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Quick Look: Below

Dec. 20th 2018

Sometimes a dark and stormy atmosphere is enough to keep you going. Other times, not so much...

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Quick Looks

12 Seasons • 2808 Episodes

Sit back and enjoy as the Giant Bomb team takes an unedited look at the latest video games.

89 Comments

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RvanceTal

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Edited By RvanceTal • 

You guys can use and carry around those torches in your inventory for light when you lose your Lantern.

Also you walked past a shortcut at the second campfire you go to, the game is very much designed like Dark Souls or other games like it that shortcuts are opened up as you progress that make the trips Below a lot shorter. The game is also very nice in that it shows you how many and the general direction of all the exits are from each room from the map screen.

Also if you tap the shield button it does its other action which in the case of the Shield is a bash that can stun the guy who blocks all the time.

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militantfreudian

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Edited By militantfreudian • 

I seem to have a certain affinity for games that aren't "fun," because this totally looks up my alley. I hope the game makes its way to other platforms.

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frostmute

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Edited By frostmute • 

They literally give you a renewable alternate light source... running back is literally a non issue as you'll pick up the resources necessary to make more torches on the run back.

I'm just going to say it... Giving Dan this quick look was a mistake. I love you Dan.

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TheCheese33

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TheCheese33 • 

I'm with Dan on this one. Getting hit by one-hit kill spikes and losing up to 30-45 minutes of progress is infuriating. I downloaded this and Ashen on the same day (thank you Game Pass), and of the two run-based, difficult games, Ashen has a much more encouraging, friendly approach. I'm eager to get back to Ashen, but I can't see myself returning to Below after my second or third death.

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Khessed

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Edited By Khessed • 

I dunno but this Quick Look is completely counter to my own experiences.

I barely use the lantern because I stock up on torches. I use the lantern to unlock things by shining it at them, while keeping those diamonds in stock for the campfire teleports and stuff. Figuring out all the arcane icons is part of the thing that makes you better at the game. Futsing around and trying everything is the key. There's a ton of shortcuts to uncover and make progress (and corpse runs) easier. I keep a diary with crafting recipes because that's the feeling of becoming better at this game: Being able to manage your run based on skill and personal experience rather than, say, leveling up in Rogue Legacy to brute-force a problem.

Also, at some point you get to sleep at a campfire which transports you to a prep-room of sorts, where you can store weapons, armor, 'lantern diamonds' and bottles for healing. It's super neat.

also, all traps are denoted with a glowing red line when you shine your lantern (maybe also the torch?) on it so you can see them beforehand, and the spike traps can be safely triggered by swiping your sword at them.

It's a bummer it doesn't click for you @danryckert, but maybe you could reconsider your approach to it?

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valinthyne

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valinthyne • 

In addition to the torches you can make arrows that have a glowing tip. Its like throwing a stone instead of dropping one.

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Levaunt

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Levaunt • 

Hopefully they talk about these comments on the podcast. I would hate for people to be turned off of this game just because it's not their type of game/ they didn't think to use a torch to make light.

I'm reading a lot of articles about how the game is too hard and infuriating and doesn't explain anything, but isn't that what everyone loves about the first few Zelda games? In my opinion this game nails it and I am in love with the difficulty. It's the first game in a while that is challenging me and my expectations of games. No more hand holding, right?

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The_Nubster

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Edited By The_Nubster • 

I feel like going into this Quick Look being frustrated with not having found your body, and only giving it fifteen minutes, is doing it a disservice. Brad played it for much longer on UPF and he seemed much more intrigued by it. My impressions of it are more or less the same but it was way more informative to see Brad try to puzzle it out and actually engage in it. It's pretty clear that the ship has sailed for Dan and it's not fun to watch a video that covers that feeling for a spurt.

EDIT: And the Dead Cells comparisons... why? They didn't make sense with Hollow Knight and this is even farther from that.

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elflaconeri

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elflaconeri • 

These kinds of games are definitely not going to appeal to everyone, and I won't doubt that it might actually have its issues, but I I'm very hesitant to put faith in an assessment coming from Dan about any game that demands patience. When he talked about getting killed on spikes run after run, I thought to myself, "I bet you're sprinting around in the dark and not taking your time..." and he said exactly that moments later.

