Below - Action-Adventure Roguelike by Capybara


Thirst and warmth?


So this is more a survival thing than an exploration thing? I thought it was gonna be like Inside, am I way off?


@kadath, I’d say it’s more exploration than survival, but the latter is definitely in there- I’ve had at least one death from starvation. But there are definitely strategies to mitigate the thirst/hunger thing. I have a theory about the cold, but you don’t need to worry about that until you’re down to level 4.

@Vesper :

  1. I have no idea if they’re more than this, but you trip over them when running, which could make a difference if you’re being chased by something… bigger.
  2. Already answered.
  3. Collect a bunch of motes. Get to the entrance of level 3. And look at the left side of your choices when you sit at a fire. Those should answer your questions.
  4. Not that I’ve seen. But you want to collect as many as possible. I found a room on the third level…

Sorry to be cagey. I had all these questions, too. Just keep playing the game. They get answers. Well, except the tripwire thing.


Well, I’d say I was about an 8.5 before I played it. I like Capybara’s Super Ultra Time Force and I probably would have liked that Brothers game they did if I’d ever played it.

But now that I’ve actually spent some time with Below, I’m at a 7 on the 7-10 hype scale. It looks like a decent survival rogue-like, but I don’t see that it’s doing anything special. If someone discovers otherwise, let me know?

Yep, way off. It’s a survival/exploration find-sticks-to-make-arrows and collect-fox-asses-to-make-soup and save-up-gems-to-unlock-campfires game. Again, maybe something cool and unique happens after you get to a certain level. But after three lives and the first three levels of however deep the dungeon goes, I get the sense I’ve already seen everything it’s going to show me.



OK thanks to you and @Don_Quixote I will wait for a humble sale or something on it.


If I’m ever invited to eat at your place, please don’t serve soup!


I really want to love this a lot - and I do love the aesthetics and audio and presentation overall -
but I’m bouncing kinda hard off the very long action/skill-free preamble when you die.

My first run I made it to level 5 and died on an insta-kill trap that looked like a pole with skulls on it - didn’t know it was a trap at all. Didn’t feel like it was my fault, just a ‘gotcha’.

After death, having to search the beach, climb the cliff, get to the boat graveyard and the stuff there, and basically do the busy-work to get back to the actual ‘start’ of the game feels really punishing and I don’t know that I have the patience for that.

It feels way beyond what other roguelikes and soulslikes ask of you. If there was something to do or some choice to make during that sequence that didn’t feel like just going down a preflight checklist maybe I wouldn’t be so put off by it?

Maybe something changes or unlocks that bypasses that but it’s hard to muster the time to find out, unless someone wants to educate me in a spoiler tag… ?


I haven’t played, just watch somebody stream for a bit. So maybe this isn’t what you mean. But…

IIRC the bonfires can be made into fast travel points with one of the items you collect (crystals? gems? something like that). And that seemed to be persistent across playthroughs.


From what I can read you are not the only one tbaldree. The mix of harsh roguelike, survival aspects, and total lack of information (that enhances the feel of discovery, but at expense of even more deaths until you learn aspects of the game) makes for a frustrating experience, with lots of deaths. Lots of deaths means more repetition, and the combat and randomization aspects aren’t as strong as to allow for that much required replays.


I’ve only gotten as far as exploring most (I think?) of level 3; your impressions are not encouraging, but they’re in line with my slowly growing concerns.

I bought it because hey, why not, Capybera is cool and I don’t mind taking a chance on it. And so I have intentionally done very little reading about the game, so very early on I was entranced by the aesthetics and looking forward to seeing what unfolded. But by level 3 I was starting to wonder if anything would unfold.

I was going to keep going to level 4 and if that still looked like more of the same, my desire to know if this was worth it was going to overtake my curiosity at discovering for myself what the game has to offer. But it sounds like you’re answering that question already, and that’s disappointing.

Has anyone gone farther? Anyone want to let me know if things get more interesting?


We’ve talked about permadeath a lot before here. The key to making it work is that there should be enough interesting gameplay at the start that you’re having fun again immediately.

