Available on Xbox One (tested) and PC
Below release date: TBC 2015
Announced way back at E3 2013, you might not have heard much about Below, a brand-new indie game coming to Xbox One and PC hopefully by the end of the year.
It's the latest title from Capybara Games, which is the development studio responsible for the likes of Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes, Superbrothers Sword and Sorcery EP, and the the most recent Super Time Force.
Below is a survival exploration game with a stunning top-down style that makes the game's hero look absolutely tiny. The world takes over the screen, while your explorer is only a dot moving around in the dark. This beautiful game highlights how vulnerable your hero is, dwarfed by rock formations, dogged by enemies and perplexed by strange architecture.
Through dark tones, clever shadows and the fact you can only see a small section of the world, Capybara heightens the sense of scale even more.
Below is very minimalist in terms of plot too. All you know is that you're an explorer who must investigate underground caverns, but you don't know why or what you're looking for in this unknown dungeon. You must also enter through a door within an unusual mountain sitting on an equally strange island.
Similar to other survival games like Don't Starve, you're looking at permadeath in Below. Once you die in the game, you'll loose that explorer forever and have to start afresh wtih a brand-new character. And although it seems like you're venturing into the caverns several years later, you'll be able to collect any non-perishable loot from your previous self's body as you come across it.
Death can come quickly in Below too. A small stab from an enemy can cause you to start bleeding, which if you don't tend to it quickly with a plaster or eating something to stop the bleed and regenerate some health, you will die.
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The game features what Capybara is calling an entry-level crafting system. Similar to other survival games we've played – we're looking at you, Dark Souls – you can craft new items such as soups at camp fires you come across during your explorations. Your intrepid traveller has a variety of items on him from the start, including bottles that you can collect water in along the way.
You may also find new weapons and gear. I found a bow and set of arrows abandoned under a waterfall, for example, which I could use to take out enemies from afar.
You'll also have to watch out for the traps hidden around the world. I was legging it away from some monsters while I was bleeding out and stumbled over a hidden tripwire. Apparently this is a very basic trap and things will get a lot more complex and dangerous as you move from room to room.
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What's also great about Below is that the world is procedurally generated, which means every time you play you'll get a completely different adventure. I'm not sure how that works when it comes to finding your corpse, but it will certainly be a reason to come back time and again.
What also hasn't been detailed is the save system. I hope that you'll be able to save your adventure mid-game if you happen to have a great game going, just as you can in Don't Starve.
I love the art style and gameplay of Below, and it's shaping up to be one of my favourite upcoming games for the Xbox One. Hopefully it'll be released by the end of the year and I can start exploring.