A look into the survival mechanics that will make this nightmare adventure just that little bit harder.
Capybara Games may be looking for ways to present an accessible roguelike to the world with Below, but that doesn’t mean it won’t still be filled with controller hurtling instances of savagery. The game offers little in the way of direction, hints, or tutorials; it’s up to you to work out what you’re doing and the most efficient way of doing it. You’ll need to learn fast too, because it certainly isn’t messing around. Death will come fast and often in Below. Usually that’ll arrive courtesy of the traps hidden in shadow, spiky death pits that’ll kill you in an instant, or via the swarming monsters that are drawn to the power of the lantern. But of course, you’ll also have far more human concerns to tend to as well – Below wouldn’t be a roguelike if it didn’t feature a handful of punishing survival mechanics. “The health system is, basically, you have this heart, which is filled with blood. But tethered to that little heart is your hunger, your thirst, and temperature – you’re always under the pressure of running out of food, running out of water, or freezing to death. They are the consequences of walking around in total darkness,” Below’s lead designer Kris Piotrowski tells us. As we were quick to discover, you’ll stumble upon resources during your time in the caverns that can be used to top up these vital metrics. You can drink water from streams and even store it in bottles; you can pick up food which can be later used at the bonfires scattered between each level of depth to craft soups (the game’s version of potions) or into edible treats to carry around in your small backpack for later. The idea, says Piotrowski, is that you’ll need to use the earlier levels to gather these mission critical items as the game only gets tougher the further down you venture. “The top part of the world is the most resource-heavy. As you get deeper and deeper into the world, the world becomes darker; the world becomes colder, and the resources become harder and harder to find. So those [survival] aspects come into play more and more so.” If worrying about water, food and warmth weren’t enough, Below also happens to tie some pretty gnarly survival systems into its combat too. “A lot of enemies cause bleeding when they hit you. Some may cause a little bit, but some may cause critical bleed, which means basically you’re gonna die unless you stop it. There’s a bunch of different ways to deal with bleeding, you can craft bandages, you can create potions that can just boost your health, and you can get gear that can make you more defensive,” Piotrowski continues. “You can also cauterize Rambo-style; quickly put your sword in some fire and then just cauterize the wound… those are just some of survival elements that you have to deal with, outside of just becoming a good player – like becoming good at combat, learning your way around the world, and understanding how crafting works.”