Going Under is a really, really, bizarre game, but that’s fine – especially since it just so happens to be a brilliantly addictive one too.
It’s not easy being an intern, right? Thrust into an environment where you’re the newbie who is eager to try and impress their colleagues at any given opportunity… it’s high pressure stuff. Well, Going Under puts you in the role of an intern named Jackie who is just starting her first day at a company named Fizzle. She’s also given a doozy of a first task, too: to kill the monsters that are lurking in the dungeons under the building that are themed around failed start-ups. I told you the game was bizarre…
Those dungeons you explore are made up of multiple rooms, with each housing an array of colourful enemies to beat up and hazards to avoid. A lot of those enemies are your typical monsters you’d expect to find in a dungeon-crawling rogue-like, though they do have a vibrant millienial-ish twist that feels more befitting of the game’s anarchic vibe. Each will attack you in different ways though, so you’ve got to beat them to the punch and use everything around you to bash them up.
I quite literally mean everything too. Going Under doesn’t do things in half measures, with just about every object you see in the environment able to be used as a weapon. See a cactus? Jam it in an enemy’s face. Giant pencil on the table? Ram it down their throats. Nobody sitting in that chair? Launch it at your enemies. Yeah, the game is full to the brim with office-based objects that you’ll now use as makeshift weapons, with each of them effective at taking out your enemies. As mentioned, each dungeon is based around a different failed start up, so can also expect weapons unique to their theme… I’ll leave you discover some of those yourself, though.
Weapons obviously don’t last too long when you’re breaking them over an enemy’s skull, so there’s a lot of swapping around and scouring the environment for something new to use as a tool of destruction – this is where Going Under’s almost combo-like brilliance comes in. I felt like I was constantly moving around, grabbing weapons, and attacking foes, with no time to really rest and most time spent picking up something new and whacking an enemy with it or launching it at a foe just out of reach. It’s non-stop hectic action, and honestly, it works brilliantly in-game. You can actually carry up to three items at a time though, so there will be moments where you might want to stop and think which work best for you or what might suit particular situations, especially when you’re facing off against the excellent end of dungeon boss battles. With so much variety though, there’s PLENTY of room for satisfying experimentation.
As you progress, you’ll get additional assistance by having one of your colleagues become a ‘mentor’, which essentially gives Jackie an array of different buffs to help her out whilst clearing dungeons. Each mentor brings with them different benefits and you’ll often have to complete side-missions before you gain access to them – some of these could actually be a bit of a pain in the ass to complete whilst others were particularly creative and challenge players to approach dungeons in a very specific way. Either way, they add some additional replayability to the dungeons so they were mostly an appreciated addition.
You’ll also gain access to new skills as you traverse through each dungeon, whilst the shops you encounter will give you a good means to spend the currency you earn. It’s never JUST about beating up enemies when going through dungeons and there are some moments of solace where you’ll just get to spend cash or interact with another character, which does add a little extra variety to the experience. There are also plenty of interactions to be shared outside of the dungeon-crawling too, some of which are (to follow the theme of the game) really weird… in a good way, of course. There’s just a whole lot of personality to the game, whether it’s when beating up baddies, improving your own capabilities, or interacting with your colleagues at Fizzle.
The aforementioned brilliant combat and satisfying aspects of progression go a long way in making Going Under feel great to play, but it does have some flaws. It is a shame that there aren’t more variations on start ups to tackle in dungeons for example. Whilst the selection of three is neat, I’d have loved to have seen a few more options in place – especially since their design can grow a little repetitive over repeated playthroughs, even with the difficulty twist that the game throws your way.
If I was going to be really fussy, the camera could also be a bit awkward on occasions. Thankfully, those occasions are few and far between, but it was still a bit annoying when I got caught out by an enemy’s attack or an environmental hazard just because the camera didn’t catch the action.
I can’t end this review without mentioning Going Under’s visuals, which look absolutely bedazzling throughout. I mean, just look at the screenshots… it looks insane. Every inch of the game is jam-packed with creativity and vibrant colours, whilst the fact that it looks and plays smoothly on both the Nintendo Switch’s docked and handheld modes is a big plus too. The aesthetic is just absolutely on point throughout, with Going Under’s zany vibes matched by its bursts of colour.
Going Under is a rogue-like dungeon-crawling treat, with its brilliant combat brought to life by a wacky world that’s full to the brim with vibrancy. It was just a real joy to play, with the chaotic combat keeping each dungeon-run feeling fresh and frantic – even if there were some moments of repetition in the mix thanks to the low number of dungeons in the game.
If you’re a fan of rogue-like dungeon crawling and like your games a bit… well… weird, you will really, really, REALLY want to give Going Under a playthrough.
Publisher: Team 17
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC