PAX East 2014 | The Sense of Discovery from Below

Discover. Scavenge. Explore. These three words top the demo station for Below, the upcoming Capy title for Xbox One and Steam. After spending about fifteen minutes or so with the game, I learned just how adequate they were.

One thing that will (sadly) draw people away from Below is how un-intuitive the game seems. I wasn’t exactly sure the game fully backed out to the start menu when I hit “quit” after the demo opened up, but low and behold, things really do begin washed up on a beach with zero introduction. While this doesn’t seem like the best way to approach the opening of a game, it somehow works here. Granted, the knowledge that the entire game is based on exploring your surroundings is something that’s needed in advance.

Still, there’s a certain sense of caution and discovery that Below emits that helps it stand apart from the crowd. While it can be frustrating to search through the overworld at what seems like a snails pace, the feelings you get when traversing through a dungeon are quite remarkable. Thanks in part to the randomly generated level design, you’re never quite sure what you’re going to get. This plays in with the game’s mechanic of blacking out parts of a room you’ve yet to discover. Even still, the camera only stays in focus around a small area, centering on our hero. It results in walking at a slower pace than you may be used to in a game, but trust me; it works.

To be honest, if you were sprinting from room to room in a dungeon, you’d probably end up dying a lot. The amount of dangers that wait around every corner are pretty surprising, especially considering that things don’t always look too dangerous. But we have to remember: Below is different. That stone tower isn’t always nice to be around. That brown area on the ground is probably spikes waiting to impale you. Those bugs aren’t always pushovers. Again, caution wins out at the end of the day and I can forsee many a case where you’ll get a sense of accomplishment from completing a room in a dungeon.

There’s still a ton we don’t know about Below. Hopefully that won’t last much longer, but since the game is still without a release date, we’ll just have to cross our fingers.

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