Encompassing a myriad of tempos, catchy melodies and beats, it’s almost hard to believe that it was created in-house amongst their already small team and is worth checking out on its own merit. You can listen to the whole album here.
For a small indie games developer from Seattle; Aggro Crab have really set the bar high. Having been surrounded with start-up culture throughout their years at college, Nick Kaman and Caelan Pollock set upon making a game that characterised their rapidly-changing and growing environment. They picked up Joanna Lin, Felix Peaslee, Sam Strick, and Luiz Mello along the way, poking fun at start up-culture and the internet as we currently know it. After two years of hard graft, the idea came to fruition, and they landed Team17 as their publisher.
Going Under provides a fresh, new take on the dungeon-crawler genre which is usually saturated with dark, gloomy aesthetics. Gameplay is consistently surprising, lavishing the player with a large assortment of weapons and power ups as they progress through unique environments. It’s all coated lovingly with whimsical wordplay, light-hearted satire and a funky soundtrack. Going Under is a labour of love, and it oozes charm from every angle.