First announced at E3 2013, the upcoming rogue-like Below from Capy Games--the developers behind Super Time Force and Sword & Sorcery EP--has been a bit elusive. After the release of OK! K.O: Let's Be Heroes!, the team is now aiming for a late 2018 launch for its ambitious and eerily isolating rogue-like adventure. During PAX East 2018, we got the chance to play through the opening hour of the game and saw just how far you'll go into the deep and cavernous the depths of Capy Games's dark adventure.
As a rogue-like experience, players take on the role of a unnamed explorer who travels to a remote island to uncover the secrets of the dangerous caverns beneath its mountain. As you explore the surface of the island, finding safe haven at the beachside campsite and exploring the many alcoves and cliffside paths that surround the entrance to the mountain, you'll find resources and shortcuts that will aid you during your venture into the caves below. While the over-world is set in stone and has no dangers--giving some sense of familiarity and safety--the depths beneath the mountain are anything but, forcing you to contend with the unknown.
When you enter a new area of the depths, you're thrust into a randomly generated series of caverns filled with traps, enemies, and loot to find. As you scour the environment for resources to ensure your survival, such as new weapons and armor, and food and healing items, you acquire valuable gems that power your lantern's light. With your lantern, you'll be able to traverse the subterranean environment, while also revealing the dangerous creatures and traps hidden in the shadows and fog. After clearing through sections, you'll eventually find safe areas in the below, allowing you to set a single fast-travel spot to head to and from the beachside camp. Some traps such as tripwire will can cause you to stumble--deadly when running away from enemies--but hidden spikes are far more deadly. Unfortunately, death is all but inevitable for the uninitiated explorer. And it's only a matter of time when the adventurer dies a lonely death in the dark caverns below.
Upon your character's death, you'll lose all your resources and the explorer's body will stay where it lays. However, back on the surface, a new explorer will come to the island in similar fashion to the previous one--where they'll try to pick up where they left off, and hopefully do better this time around. All progress in the depths and shortcuts made on the over-world are left intact, allowing the next explorer to have a slightly easier time during their trip to where the previous explorer died, which has all resources left from the last run. From there, it's uncharted territory and you'll have to do your best to survive in the further reaches underground. Eventually, one explorer will make it to the furthest reaches of the island.
In many ways, Below is a game of inches. Progress can be slow and gradual, but over time you'll be able to make it over the hump and proceed to find epic loot and hidden wonders in the depths. Though despite its stoic nature and oppressively dark atmosphere, Below still offers moments of pause and reflection, making you feel grateful that you've at least made it as far as you did. With a release expected sometime later this year, Below's haunting and gorgeously atmospheric take on the traditional rogue-like setup looks to be an experience you'll want to keep an eye on.