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Below Is Out Now

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Below has launched. Hundreds of years in development, the title was originally shown ahead of the Xbox One release. It has now appeared on the marketplace for £20 or is available as part of Gamepass. 

 

Don't believe me? Here is a link: https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/p/below/c3twvmk3bnnj?activetab=pivot:overviewtab#

 

I'm a little usure of what to expect. I was really interested when I first saw it, back in 1996, but I'm not sure if long development means great success or a product that still doesn't quite work. Let's see. 

 

Here is a video:

 



15 minutes of gameplay:

 

 

 

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If nothing else, it looks beautiful, so I'll most likely pick it up. Unlocks on Steam in a few hours, but not able to purchase until then (as far as I can see anyway).

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3 minutes ago, K said:

I'm getting a sense that Microsoft is not absolutely certain that this game is very good.

It wasn't the headline title on the Gamepass tweet I saw earlier. Pro Evo was. :unsure:

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1 hour ago, Rudderless said:

No one got code for this until yesterday, so that's why there are no reviews, if anyone's wondering.

 

Not at all suspicious!

 

(EDIT: To be fair, impressions on ResetEra so far are pretty positive!)

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When this was announced it was the only reason I was tempted to get an Xbox One. That was some time ago now, and it's entering a market that's already pretty heavily saturated with similar looking games, and to be honest that trailer is not really tempting me. I'll pick one up if it turns out to be absolutely amazing, but I'm not holding out much hope.

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I've put about an hour in on GamePass, so far I'm really enjoying it. I knew little about it apart from watching a trailer years ago so I've pretty much gone in blind.

 

The music and sound design is excellent, and the whole thing is dripping with atmosphere. It explains very little so there is a genuine sense of figuring things out for yourself, but it doesn't feel opaque or unintuitive, it just isn't hand-holdy.

 

I've died a couple of times so far but there are shortcuts and other ways to mitigate the trip back to your loot. There is crafting and hunger/thirst meters so be aware if that sets off warning bells. I have died of hunger once and early on it does feel like you're encouraged to go at a brisk pace, but not so much that you feel like you're in an insane rush.

 

What I've played so far is really promising but ultimately it's going to come down to how the game keeps evolving, whether the combat system can hold up against tougher enemies, how much it can keep surprising you etc 

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The initial five minutes is atmospheric, but also odd. The next fifteen were ok. Definitely intrigued.

 

and the scale seems to work really well.

 

build dated four days ago...

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Just now, footle said:

The initial five minutes is atmospheric, but also odd.

 

I just came in to say that when you launch the game, it is actually doing something but so astoundingly slowly it'd be a great idea to go make a cup of tea.

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Only managed to get forty minutes or so.

 

The sound design is really quite stunning, There's a very moody intro which is beautifully staged, A great mix of weather effects, synth, and an enveloping sound cloud. Whoever did the sound design on this game really knows what they're doing.

 

The actual game is lovely and responsive, moody and atmospheric. The way everything is lit and enhanced by fire and lanterns as you traverse is natural and gives the cold game world a little warmth.

 

As Majora says this is a game about survival and it takes no prisoners, Intially it seems very challenging and even for an experienced gamer this one doesn't seem to take any immediately familar learning paths from other games so it feels very fresh but a little bit daunting.

 

Genuinely captivating and I can't wait to get back to it to see what happens.

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1 hour ago, K said:

I'm getting a sense that Microsoft is not absolutely certain that this game is very good.

 

Probably a decision made by Capybara, and not Microsoft. I dont theyre considered first-party?

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19 minutes ago, ronin said:

 

Probably a decision made by Capybara, and not Microsoft. I dont theyre considered first-party?

 

I thought it was published by Microsoft, but presumably not. Seems like an odd decision by Capybara not to send review code out - people who’ve played it seem to like it. 

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57 minutes ago, K said:

 

I thought it was published by Microsoft, but presumably not. Seems like an odd decision by Capybara not to send review code out - people who’ve played it seem to like it. 

Sounds like they only got it finished about half an hour ago, which might be why there were no codes. 

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45 minutes ago, Wahwah* said:

Sounds like they only got it finished about half an hour ago, which might be why there were no codes. 

