Going Under Review

Going Under is a roguelite action game from Aggro Crab Games, published by Team17. It will surprise you with it’s fun creativity and keep you with it’s charm and humour. Going Under is frantic, funny and full of character. There are few issues to take away from this experience, and it’s one that deserves to be played.

In Going Under, you play as an intern hired at a recent start-up company. The boss quickly tasks you with exploring dungeons underneath the company office. Those dungeons house the remains of other failed start-up companies… and lots of wacky monsters. You’ll find everything from devilish minions in a kinky lair to skeletal cryptocurrency miners. There are three different dungeons to explore, each with it’s own unique theme. All of this is connected by Fizzle, the funky start-up which employs player-character Jacqueline.

Going Under is fuelled by creative design. The art design, the music, the combat systems, the weapons you use – it’s all incredibly simple and forms one fantastic package of creative simplicity.

Art Design

Going Under has a distinctively 80’s style, with bright colours filling the screen at every opportunity. Despite the minimalist simplicity, the various characters, enemies, objects and dungeons have very distinct looks and feels. The art-style is simple, yet makes everything seem full of character, proving how effective it is.

Music

Soundtracks always play an important role in the best games, and Going Under is no different. The relaxing tunes playing in the background make every single moment in the Fizzle hub world a delight. Venture into one of the dungeons and you’ll be met with funky 80’s vibes that’ll have you bopping along in no time. It’s really one of the best parts of the game, and had me constantly smiling as I nodded my head to each and every track.

Combat System

Going Under’s combat system is the perfect analogy for this idea of simple-yet-creative. Almost every mundane object found in these start-up companies is a weapon – from the pencils to the laptops to the weird stone heads, almost everything can be picked up and swung or thrown at an enemy. These objects all have a very limited durability, so you’ll often find yourself scrabbling for the next best thing. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and find an all-powerful hockey stick. Sometimes you might be stuck with a foam hand. No matter what, you’ll certainly be entertained whilst fighting off the groups of enemies.

This makes the combat incredibly simple, yet constantly engaging. You never know what you’ll be using next, and this experimentation allows you to find fun new ways to kill the monsters at every turn. Although it is simple, Going Under’s combat certainly isn’t boring as every dungeon has a unique set of items to bash your enemies with. It’s a joy exploring them to see what you’ll find.

A Fresh Experience

Going Under doesn’t have you running through the same environment over and over again to progress. You’ll unlock most of the dungeons early on, and then it’s up to you which one you run through next. This open design to facing the games many challenges allows you to tailor it to you – if one dungeon is growing tiresome or stale, switch to another one. Everything from the enemies you face to the weapons you use will change and it’ll keep you entertained and coming back for more.

Of course, there are some things that never change. In the dungeons you’ll find power-ups. These stack to make you grow more powerful over that specific run. Although seemingly limited at first, there’s actually a wide range of different power-ups to find throughout the dungeons. As you play you will earn points to unlock new power-ups, which will then randomly spawn in the dungeons. Variety is always necessary to make a game entertaining past the initial few hours, and Going Under excels in making every run feel similar yet unique.

Difficulty

Don’t be fooled by Going Under’s vibrant visuals and quirky style. You don’t want to lower your guard, because this game will beat you down faster than you’ll expect. By making each weapon fairly fragile, the developers ensure you are always scrambling for a new weapon. This makes every encounter a decent challenge, because you never know what you might be using next. A sledgehammer might let you dominate for a moment, but when it breaks you might be stuck with nothing but a slow, flimsy office chair. Shockingly, they aren’t the best weapons.

If the difficulty purely relied on the random weapons you grab, it would feel very unfair. Luckily, almost every room in the dungeons will give you something decent to use – you just might have to get creative to find it. For example, a great weapon might be on a shelf just out of reach. Making some space between you and your enemies might give you chance to knock it down and turn the battle in your favour.

Enemy variety is another aspect that can make each dungeon feel like a frantic challenge. Some will charge you with their melee weapons, some will throw grenades, some will even hop in a car and run you over. You need to be ready to react to anything, because if you’re too slow it might be too late and you’ll be sent back to the Fizzle office a failure. If you’re lucky enough to make it to the bosses, then you’re in for a real challenge. Each boss has a unique look and attack pattern and are really entertaining to battle. However. these can often prove a little too much as there’s no way to prepare. This will likely leave you angry a few times before you finally get lucky and manage to win the fight.

Progression

Roguelites aren’t typically known for their progression systems. Usually, you’ll find yourself facing each run with very few upgrades. In Going Under, there are small ways to progress that lean into this idea of unique differences between each run. They do make you a little stronger too, but generally they just give you more ways to kill your opponents.

Power-ups are necessary to win when running through a dungeon. Find the same power-ups and use them repeatedly to level them up. Once you’ve done this, you’ll be able to equip them at the start of your run. This contributes to that feeling of every run being unique. Sometimes you can start with big boxing gloves to improve your punching damage, or other times you could be dropping a bomb every time you dodge roll.

Going Under features many friendly characters which can actually be applied as mentors. You can only have one mentor equipped at a time, and each gives you different abilities. For example, Fern the Flavourist gives you cans of Fizzle to use as weapons, whilst Ray the business owner gives you his company card, allowing you to buy whatever you want at the various dungeon shops. You can increase your mentor level to unlock higher tiers of bonuses, which gives the game a steady sense of progression. The different mentor abilities significantly alter your focus whilst playing and are funny, unique ways to tweak the gameplay. This is far better than just raising the damage number on a sword, as it makes every run feel different in substantial ways.

Quirky Characters

Speaking of mentors, Going Under has a great group of well-written characters. Between the challenging dungeons, Jackie can hang out in the Fizzle Office and talk to her various colleagues. Every one of these conversations is a delight, filled with digs at the Silicon Valley-style corporate life. Each character has their own personality and sense of humour, and it’s a joy walking through the office and seeing what they have to say, whether it’s a subtle joke or a hilarious outburst. Aggro Crab have done a great job developing this fantastic cast of quirky characters. As frustrating as it can be to die in a dungeon, I’m always eager to get back to the office and see what the other employees have to say. Instead of a dull run back to the dungeon, each death in Going Under leads to hilarious new insights into these characters’ jobs and relationships.

Going Under Review Verdict

Going Under is a hilarious, refreshing take on the roguelite genre. It’s fuelled by creativity and it shows in every aspect of the game. The simple yet stylish visuals, the fantastic soundtrack, the varied, crazy combat. Every part of this game has been perfectly designed to create a consistently fun adventure mocking the world of failed Silicon Valley start-ups. Although it can often be a challenge, Aggro Crab have ensured every second of this game is a delight by delivering a bunch of characters with funny personalities. Boss fights can generally prove a bit too hard, but there aren’t any other negatives to this game. Going Under is a unique gem amongst the roguelite genre that deserves to be tried by all, offering frantic, varied action and a refreshing sense of humour.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Going Under is available now on PC, PS4, Xbox One and Switch for £15.99/$19.99. Let me know what you think of the game in the comments or on my social media!

Looking for more on the latest games? Check out my Battletoads review here. For all the latest news make sure to stay tuned to The Games Freak! You can subscribe to the mailing list to get every post delivered straight to your inbox!

This game was reviewed on PC with a code provided by the developer.

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