Howdy and welcome to our most panicky review ever.

Apparently the authorities of this or that country (the Indie Skunk does not allow us to know where the Skunk Tower is located “for security reasons”) finally noticed that Our Master has not paid taxes during the last “bazillion years” (we are quoting Its Stinkiness) and now Its minions should write “many more” reviews before “they come with the guns”.

If you think that’s confusing, dear follower, it is probably because you do know in which country you are.

Also you don’t need the SSS (Skunk Stealth Satellite, which by the way has a lot of issues connecting to the Internet) in order to read this.

Like normal people do.

With that out of the way, we hope our transmission of this review of BELOW by Capybara Games reaches you before “they come with the guns”.

Never join a cult. Specially if the leader is such a drama queen.

Descend into darknessThe world

The opening sequence of BELOW is the definition of “a statement of intent”. It tells us what to expect of the game, both regarding its cryptic, purely visual narrative and the pace of the gameplay.

A lonely sailboat commanded by a lonely wanderer navigates a storm. Slowly and ominously, it reaches The Isle, the isolated and forsaken place where our adventure will take place.

The wanderer, our character, is tiny in relation to the hostile world that surrounds us. The pseudo-isometric view helps to reinforce the sense of danger and also allows us to see parts of the map that, perhaps, we may be able to reach during our descent into darkness.

This darkness, one of the main antagonists of our wanderer, is sustained by a beautiful graphic design and gorgeous lighting, and punctuated by a magnificent OST by Jim Guthrie.

BELOW is a game that should be played in a dark room (with headphones) in order to be fully immersed in its wonderfully crafted, atmospheric world.

Zero hand-holdingThe gameplay

This minion mentioned before the purely visual narrative of BELOW. Don’t expect a sigle explanation of what’s going on, it is up to the player to figure out what’s happening. The only clear indication is in the title of the game: we must go below, into The Depths of The Isle.

This extends to the gameplay itself. There is no tutorial and only a couple of hints regarding a lantern (that we must find first, that is easy enough) that is key in order to progress through the different levels of The Depths.

It is up to the player, once again, to figure out the mechanics of the game regarding the combat, the crafting of certain tools, meals and potions (that will help us considerably during our adventure) and how to face the cold that will freeze us to death in certain levels of The Depths. Also we will need to discover by ourselves the best way to navigate the darkness and avoid the traps that are waiting for us.

This minion strongly recommends new players to play the Explore mode before considering the Survive one. This Survive mode adds more difficulty to a game that is already difficult enoughSome traps become lethal and we will need to eat and drink in order to avoid starvation and dehydration.

Both the combat and the death mechanics can classify the game as a souls-like.

Our wanderer can use several weapons (we start each run with a bow and sword and shield and we’ll be able to find others) and the melee combat allows us to dash, block and execute other actions like parrying and charging strong attacks, depending on what we have equipped.

And, when our wanderer dies, a new one will appear and we will have one chance to recover the gear of the last one. This includes our lantern, which is the only thing that we will be able to retrieve if our new wanderer fails to recover the possessions of the previous one.

Every time our wanderer dies, the next one will appear at the beginning, so it is also important to unlock as many short-cuts as possible. It also helps that many items will respawnBut also will our enemies.

BELOW has, in conclusion, a really steep learning curve. Is it worth it though? This minion believes it definitely is.

Not for everyoneOpinion rhymes with minion

Most of the negative reviews of BELOW on its Steam page have to do, precisely, with the details about its world and gameplay that I mentioned before: Its cryptic narrative, overwhelming difficulty and zero hand-holding.

Yet most reviews are positive. This minion has not read them all, of course, but the general feeling is that many players (yours truly included) do appreciate those details. They definitely make BELOW stand out among other similar games.

There is, obviously, nothing casual about this game. It demands time investment, focus and will always keep you on your toes.

Personally, it reminds this minion of The Long Dark. Both games have a steep learning curve that makes them, if anything, more satisfying the longer I manage to survive and progress within their respective worlds.

I can’t wait to finish this review and go back BELOW.

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for more tax evasion and poor connection of the SSS. Also for more reviews of the most amazing indie games.

Hail the Indie Skunk!

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