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Mechsican

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Edited By Mechsican • 
@the_nubster said:

Edited By The_Nubster

And the Dead Cells comparisons... why? They didn't make sense with Hollow Knight and this is even farther from that.

That's what I hate the most. Dead Cells is a character action game with persistent upgrades and unlocks. Below is Castaway the game where Tom Hanks dies and retains his knowledge and desire to continue through a new body.

As someone else said this "should" be up his alley for loving LttP so damn much but for some reason he expects to understand the game without putting in any work. When I first played LttP as a kid I had no clue what I was doing and gave up on it until I beat Super Mario RPG. Coming back to it later after talking to some friends I made some progress and actually beat it a year or so later. Fast forward to today much like dan I could run through the game without opening the map.

It's evident he didn't try experimenting with the intro camp fire and the free 25 crystals sitting next to it. The first time entering that cave I picked up the crystals and saw that I got 25 for free and said "well hot damn right on free loot." and then sat a the fire and was presented with an option to use 25 crystals on it.

Realizing this was a tutorial thing I did it and the fire turned blue. I had no idea what it meant at the time but the game did it's job and taught me that turning fires blue might be a good idea. I'm no where near finishing the game as Ashen is consuming me right now but I'll be damned if I let a game out smart me again.

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ToxicAntidote

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ToxicAntidote  Online • 

Ever since GOTY 2014, when Patrick and Dan argued about The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, I've not felt like I can make use of Dan's opinions on run based games with vague explanations.
As a matter of fact, hearing him talk down on games like that makes me want to check them out even more.

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Humanity

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Humanity  Online • 

For the most part I'm enjoying the experience, that said:

-The survival mechanics are probably the worst element of this entire game and one that seem to hold it back from being an otherwise chill, exploratory experience. Managing hunger just sucks and adds absolutely nothing to the game apart from an arbitrary timer that keeps ticking down.

-Running back to your corpse is typically not a huge issue but sometimes you get incredibly far down where doing the runback can be a journey in of itself. I've definitely literally died of hunger trying to get back to my corpse in the past, not to mention that not having the lantern can be a bummer in some areas.

-The way unlocking fast travel through bonfires is a one time deal is also a very harsh design choice. Once you dump in the points it feels like you should be able to travel between bonfires like you do in Dark Souls 2/3.

I keep getting sucked in by the mystery and making your way "below" the mountain and uncovering new shortcuts is weirdly satisfying. But the above issues make this a tense experience for me rather than an enjoyable one. I'm in a place that is extremely far away from the shortcut so if I die the runback to my corpse is quite literally over 30 rooms long - on top of that I've used up all of my food so I have to hope and pray that there will be rats or bats around that let me fill up my hunger before the next shortcut back to the surface. All of this is making me feel anxiety while playing in a bad way because if I do die I just don't know if I'll have it in me to forge through all those same rooms back down again.

I can only hope they patch this game to maybe alleviate some of the hardcore notions which serve only as stumbling blocks or nagging reminders rather than fun challenges to overcome. There is nothing fun in being out of food in an area that generally has no food growing in it and relying that whatever algorithm is working in the background will eventually give you something.

It's a real weird hate/love relationship because visually I'm really loving it and I also enjoy this peaceful exploration aspect. If I could just flip some switch and turn off hunger forever I think my enjoyment would jump up like 100%.

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adamxkuhn

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adamxkuhn • 

Imagine having to play a game that requires patience and care.

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taaltos

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taaltos  Online • 

@rvancetal: Beat me to it. "Dan! Torches!" But, alas, they can't hear me.

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ripelivejam

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ripelivejam • 

Git gud amirite?

It's fine I think if the game doesn't appeal to him. Pretty sure the game may not appeal to ME though I'm fascinated by it anyway. Dark Souls also (initially) fascinated me but eventually became something I shy away from whenever it is used as a descriptor. Try as I might I just cannot hang with those games for long, and believe me I tried. I can see and respect the methotical nature those games have, I suppose. Am I automatically wrong then for just not feeling it? I'll still maybe give this a shot as I am feeling its mood but I can tell it is close to the same.

This is yet another situation, though, where I am obsessed with the masterful soundtrack despite not having played the game.

