When Capybara Games first announced Below at Microsoft’s E3 2013 media conference last June, many gamers and analysts alike left the show eager to learn more about what this mysterious adventure game had to offer. Upon first glance, most critics instantly compared the look and feel of the game to the successful 2012 PlayStation exclusive title Journey. In actuality, Below is far more deeper then that and will easily be one of the most talked about adventure games once it finally launches later this year.
During PAX East 2014, I had the rare opportunity to play Below for the very first time on the showroom floor. Here are a few of my thoughts on the game and why you absolutely don’t want to miss out on this one.
On the surface, the concept behind Below is both simple and engagingly complex at the same time. This top-down perspective adventure game doubles as a dungeon crawler and makes exploration the key focal point of the overall gameplay experience. Players take on the role of a tiny unknown warrior that constantly tests the limits of survival by navigating throughout a remote island. This game was essentially designed to be difficult thanks in part to the brutal combat system and permanent death aesthetics.
Once I started my initial playthrough of the demo, I immediately gained a dramatic sense of the size and scope of the overall setting when compared to the minuscule character. The beautifully designed environments are randomly generated when traveling from one dungeon to the next. This particular mechanic is impressive because it adds an element of uncertainty to virtually every encounter.
While Capybara has already emphasized that there won’t be many enemy encounters throughout the entire game, we will instead be getting several puzzles and dangerous obstacles to overcome. In addition to all this, I briefly got a glimpse of the item menu system where health can be stored and used accordingly when needed. It is worth noting that there is still plenty of information that we don’t know yet about Below, but I expect all of that to change sooner rather than later.
If I could describe what Below is to the average person, I would call it a mix between Zelda and Dark Souls. The main difference here is that there is no damsel in distress to rescue, and therefore the story is focused squarely on the warrior himself. The team stated that they started working on this game 5 years ago and decided to get more ambitious with it after seeing how successful Demon Souls was. From what little I did play, I’m happy to report that they are on to something special and pretty soon everyone in the world will know it too.
Below officially debuts on both the Xbox One and PC later this year. Are any of you anxious to tryout this game? Please feel free to let us know in the comments section below.