Going Under – Review
Follow Genre: Action, Roguelike
Developer: Aggro Crab
Publisher: Team17
Platform: PC, Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch
Tested On: PC (Steam)

Going Under – Review

Site Score
8.0
Good: Good gameplay, vibrant designs
Bad: Lack of variation in builds
User Score
8.0
(2 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 8.0/10 (2 votes cast)

Roguelikes are generally not best known for the story, usually focusing on the core gameplay loop instead. This is partly due to how runs are structured, long stretches of dungeons with bosses in-between. To alter this common formula, Going Under does something quite unique, splitting everything into shorter, independent runs.

Story

Going Under’s story revolves around Jacqueline, or Jackie as most call her, an unpaid intern selected by the megacorp Cubicle to work at Fizzle, a soft drink startup. Under the pretense of working in marketing, she’s strung along by Marv, the project leader, to clear dungeons of monsters plaguing the startup.

These dungeons are nothing other than the ruins of other failed startups, where the employees all turned into monsters. Fighting through floors filled with monsters, Jackie will come to face their bosses, who have turned into representations of what made the startups fail, and obtain the dark relics that gave them power.

While the game doesn’t have the deepest story, it is still way more than can be usually found in a roguelike. This story is filled with humor and satire of the real world, from coffee-addicted workaholics to jokes about spyware and programming. This is also only made better by the quirky characters and their charming, although not plentiful, interactions.

Graphics

Those that know Totally Accurate Battle Simulator will feel right at home with Going Under. The goofy models, ragdolls and vibrant colors will make players feel welcome while projecting a fun and dynamic atmosphere.

The designs for the different dungeons and their inhabitants are also quite unique and varied. Each of the dungeons has its own type of monsters of the same “family” but each with different designs. The bosses are especially unique, twice the size than any other enemy and completely unique designs.

Sound

The game’s sound is also quite good, with a packed 29 song soundtrack and well made SFX. There is also some amount of voice-acting for cutscenes, although dialogues resort to gibberish noises in order to represent each character.

Gameplay

Going Under’s take on the usual roguelike formula is a pretty unique one, from splitting runs into several shorter dungeons to breakable weapons. Power scaling doesn’t come from obtaining stronger weapons, but instead from gaining abilities.

These abilities come at a rate of two or three per floor generally, although there are some exceptions. Their effects can also range from simple damage or range increases to having enemies join the party or lighting them on fire. A problem that could be had with how the game handles these is that they do not make the player feel particularly strong. While they do make runs smoother, enemies stay the same throughout floors and so do players for the most part.

This also applies to weapons, which, as previously stated, are all breakable. What this implies for the player is that no weapon, as strong as it may be, will last for more than a few hits, leaving players looking for something to replace it. Although it is arguably a way of adding depth to the combat, it is not particularly enjoyable to be left without an efficient way of fending off enemies.

The game also includes a system of special effects in the shape of “apps” for Jackie’s phone. These effects can range from regaining one heart to obtaining an invincible rainbow car for a short period. Apps are not that varied, although usually a welcome sight. Their usefulness can depend on the situation and at times a choice between two will need to be taken.

Other things to find in the game are the roguelike touches, these coming in the shape of “endorsed” abilities and mentors. Endorsed abilities are just abilities that have been used for long enough to become eligible at the start of a run, while mentors provide unique effects. The power of mentors evolves depending on how many tasks are done for the fellow employees of Fizzle. The effects provided vary depending on the mentor’s personality, with Tappy the accountant increasing cash earned or Swomp the cashier providing random items.

The general feeling of the game is quite smooth and easy to get used to; it includes the usual charged attack and dodge rolls, making old players of the genre feel right at home. The maps are also structured into small rooms filled with enemies and a few special ones such as the shop or the ability one, both guaranteed on each floor.

Conclusion

Going Under is quite a good game with pretty unique and well-applied ideas. Certain mechanics could see some polishing, but overall it is really enjoyable. Even if it may not be a pure roguelike, fans of the genre will still most likely enjoy it, though it should be mentioned a “full run” mode combining all dungeons is planned later on.

Personal Opinion

“I liked Going Under although I didn’t enjoy it as much as I could’ve. You see, I find that a very appealing part for me in a roguelike is the ability to have a broken run; while it is true in Going Under the problem of being underpowered is relatively gone, so is the possibility of the opposite. There is no one-shotting bosses or wiping rooms in an instant, the most similar thing to the latter only happens in very few cases. I find it quite unsatisfactory to go around dealing almost the same damage and without any special effects. Sure, electrifying enemies on crits or burning them after focusing on them is nice, but there’s no flair to it. Getting to the point where I can stand there and annihilate everything is the most fun part of any game for me.”

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Rating: 8.0/10 (2 votes cast)
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Going Under - Review, 8.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings

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