dark        

I've seen Below twice now, and I still have no idea what to expect

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Probably by design

Maybe my Bad Journalist seams are showing a bit here, but I cannot pin down exactly what I think Below is. When I saw it at PAX East in 2014, it looked Dark Souls-esque in both combat style and its unforgiving nature. Despite writing a lengthy preview, I was uncertain as to what it really was.

Having seen it again -- this time at GDC last week -- I'm still unsure about it. In fact, I'm possibly more unsure than I was two years ago. All I know is that I want to sit in a dark living room with the final build, and I want to do that as soon as possible.

Talking with Capy creative director Kris Piotrowski did little to enlighten me. He re-explained Below's systems to me (one hit point, slow bleeding out, need to heal or cauterize the wound, respawn as an ancestor), but none of that truly feels like what Below is at its very core. That all feels like a smattering of bullet points on a useless fact sheet.

No, Below is about the shroud of mystery, and the player gradually shining a light on that. Working their way ever-downward, there's something to uncover -- whether that be a monster, a philosophical meaning, or the Fountain of Youth. (Ponce de Leon is going to be mad jealous if it's the Fountain of Youth.) Piotrowski already dispelled my theory that you're going to hell, so don't lean on that.

In all parts of the game, Below relies on the unknown and the process of discovery. There are no text boxes or dialogue for guidance. Instead, it's trial and error -- testing things out to see what works and what doesn't. At one point, Piotrowski showed me how to make soup; I have no idea what the soup did or how the various ingredients affect the soup, but it was made and consumed, presumably to my benefit.

The one glaring correction that Piotrowski had from my previous assumption was that Below isn't necessarily Spelunky or Dark Souls levels of difficult. He likened it to Zelda in a lot of ways and commented that it's more accessible than those other games are. It seems as if those who are dedicated to unraveling what Below has to offer won't be held back entirely by lack of skill as long as the desire to proceed is persistent.

Our other talking point was a less comfortable one. Nearing three years since the initial reveal, people were starting to loudly wonder why this isn't finished yet. Capy just recently announced that it's launching this summer. Piotrowski was in no hurry to apologize. "That's how long it's taken," he plainly said. Apparently Below is releasing in the coming months less because it needs to release soon and more because it's ready to release as Capy feels it's done.

Leaving my appointment with Piotrowski, I felt hardly any wiser about exactly what Below actually is. That's because Capy doesn't want me to know until the game's out and I can move through it at my own pace. As a reporter, that's frustrating; but, as a player, that's exciting as all hell.

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Brett Makedonski
Brett MakedonskiManaging Editor   gamer profile

While you laughing, we're passing, passing away. So y'all go rest y'all souls, 'Cause I know I'ma meet you up at the crossroads. Y'all know y'all forever got love from them Bone Thugs baby... ... more + disclosures


 




 


Also on destructoid: Below   (11)   From our database:

  • Below delayed again, no new date given - Brett Makedonski
  • I'm not sure about Below, but it's pretty - Jed Whitaker
  • I've seen Below twice now, and I still have no idea what to expect - Brett Makedonski
  • Capybara Games' Below drops in this summer - Ben Davis
  • Microsoft summarises biggest 2016 'exclusives,' including Below and Cuphead - Vikki Blake
  • Capybara Games' Below delayed into 2016 - Kyle MacGregor Burleson
  • Dear Below, I need you in my life now please - Hamza CTZ Aziz
  • Below is a hardcore game that you'll want to take your time with - Brett Makedonski
  • Yup, Capy is also bringing Below to Steam - Jordan Devore
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    Filed under... #capybara #GDC #Indie #PC #Previews #roguelike #Xbox One

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