Going Under, the recent rogue-lite title from developer Aggrocrab and publisher Team17, provides a fun and humorous experience as well as an interesting critique & parody of late-stage capitalism, startup companies, and mobile apps.
In Going Under, you play as Jackie, an unpaid intern at Neo-Cascadia-based company, Fizzle. While your job is supposed to be a bit more standard, your new boss tells her that first, she needs to help get rid of their monster problems by exploring different dungeons and defeating the bosses. To fight these hordes of enemies, you have to utilize any nearby objects at your disposal, from normal office supplies to more standard weapons like swords, spears, and axes, and even small cars & body pillows, until they break. You can also have up to three weapons at a time to switch between for different situations. The weapon durability can get kind of annoying, but since weapons are literally everywhere it’s not much of a problem, most weapons also take some time to break, so you aren’t constantly looking for something else to pick up, not that you would have to look far.
In addition to the large variety of weapons, you can also equip limited use apps (special abilities) for benefits such as health restoration, AOE attacks, powerful but very limited use weapons, and more. It’s not always clear how many uses an app will have before equipping it and I think it would be preferable if there was a way to boost the number of uses in general. Otherwise, these apps can be really useful in a pinch, particularly when you’re in a situation where maybe you’re in a room that doesn’t have the most effective weapons or if you’re just trying to get through it quicker.
Tasks can also be accepted in different rooms of a dungeon, and usually involves defeating a number of enemies in some way. Tasks are beneficial in that you’re usually given a new weapon or two as well as a health restoration item. So it’s always good to do them for an extra boost, even if they aren’t required to get to the next room.
You can also purchase helpful items from in-dungeon shops and gain additional abilities as well as curses, basically abilities with drawbacks, from side rooms when you find them. In shops, you just need to have accumulated enough money for what you need, and more money can be obtained from defeating more enemies and complete tasks. It’s likely that you won’t often have enough money to get everything, but having enough to purchase one or two items, such as some food to restore health and a new weapon, provides a decent boost during a run.
Between runs, you can purchase abilities that can give you a boost on your next run. If you save up enough you can purchase everything available on the counter, and yet it still won’t make you feel overpowered most of the time. Once again, making runs only slightly easier, but not enough that it completely deters the gameplay.
As you complete more runs, new dungeons become accessible, so the story seems to progress some even when you haven’t finished your task in a specific dungeon yet. Additionally, there are a number of accessibility options that are probably Going Under’s most notable feature. These accessibility options include an increased amount of health, lower enemy health, higher weapon durability, and slightly longer invincibility periods after taking damage or dodging. Even with assist mode on,there seems to be a bit of a difficulty curve in later levels, so you might be struggling a little less with these options turned on, but you’ll still get defeated a few times even with all those enhancements.
There are only three dungeons, so Going Under can be a rather short experience for more experienced players of the genre, although mixed with the accessibility options its brevity can be beneficial to those who want to become more accustomed to rogue-lite style gameplay. Players can adjust the difficulty to their heart’s content until they feel comfortable turning all accessibility options off and playing the more standard difficulty level. There are also some post-release plans which include a fourth dungeon, a “Big Run” mode, which combines all dungeons into a more continuous experience, replayable late-game content, new items, skills, curses, and cosmetics, a bestiary, and various bug fixes and balance updates.
Although Going Under is Single Player-only and “there are currently no plans for multiplayer,” according to the developer, I feel that Going Under would lend itself well to a Local and Online Co-Op mode. Since you only go through each dungeon on a room by room basis, there wouldn’t be any worry about one player going ahead of the other and it could further help lone players get through the sections they’ve been struggling with.
The graphics have a more cartoony style that lends itself well to the over-the-top tone of the game, but it doesn’t feel all that unique next to a number of other indie games with similar three-dimensional cartoon-like art styles. Some may be turned off by this art style, and I don’t think it’s what will get players to consider trying the game out. The music, although not terrible by any means, also doesn’t really stand out much. Since the real meat of Going Under is the gameplay, the graphics and music not doing much to stand out isn’t all that detrimental, but I feel like it’s one of the reasons it has been overshadowed by other similar recent rogue-lite games.
Going Under is a fun and silly game and due to its comedic value, variety of accessibility options, and enjoyable and its more simple gameplay, it shouldn’t be ignored. Its accessibility options help make it more welcoming to those less experienced with rogue-lites. If any of that sounds appealing to you, then I definitely recommend this game.
Code provided by the publisher.