Going Under Review

Roguelikes have a tendency to be hardcore and unforgiving experiences where you will die a lot and the procedural generation along with the randomisation of levels make many exemplars of the genre inaccessible, off-putting and rather unimaginative. Enter Going Under, a roguelike that does things a little different from the norm and makes itself adherable to audiences who want a less gruelling time in its techy underworlds if desired, or you can play it as intended – which is to say you’ll die a lot. Can Going Under prove itself amongst its fellow roguelike colleagues as a formidable intern, or should you choose another vocation?

You play as Jackie,  a sassy new intern hired by the Cubicle initiative, who takes on the role of marketing for a drinks company called Fizzle Beverages, which in itself seems like an appropriate metaphor for all the failed business start-ups the game has you trawling through in the form of underground dungeons. As this fresh-faced young woman, you are incorporated into a company of business cliché parodies who like to create all kinds of mischief and muck about whilst you get down to the serious work of clearing out dungeon dwellers and satisfying the assignments you’re given by your mentors. You’re nothing but a pressured underling doing the bidding of your superiors and in this way it’s always you carrying out the dirty work-and that’s why it’s called Internships Are Heck y’all.

Unlike standard roguelike fare there’s a glowing sense of humour permeating Going Under, which invites you into its world by making you wonder what kinds of whacky goings on you will uncover along the way. Right from the outset Going Under never takes itself seriously and there’s more to revel in than a straightforward setup where you kill monsters or they kill you- a refreshing and welcome take on the roguelike that feels quirky and interesting.

When you get down to the knitty gritty of partaking in Going Under’s procedural generation-you will find the familiar and you will discover the differences. Finding dungeons to clean out will require  you to locate a chute that you can slide down to begin your descent into the bowels of iniquity. From here you will start cleaning rooms of enemies with weapons you can either pick up in the environment and start clobbering. Additionally you can purchase weapons and items including healing and buff items in sporadically located shops displayed with a shopping tag on the door or sold by a sketchy-looking vampire, and lastly you can gain access to a small storage room where you will be able to pick up a few freebies. You then beat all your adversaries up until you eventually reach a boss-then you defeat the boss and return to headquarters to pick up your rewards and adulation from your fellow employees and your employer.

While you can’t take off your shoes and hurl them towards as projectiles, the weapons you have at your disposal to bash and smash joblin goblins around the bonce with such as keyboards, pencils, computer monitors, pokers, clubs, spiked baseball bats, mops, blades and stools among others- are sufficient and coherent alternatives, meaning that not only are you open to a menagerie of weaponry you’d likely find as standard objects in a run of the mill internships office, but also that you’ve got the space to experiment and find the most effective tools to get the job done-if one weapon is too weak for you then you can drop it and find another that’s more suited to your preferences without struggling to find any. Heavier weapons feel heftier and therefore will take a bit longer to connect with the target, but the amount of damage dealt will be significant, whereas smaller weapons will likely deal damage quicker but with less significance. It’s worth being mindful of the weapons you use as choosing a slower weapon may result in you being pounced on and prodded to death-you need to think carefully about every room you enter.

You will be contending with all manner of malevolence from gelatinous blobs, to blueish goblins to divebombing winged pests and mysterious enemies that will vanish and then reappear to throw a projectile at your face. Needless to say Going Under throws a lot in your way and you need to show you are tough enough to withstand the onslaught-even when some of the blighters speed around in open-top vehicles attempting to run you down. Be prepared to face-off with a gaggle of foes at a time and for the dungeon rooms to keep on coming, but when you meet the boss you’ll feel at least slightly relieved that there is just one more hurdle to overcome.

Boss fights are as ebullient as the rest of the game although the standard knowhow is enough to see you defeat them with relative ease-supposing you don’t die and have to repeat the dungeon again. What makes bosses stand out is their unorthodox attack patterns and general design. Get ready to battle a giant galoot with a cannister on its back who throws his fellow minion goblins straight at you and a boss who looks like red-faced Neo Cortex with a floating pair of hands.

Unlike other roguelikes, Going Under welcomingly offers various options to make the game more digestible and easier to play. A range of assist options including extra hearts, higher weapon durability and lower enemy health will ensure that players can readily enjoy what Going Under has to offer and the developers deserve major kudos for thinking outside of the gritty toughness that tends to define the roguelike genre.

Going Under maybe criticised for exposing its low-budget art style and audio capabilities, but the colourful and eye-popping crayon-esque look makes sure that Going Under stands apart from similar games. The environments don’t feel special as you are constantly contending with rooms filled with enemies to clear out, but they do feel like individual playpens except replace hellraising children with techy monstrosities and you’ll get the picture. Similarly the audio lacks a punch and there isn’t any spoken dialogue, but what’s here is serviceable if unimpressive.

Conclusion

Going Under: Internships Are Heck isn’t your standard roguelike, it carries more charisma and playfulness than you’ll find in many of examples of the genre. No Going Under doesn’t breathe new life into the roguelike nor does it give you anything outside of a rinse and repeat formula of clearing dungeons over and over, but the sense of humour and vibrancy on display makes up for its shortcomings and you will feel as though it’s a worthwhile internship while it lasts.

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This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.
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Good
  • Vibrant and colourful visual presentation
  • Nicely designed bosses
  • The humour and parody is exquisite
Bad
  • Rinse and repeat dungeons
  • Makes you feel like you’re doing dirty work
  • Not enough meat on its bones
6.8
Okay
Gameplay - 7.5
Graphics - 7
Audio - 5
Longevity - 7.5
Written by
Although the genesis of my videogame addiction began with a PS1 and an N64 in the mid-late 90s as a widdle boy, Xbox has managed to hook me in and consume most of my videogame time thanks to its hardcore multiplayer fanaticism and consistency. I tend to play anything from shooters and action adventures to genres I'm not so good at like sports, RTS and puzzle games.

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