Video games are often tools to escape life; a portal to a new world. It’s easy to imagine yourself as the character you’re controlling. You could be a superhero or a super soldier, the sky is the limit. Going Under lets me finally experience being what I’ve been waiting years for: unpaid internship.
This is an extension of my short YouTube review.
Going Under is a dungeon crawler third-person hack-n-slash roguelite developed by Aggro Crab. It released on Steam in September 2020. You play as Jackie, an unpaid intern in a dystopian city. There are monsters under your office, and you’re sent to cull them. Your weapon choices include potted plants, brooms, laptops, and my favorite, body pillows? I’d like to bring a body pillow to work, to beat up the little monsters around me, though I don’t suppose that’d go smoothly in a school.
I was LOLing the Whole Time!
Going Under is a wonderful satire about workplace ethics, tech start-ups, millennial culture, and unpaid internships. The art style is a 3d rendition of that corporate art style nobody likes. Skills are buzzwords like “Room for Growth” and “Good Under Pressure”. The dungeons are failed start-ups, and the monsters are employees. It is executed perfectly! I was laughing frequently, the entire concept was just so charming. And the characters are full of personality. Swomp and Kara are my favorites to talk to.
And, most importantly: you can pet the dog.
24/7 Hip-Hop Beats to Smash Goblin Face to
The art style, while reminding me of that over-used corporate art style I’m tired of seeing, is also an essential part to fulfilling that corporate aesthetic. The environments are good, and the colors very vibrant. What I love most was the weapons and items, they make generally bland objects interesting. The enemies each had a neat little look, and there is good variation among the different dungeons. Of course, the emoji-based dating app, winkydink, is my favorite. It is not because of the shopkeeper Lilith, or the fact that I can beat up demons with a body pillow. It is for a different reason, I promise.
The music is incredible. Nearly every song is a jam, and the boss music is even better. I might just have to purchase the soundtrack. The sound effects are fairly average, I’m unimpressed with the grunt of goblins after smacking them.
Oh boy, puppeht’s going to talk about variety again. How exciting. Listen! Variety is something I highly value in roguelites. Going Under stands in the middle. There are lots of different skills available, and the mentors also let you spice up your run. There’s a decent selection of weapons to use, but I really found myself using the same couple of weapons over and over. Each separate dungeon is unique, but the individual dungeon runs feel same-y. There’s only a few different enemies in each dungeon, and the rooms aren’t anything special. Overall I’m unimpressed with the replay value.
While I’m not impressed with the variety, I am impressed with how progression is handled. There are lots of different progression elements: skills to unlock, mentors to level up, extra hearts to gain, business cards to collect. But none of the progression elements feel over-powered either, just a different way to play. And that’s how I think meta-progression is best used: similar difficulty, new options.
Combat Could use a Training Sesh
It’s a little ironic that the part of the game I least enjoyed was the combat. I know that many people would think that if a game doesn’t have good combat or general mechanics, it’s not good. I think they’re wrong, because Going Under is incredible, and I found the combat pretty uninteresting. It requires a lot of patience and mental fortitude. I could generally avoid damage, but when I did get hit, I would often get hit multiple times after that because the invulnerability time is quite low. And most of the attack animations were very slow, meaning I would get hit whenever I swung thinking I would cancel their attack by hitting first. I’m sure thematically it makes sense because you’re swinging laptops around, but it wasn’t fun. And there were some frustrating hits taken due to weird camera and player movement.
I’m not personally someone to complain about “difficulty” in video games. I’m not the greatest gamer, but I can handle most games. Yes, the game is difficult. If you’re not someone who likes to try a level 5-10 times before beating it, the game may not be for you. I don’t mean to be rude just making a suggestion. Because frankly, the combat issues make losing very frustrating, and I don’t want to spend 5-10 times dying in a frustrating manner. There is an assist mode, which buffs you up a bit to make it easier. But I imagine most roguelite fans can figure this out one just fine.
From the humor to the beats, Going Under is incredible. As much as I dragged on the combat, it’s entirely made up by literally everything else in the game. I’ll simplify by stating this: if you enjoyed Hades, you’ll enjoy Going Under. And frankly, you’re out of your mind if you didn’t enjoy Hades.
+ Incredible aesthetic and theme
+ Jams for days
– Some combat issues