Ah, Silicon Valley. From my soon-to-be cold corner of Chicago, I know of you as a place with a lot of start-ups, tonnes of money funneled to and fro, and usually a awful place to work in. Lotsa stories about unpaid internships, companies over-budget and continuing to spend, all that good stuff really. Many a TV show and movie on the subject but not really in the realm of video games. Well, at least for consoles, that changes with the release of Going Under, a dungeon-crawler set in this very colourful ‘techbro-like’ world of Neo-Cascadia where everything is a weapon.
And no I am not kidding. In Going Under, everything is a weapon and it makes everything awesome. You play as Jacqueline, a young lady who is hired by Fizzle (owned by a large conglomerate called Cubicle) as a marketing intern is instead thrown into a labyrinth of dungeons downstairs consisting of failed start-ups and a never-ending group of angry staff that work endlessly to kick your butt. To make matters worse for Jacky (besides being an unpaid intern), she’s got to deal with an eccentric cast of characters who have their own interests at heart. But it is also those same people that will help her on her journey underground.
Literal Keyboard Warriors
So let us get back to the matter at hand. Fighting baddies with anything you can get your hands on is one of the key features in your arsenal. Whether it is keyboards lying around or boxes that sometimes explode, there’s a heck of a lot of ways to beat your way through rooms of enemies to the boss of each dungeon. It makes for a lot of fun and fights are often frantic as each weapon has limited uses, encouraging you to pick up whatever you can find off the ground or on the wall. But when weapons ‘brake’, they also deal extra damage, which encourages you to keep swinging your keyboard around like a madman.
Of course, there are more than just weapons you will be picking up on your quest in the underground labyrinths of these various failed start-ups. One thing you will find are skills that greatly enhance your abilities. Whether they give you more health, generate more cash, or cause area of effect damage, these skills really add up as you continue your runs, making things a heck of a lot easier when you find yourself overwhelmed by goons that love to blow up on death.
These skills will disappear when you have finished a run of a dungeon (or die trying), but there is no need to fret. Using skills increases your proficiency in them and eventually you can choose to start off with one of those skills. Even better, the co-workers I mentioned earlier can give you a helping hand on top of all this, so long as you do their bidding. These systems really work hand-in-hand with making the combat a lot of fun and I never felt overwhelmed by what to use when playing.
Oh, and there are power-ups too. ‘Apps’ you can pick up from boxes and enemies can help you in your job. But unlike skills, if you decide to leave a room without picking up an app, you will be left with nothing but a bricked phone if you return to grab it. I have bricked many a phone because I get too clingy to one when arguably switching between apps and actually using them can really help you in a pinch.
Like a Shuttered App Museum
Each dungeon has its own theme and I can only say that I love ’em. They are more than just reskins—each labyrinth has its theme slightly adjust the way you play each level. For example, the second dungeon you go into will give you both cash and cryptocurrency and you will need to decide whether to convert the cryptocurrency you have obtained into cash to buy items that you would not be able to get otherwise.
It is these small little differences that really made my runs between each dungeon unique, besides different enemy types and level layouts. Oh, and there are a select few characters you will find underground as well and I found them to be just as charming as the ones upstairs. I love the way conversations are presented in this game as well, as it gives the world of Neo-Cascadia the cynical feeling you would expect from just another Silicon Valley-like start-up.
Everything you find in your quest to do your job (for free) works so well together and with the visual presentation of the game, I found myself playing for hours. The music rolls well with the punches, the fast and fluid gameplay, and the relatively bug-free experience makes Going Under a great recommendation for a genre that has many choices to choose from as it is. As the kids say today, I totes recommend this game.