Quick Look – Going Under

One of the things I have been trying to do with my Steam Deck is to play games that are really best suited for using a controller. Sure, I have a controller for my PC, but it always seems like a hassle to dig it out, plug it it, and remember to unplug it before playing something I don’t want to use it for. I’m also not competent enough with the trackpads just yet to want to play anything with fiddly sorts controls intended to be done with a mouse. Because of this, I’ve been dipping into my collection of action roguelites that I’ve picked up in bundles and never even launched.

Going Under puts you in the stylish-but-comfortable shoes of an unpaid intern for Fizzle (a subsidiary of Cubicle). The job you applied for was in marketing, but the work you end up doing is in monster slaying. You see, underneath the offices of Fizzle are the remnants of failed start-ups past, and someone needs to get the basement cleaned out. That someone, unfortunately, is you.

Since Going Under is as much a scathing commentary on start-up culture and its profits-over-people mentality as it is a dungeon crawling game, it probably won’t be too much of a surprise to learn that you aren’t given the tools to do your job effectively. Instead, you’ll need to pick up whatever you can find in the bowels of this corporate hell and use it to bash in monster faces. In keeping with the game’s themes, the items you do manage to get your hands on will break very quickly – after all, those companies also had to cut costs wherever they could!

After the first tutorial-style run, each time you return to one of the defunct companies beneath your offices, you’ll be in for a three-floors-plus-a-boss run. Run out of health, and you’re onto another day at the office. Your co-workers will hand out tasks for you to complete during your crawls – some will need to be completed in a single run, but most are cumulative. Finishing these will open up mentorships with the different departments, which will grant you some kind of helpful boon on runs when you have that mentor equipped. More completed tasks will level up your mentors, increasing their helpfulness.

You’ll also pick up different skills during your runs. Some are available right from the start, others you’ll need to purchase from the front desk for one of the game’s currencies in order to be able to have a chance at finding them. Once you’ve used a skill enough times, you master it well enough to be able to lock it in at the employee kiosk (which is the same place you change your active mentor), which means you’ll start future runs with it already enabled.

I was a couple hours in, and starting to find that the game was wearing on me – there was so little margin for error, and the speed at which weapons became unusable was sucking all the joy out of finding a really good thing to smash with. The next time I loaded up the game, however, I noticed something I hadn’t before.

Assist options. Sign me up for some of that

I realize for a lot of people, using assist option like this is just sanctioned cheating. I also really don’t care what those people think. I started a brand new save, this time with 2 extra hearts, as well as higher weapon durability and lower enemy health. The game changed from something I was on the verge of shelving completely to something that I personally was finding very satisfying to play. I mean, I’m still not good at it, but using the assist options means I’m actually learning how to play the game instead of just being a dead, disappointing intern all the time.

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