What jsnell mentioned sounds like they went with more of a progression roguelite design where you do the same stuff but slowly make progress in the metagame.

I don’t plan to play this. I just like to talk about it because I see progression roguelites as a failed design.

Massive Chalice (Double Fine Kickstarter)

I agree. Something like Spelunky is perfect because death is almost an excuse to play again, and you’re having from from the second the new game starts. There is no meta game, except unlocking different skins for the player character (none of them make any gameplay difference), and the more I play games with a meta unlock the more I don’t think I like it.

An example is Dead Cells. I really like Dead Cells, but I feel like from the moment you first play there is a 0% chance you can actually beat the game, you must unlock stuff to have even a chance. And that’s why the meta game is there. But something like Spelunky, or Unexplored, your own ability could theoretically carry you through to the end on your first attempt. I mean, it’s not likely, but the possibility exists. And more and more I think I prefer that approach to rogue like type games with permadeath.

That said, I don’t know if Below actually has a meta game. If you “unlock” something it’s more that you found it, like a set of leather armor, and it’s just existing at that point either on your corpse, or maybe in that limbo place where you can store stuff for future runs. I’m not sure that qualifies as a meta game, per se, but I could be mistaken.


But one could argue that the actual knowledge that one accumulates playing roguelikes was their metagame content, and that the progression system of roguelites is an attempt at a more casual transposition of it.
Personally, like both of you, I dislike that later hand-holding progression, unless it is part of easing off the learning of a very smart game which also vastly rewards the accumulation of knowledge, like it is the case of Desktop Dungeons, Has-been Heroes or Slay the Spire. They also have in common that you can accumulate succesful runs and pursue “deeper” runs, and just don’t ask you to die over and over, which seems to be the case here.


And this is the best kind of rogue like, but I’m not really talking about that as the meta game, I suppose.

When games have a built-in meta game (meaning - you accumulate some sort of currency, like XP or Gold or something, on your runs and spend it to unlock stuff later - like Rogue Legacy) I find that stuff a lot less cool than I had thought I would as the years go by and games come out that use that.

I compare something like Brogue to Rogue Legacy. Brogue is simple, and elegant, and I’ve played it for days. You don’t have a character class, you just accumulate loot and player knowledge while you play, and when you die it’s a joy to start over again.

But compared to Rogue Legacy, I played for like 2 hours and got really annoyed with the feeling that if I didn’t unlock stuff I’d never get out of the early areas of the game. Drives me crazy.

(EDIT: Sorry, this is wildly off topic, just something I’ve been thinking about, I think Dead Cells was the game that really put this idea in my head).


So it sounds like Below is kinda like a vertical Don’t Starve?


Sort of - but with more persistence. In Don’t Starve death means starting completely over, while in this you do start completely over, but you’ve hopefully unlocked some shortcuts to get deeper into the dungeon faster, and if you find your previous corpse you can collect your stuff (in theory, I’ve only died once and still haven’t found my corpse).

The idea the game would let me cut right down to level 4 makes me think you don’t ever really get more “powerful” in terms of weapons or equipment, which is kind of a bummer. Maybe I’m wrong about that.

E: I should also mention the crafting here is really lite and not the central element to the game, like it is in Don’t Starve.


Not quite what I meant. My understanding is that they’ve built in mechanisms to skip over any parts of the game you’ve already played through (the fast travel) and regaining other forms of progress with a little bit more effort (the corpse runs). So it’s not really a metagame grind, but just death being a bit of an inconvenience. Perma-death with no penalty.

But that was just my impression from watching some streams, I could be totally wrong about it!


Fair enough. I could be ranting about nothing in this case. Don’t listen to me!


I don’t usually go to Polygon for reviews; I don’t have a solid sense of how the taste of their writers aligns with mine. But I did read this review, and I think just what I can gather objectively about the rest of the game has killed what little curiosity I had for seeing what’s past level three. Oh well. I don’t think anyone will be talking about Below again for any reason in a month.


Maybe not… except for all those piles of GOTY awards and accolades!