Below is the latest product from Capybara Games, which premiered at E3 last year. It’s been pretty hush-hush since it was first revealed, but PAX East was the first time it’s been playable, and I got to see just what Capy’s been cooking.
Right off the bat, I was thrown into the gorgeous world of Below, which takes on the minimalist style, with a very drawn out camera. It reminded me a lot of The Legend of Zelda in it’s camera style, in that it was pulled back, much like A Link to the Past or Link Between Worlds. The rep from Capy told me to just explore and take it at my own pace.
I had multiple paths to explore with absolutely no idea of really what to do. The demo started me on a beach, and as I looked around, the world actually began to reveal itself in a fog-of-war style. As I traveled through the different screens, the black and unknown would become visible and dim through the darkness.
I was equipped with a sword and shield, which again, played out much like a Zelda game. As I dug into the caves, the idea of Dark Souls creeped into the back of my head. It felt just like hitting Majula in Dark Souls II, where I had multiple paths, many choices, and absolutely zero guidance. The significant difference here was that no NPCs were around to keep me company, just the darkness and the eerie but beautiful music.
Much like Dark Souls and the original Zelda before it, I learned slowly as I dug into the caves. I even hit a bonfire towards the cave entrance which served as my checkpoint and the area I respawned from for the rest of the demo. The Capy rep told me that though the bonfire served as my checkpoint for this demo, that may not be the case in the final game. He also let me know that the bonfires serve as points where, “more options are available to you,” which I assume means new options for crafting or weapons.
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Death was also something that served a unique purpose, and played a bit into the rogue-like elements in the game. I died, and as the Capy rep told me, I took on the journey of a new adventurer instead of just respawning. Once I managed to find a skeleton of an adventurer of the past, and recovered what gear or assorted items I lost, but only once. The world was constantly changing, and every cave was procedurally generated every time I died, but in more subtle ways than something like Spelunky. It was confusing and mysterious, but I never felt deterred to avoid adventure.
Below is beautiful and full of mystery. In the trailer released today, it was announced that Below is not only coming to Xbox One, but also Steam. There is no date yet, but stay tuned to IrrationalPassions.com for more info as soon as we know it.