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First days on the job are hard, unnerving and confusing as you get introduced to all your new co-workers and immediately forget their names. Not to mention navigating the minefield that is the shared kitchen and making sure you pick a spare mug and not Maureen’s prized kitten covered coffee chalice.
You play as the incredibly named unpaid marketing intern Jacqueline Fiasco, who joins the Fizzle beverage company which specialises in a range of intriguingly flavoured (and sometimes highly explosive) meal replacement drinks. The only thing you’ll be promoting however is a sharpened golden protractor up the butt of a skeletal miner enslaved by a morally bankrupt cryptocurrency organisation.
All while the shadowy presence of mega-corporation Cubicle looms large.
Going Under is a self-styled satirical dungeon crawler about exploring the cursed ruins of failed tech start-ups, and once a business fails in the dystopian city of Neo-Cascadia they sink beneath the earth, and their employees are cursed to wander the halls for eternity as monsters. It’s your job as the new girl to put these monsters out of their misery and repossess their assets, while uncovering the true motives of your employer.
There are 3 dungeons to explore from Fizzle HQ. Joblin is a recruitment agency almost entirely run on caffeine powered goblins, Winkydink is the home of a saucy dating app which is very literally on fire and Styxcoin is a subterranean cryptocurrency business where what’s yours is mined. While each of these dungeons are procedurally generated and you’ll never experience the same layout or weapon selection, they are each structured around four floors which you’ll make your way down to fight the inevitable BOSS.
These bosses are bosses in every sense of the word. Not only are they the final big bad of the dungeon they are also the actual boss of the company you’ve been fighting your way through.
There’s The Caffiend the coffee powered boss of Joblin, Hover Hands the walking HR breach and boss of Winkydink, and finally Hu$tlebones the skeleton with swag and boss of Styxcoin. Each of these dubious top dogs hold a highly prized item which you must retrieve for your own project manager, possibly for nefarious means?
The gameplay is as simple as it comes and like many other roguelikes/lites your main concern is beating up any enemy that comes your way, and of course dying a whole lot.
Character progression is done through learning skills which will help you murder your way to victory. You can also complete tasks to earn the mentorship of one of your co-workers and gain additional perks to help you on your travels. Skills can be found dotted around the dungeons and these can be stacked so you’ll have a range of powers including freezing enemies, making thrown weapons explosive and charming one enemy to join your side. However on death any skills, cash and weapons you’ve picked up on the way will be lost.
The more you select a skill on your dungeon runs the more you will learn it and once you hit 100% on a skill you will be able to start a dungeon with it already selected. The perks you can gain from each co-worker also range from finding additional items in the dungeons that will help you to making sure you start each floor with a few homies. You can only have one mentor and one skill equipped when you start a dungeon, so you can work out a bit of a strategy each time you take on the demented working masses.
You’ll find weapons littered throughout the dungeons and in many cases some of the weapons can be litter! In Going Under the world is your armoury, and anything you pick up can be used to punt someone across the room. There are the traditional swords, spears and crossbows you can use but there is an incredible amount of pleasure to be had smacking someone around the chops with a keyboard or chasing them around with a fully loaded stapler!
Weapons are also closely themed to each dungeon. Joblin’s offices are full of stationery items you can slap someone silly with, you can pick on people with mining equipment in Styxcoin’s lair and Winkydink? Well the weapons in Winkydink range from pokers and body-pillows to enormous eggplants and peaches!
Weapon degradation is also very much a thing, and you’ll only get a few choice whacks out of your chosen beating implement before you’ll have to swap it out. You can prepare and carry three weapons at a time that you can switch between, but it’s always worth trying to scout out the room for replacement weapons when battling the monster hordes.
Other items scattered around the dungeons include Apps which can be used to boost to health or get discounts at the dungeon shops, or they can be used in combat to distract your enemy.
The difficulty curve in Going Under feels not unlike difficulty curves in other roguelikes/lites. Unless you are an absolute dungeon-crawling master you’ll likely spend your first few attempts repeatedly dying. However once you’ve started to gain a few starting perks and skills, and got used to the mobs and quirks of each dungeon, you’ll start to find some runs are more like a walk in the park.
Then of course after successfully completing the three dungeons you’ll find your journey is not over. So after falling into a feeling of relative security and competence at doing runs, the difficultly curve comes swooping back in. Dungeons and bosses that you have been routinely smashing are now significantly harder and that addiction to achieve comes flooding back.
Dungeon crawlers and roguelikes/lites for me have always been pick up and put down happy distractions from the meatier action RPGs in my collection, and Going Under is like another cheeky little snack before I indulge in a big old Sekiro sized steak.
What sets this apart from the other games of its ilk is just how bonkers and funny it is. There are plenty of other comedy crawlers out there but there’s something effortlessly hilarious about Going Under. Maybe it’s because the office humour is so damn relatable and the wildly colourful and cartoonish characters and environments feel so at odds with the grown-up themes. Maybe it’s because using a big purple phallic vegetable to wallop a sexy demon that keeps ghosting you is the absolute pinnacle of pandemic entertainment.
All I know is that it’s thoroughly addictive and fun and I keep going back in for more. I haven’t fully uncovered the murky secrets of fizzy drink-making but this hasn’t stopped me from continuing to wipe out the dungeon dwelling organisations like a vengeful HR Manager who’s seen one too many personnel documents in the manilla folder instead of the puce folder.
If you love crawling around in a dungeon why not expand your horizons and slide your way down through the offices of corrupt corporations. Going Under is so flexible in its combat that you can absolutely stick to the good old ways of arrows and cold steel, but I would implore and advise you to electrocute someone with a tablet pen, lob a yoga ball at a boss’s bonce and clonk someone with a cactus in a pot at least once. Going Under is ludicrously fun and the office banter is both very real and delightfully hilarious.
TBG Score 9/10
Platform: PC, Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo
Release Date: 24/09/2020
No. of Players: 1
Category: Action, Strategy
Developer: Aggro Crab
Download link: US eShop / UK eShop