 

I'm no expert on these things, but I would have thought they could send out early code with an explanation of what's going to change, what's temporary, what will be implemented, etc. Mags and websites must see that sort of thing all the time, surely? I can't imagine the game was radically different a fortnight ago.

 

If they're self-publishing, maybe they just didn't have the time. I seem to remember that happened with N+++.

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This is going to be incredibly divisive I think. So far I've died more from hunger or the cold than to the enemies. It doesn't feel unfair but it is tough. You can manually set a checkpoint to warp to when you die (won't spoil how since discovery is everything in this) but if you die after warping to the checkpoint but before setting another then you have to basically start again. There are shortcuts in the environment to mitigate this but there will still be a fair bit of backtracking regardless.

 

I suspect that a) a lot of people will wish there were no survival elements and b) that it's the type of game I put down in a sulk when I die without setting a checkpoint and then inevitably come back to it a few hours later. It's not relaxing at all, it's very much more a survival game then an adventure game.

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Just now, The Eagle Lord said:

I may have to renew my gamepass to play this then, i do remember liking the look of this and want to research it a bit more but i feel this maybe better to go in blind maybe. 

 

Theres a holiday offer on amazon: years gamespass, £47.99 or so.

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I read about this recently and the creator said its design was inspired by Fez in terms of handholding, world building and secrets. And Fez was amazing. So there should be a lot of environmental storytelling, secrets and lore stuff to unravel, which sounds great. He wanted players to have to figure things out themselves and use icons instead of text to convey information. I'm really hoping this will be good!

 

And did I remember right in that levels are procedurally generated? How's that working out?

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I've got Ashen to finish off first but I'm looking forward to giving this a go.

 

A real-time roguelike but with Capybara levels of production values and polish? In my imagination it's an alternate dimension version of Diablo that took its cues from Nethack instead of Rogue.

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16 minutes ago, Alan Stock said:

I read about this recently and the creator said its design was inspired by Fez in terms of handholding, world building and secrets. And Fez was amazing. So there should be a lot of environmental storytelling, secrets and lore stuff to unravel, which sounds great. He wanted players to have to figure things out themselves and use icons instead of text to convey information. I'm really hoping this will be good!

 

And did I remember right in that levels are procedurally generated? How's that working out?

 

I can see some similarities with Fez but Fez could be as relaxing as you like and this isn't. You always have to push forward because your hunger meter, and cold meter when the time comes, ticks down very quickly. I wouldn't say you have to rush but if you don't keep up a brisk pace you will either starve or freeze to death, and I've rarely felt like I've been able to build up a good supply of food. Especially straight after death when you need to find your body to recover your supplies.

 

I can imagine people looking at the visuals and listening to the soundtrack and imagining this to be relaxing or tranquil when it's very stressful and you're always aware the clock is ticking, and I imagine that combined with the tough difficulty will make it a very acquired taste. There are secrets but you don't really get to go at your own pace to find them, it's more whether you stumble across them while you're racing to find another checkpoint/warmth/food in my experience. 

 

I'm curious as to whether I'll eventually reach a tipping point where the survival elements seem more trivial or if it's going to be this determined march the whole way through.

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That does sound stressful! So it's a proper survival game then. I hope it gets more sustainable over time, so you can do some meaningful exploring/secrets etc. 

 

It's always a tricky balance to get right with survival and horror games. Someone was talking about Resident Evil 3 recently and pointed out they had no time to appreciate the environments or explore, because half the time they were being chased by Nemesis.

 

Subnautica starts out quite hard where you struggle to survive with food and oxygen, yet over time you become more self-sufficient as you upgrade your tech. Then the game shifts into more of an exploration game and the survival aspect becomes when you venture into deeper areas and against harder enemies. I think this change of pace is important for survival games with stories or exploration. If you're constantly running around hunting for supplies on a tight death timer, it becomes hard to relax and appreciate the places you're visiting.

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5 hours ago, Majora said:

There is crafting and hunger/thirst meters so be aware if that sets off warning bells.

 

I’ve never really understood or liked the term before but I think I’ve been ‘triggered’. Is that what it is? Can’t stand this sort of shit. 

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7 hours ago, JoeK said:

If nothing else, it looks beautiful, so I'll most likely pick it up. Unlocks on Steam in a few hours, but not able to purchase until then (as far as I can see anyway).

 

Cool I thought it was MS exclusive 

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