27th Jan2021

‘Going Under’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Phil Wheat

I’m not normally a fan of rogue-likes, dungeon crawlers, or any kind of RPG-esque video games. I equate game like that to spending hours and hours grinding, leveling up, crafting weapons etc., and I just don’t have the patience. But, given that reviewers should be open-minded when it comes to covering different titles that are outside their comfort zone, that doesn’t stop me giving such games a chance. And I’m glad I did in this case, because if I had I wouldn’t have ever got a chance to play – and ultimately LOVE – Going Under.

Going Under is a satirical dungeon crawler about exploring the cursed ruins of failed tech startups. As an unpaid intern in the dystopian city of Neo-Cascadia, you’ll wield office junk as weaponry as you make your way through the offbeat procedural dungeons beneath your company campus; battling through the remains of failed startups themed off of gig workers, dating sites, and cryptocurrency. Uncover the true motives of your employer, a carbonated drink startup known as Fizzle, and their parent company, a subscription box manufacturer with an army of helpful shipping drones…

It’s that off-beat description that caught my attention, then I saw Going Under‘s brilliantly bright, funny, colourful visuals and realised that this looks and sounds unlike ANY dungeon crawler I’d ever played (or tried to play) before. And it is. In fact Going Under is, in my opinion, the kind of game for people who DON’T typically like these kinds of games. Not only is the subject matter totally different but the game feels unlike your typical dungeon crawler – even though that is essentially what you are doing. Then there’s the intriguing aspect of the game, trying to uncover what the hell is going on; what truths are being untold; and just why there’s a bung a mutated staff members under Fizzle’s headquarters!

Why – I think – Going Under succeeds is that is delivers story and action in equal measure, never sacrificing one for the other. How many times have you played a dungeon crawler/RPG where you spend more time asking questions – stuck in dialogue scenes for much longer than your attention span lasts. Going Under still has an aspect of that kind of question and answer gameplay but it only leads to clues to your current “mission” and more missions to take on later down the line, opening up the game further. However the real heart of Going Under is the dungeon crawling combat action. Oh boy, what action! Well I say dungeon crawling but what you’re actually doing is exploring basement offices and taking on the myriad of strange – some might say mutated – staff of old start-up companies who previously resided in the office that Fizzle now work in. And as such that means you have a plethora of office supplies to pick up and beat your opponents with and ANYTHING can become a weapon – from a pencil to a pillow, typewriter to torch; whatever you can grab you can attack people with!

Frankly its that combat that made me fall in love with Going Under. Combat that’s almost absurd in its execution. in fact the entire game is absurd. From the characters – cliches such as the paranoid developer, the office weirdo (in this case the guy who invents the Fizzle flavours), to the idiotic CEO who calls everyone ‘rock star’ – to the bright, almost child-like designs of the building and the characters. But that absurdity makes Going Under so much FUN. Like, play for hours on end despite being stuck on a particular “level”; like playing for hours just to see where this bizarre tale is headed. Like playing the game over and over to experience the procedurally generated game in multiple ways. And I never though I’d say that about ANY dungeon crawler. EVER.

That’s just how good Going Under is. In fact, in my opinion, as someone who usually hates this kind of game, Going Under is a must-buy.

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