Going Under, the most recent game published by Team17 and the first developed by Aggro Crab, takes dungeon crawling to an energy drink company in a fictitious Pacific Northwest U.S. city. You play as a Jacqueline, an eager marketing intern tasked with defeating the hordes of monsters in the various dungeons that sit under the company. The game pairs humorous accounts of being an unpaid intern with fun, dynamic gameplay. Last week, the game released on the Nintendo Switch.
Plenty of great technological and start-up jargon runs through the dialogue of the game. Various meetings between your dungeon-missions occur, bringing out the best in the different characters. The company, Fizzle, is an energy drink company that has meal replacement drinks.
There is plenty to like about this game. It is witty and unique through it’s story and humour. The gameplay is chaotic and can get a little annoying and hard to control when navigating the office-style dungeons. This is what makes the game unique and challenging, though.
Each dungeon is a different type of failed app where the developers have become monsters. Apps are also features when you are in the dungeons for powerups and such. There is a bit of a learning curve as to what powerups and “skills” you can learn that can later be endorsed.
Honestly, there are some very difficult aspects to the game when you first pick it up. You can only get hit six times in a dungeon run if you don’t heal on pricey items or get lucky that a food item is dropped by a random monster you kill. Essentially, if you are cornered once, you are done for. There are bombs that will explode almost instantaneously, killing you after you already clear a room. It is a very frustrating game at the start.
But like any game, you start to pick up on some things, and it gets a little more bearable, yet this isn’t a very long game, either, so once you start to run through the dungeons, you feel closer and closer to the end of it. This also means it is very easy to just get frustrated and stay frustrated through most of it.
Then again, there is a lot about this game that makes me want to come back to it, as frustrated as it may be. The art style is amazing. The little items, the detail of the dungeon spaces and the novelty of each item are all wonderful. You can pick up a keyboard, swing it at a goblin, dodge over to a corner, pick up a coffee mug and smack another goblin with that. Who doesn’t love that?
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Yet there do seem to be problems with hitboxes, like characters hitting you when you don’t think you are in their zones. It can get inconsistent and annoying. The levels are very cluttered and take a while to learn how to maneuver around, but still, there is just so much stuff in the way. The fighting mechanics just don’t feel very smooth.
Although there is also variety in the dungeons, each run sees different layouts, different rooms and different types of items in each room. This makes each run rewarding and mitigates the frustrations that come from playing a tough dungeon game. On top of all that is the witty writing and character design.
What is nice is that the game is a bit more vast than what you might expect. The level runs coincide with meetings with Fizzle staff where a little more of the heart of the game comes out. This means the game isn’t a linear story, rather it just cuts in and out of the story with gameplay.
Some of the features are pretty great in the dungeons. The level design is just so cute and so intriguing. The game has three save files as well, so you can do different things on each. One fun feature is being able to assign yourself a mentor, which is another one of those elements that spoofs internship life.
The life of an unpaid intern is pretty gruesome already. Add hordes of goblins you have to defeat, a nagging project manager, coworkers with clashing personalities, and a very odd Amazon-esque parent company. In Going Under, there is a lot to do, and a lot to smash. Overall, the game has it’s problems as well as plenty of strengths that make you want to come back over and over again. For just $20, there is enough to do to make it worthwhile.