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Deathpooky

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Deathpooky • 

I don't think this QL did a great job of showing off the game, and I've really disagreed with Dan's opinions on run-based games or games that require patience/careful play in the past. With that said, from everything I've seen and heard about this game, I'm completely in agreement with Dan, even if I'd probably find more success than him.

The survival mechanics seem pointless and annoying, the obtuse nature of the icons really doesn't fit in a game with such harsh mechanics, the gameplay does not seem compelling or varied enough to justify the cycle of re-running the same areas, the presence of instant death traps and a relatively long spin-up time to start a new run are infuriating, and the general death/re-run mechanics seem incredibly frustrating instead of inspiring you to do another run to conquer the area.

The style and music it has going for it, but nothing about it looks appealing to play, even as someone who has loved a dozen varied types of rogue-likes, souls-likes, and every other -like that this game is drawing inspiration from.

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Sword_of_doom

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Edited By Sword_of_doom • 

I get how losing progression is what adds tension to these types of games and that’s kind of the point as you explore, I wish they hadn’t made this game run based. Just doesn’t seem appealing at all.

When I saw the quicklook, I though it would be Brad or Jason playing it.

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Choi • 

And to think they get paid to do this stuff... Another game totally misrepresented on a Quick look :(
Ignoring totally obvious things like the torch in the inventory. Boy oh boy...

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LoktarOgar

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LoktarOgar • 

Y'know what games I liked? Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes, and Critter Crunch.

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Humanity  Online • 

@sword_of_doom: I think Brad went home for the holidays which is why Dan did it although he really seems to be the last person that would enjoy a game like this. Brad definitely has more patience for this sort of stuff and might have dug a little deeper than running past the first few areas, dying and calling it quits. Well, it’s a Quick Look after all.

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Splodge

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Splodge  Online • 

The survival aspects feel unnecessary and just add busywork. It's a shame because I adore the atmosphere and design. I feel like they could have just done without the crafting system completely and focused more on environmental puzzle elements.

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Brad3000

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Edited By Brad3000 • 

I was both frustrated by Dan in this quick look and also find this game to be boring AF, so I guess I have no group to stand with.

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ttcfcl

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ttcfcl • 

Sounds like this is another game that doesn't explain anything to you, so you are better off waiting a while for the internet to figure it out then reading a walkthrough.

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renzu

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Edited By renzu • 

Dan is def. the wrong person to present games like these, and it's a foregone conclusion that no part of Below would grab him, but that said, the game has significant flaws, and some of the criticisms they make are valid nevertheless. This game is more stoic than actual Dark Souls, with extremely tedious corpse runs even taking the shortest route, and some of its design elements are at odds — methodical exploration gameplay with a hunger meter.

And then having experienced the full progression, it feels like a game with a cut-down scope to make holiday release. There are only two, completely identical boss fights. Not even kidding. The art design is fantastic, it's not without wondrous moments, and there's something to be said for its ultra-stoicism regardless of how frustrating it is, so it could've been a cult classic with an extra year of production. I respect what Capybara Games went for even if they didn't nail it.

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warmonked

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warmonked • 

@rvancetal: lolol. I saw him pick up something that looked like a torch and do nothing with it. I was so confused!

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MeierTheRed • 

After the UPF segment and now this video, I'm 100% sure this would be a waste of my money.

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JetForceGemini • 

Not a game for those with little patience or poor observation skills it seems. I’ll be curious to see if Brad sees it through to the end or not.

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SLowrAM • 

Come on guys this was a half ass attempt at a quicklook, you didn't even show what it looks like on a new character with a lantern to see the difference. Don't bother if you can't do better, definitely my time would have been spent better watching any other video.

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adamxkuhn

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TheAnonymousMrP • 

@brad3000 said:

Edited By Brad3000

I was both frustrated by Dan in this quick look and also find this game to be boring AF, so I guess I have no group to stand with.

Eh, I'll stand with you. I still find the game intriguing but I feel a lot of the design elements run counter to making me want to continue which is why I've barely touched it after the first couple of days. That being said, "yo Dan, torches".

I think they said this is the Xbox version, but it's worth as a heads up pointing out the game is pretty buggy on PC. General crashing isn't constant but happens enough to be off-putting (restarting puts you at the start of the room, which isn't too bad at least) but I still don't know what the purple elixir does except crash the game...

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JerK • 

@thecheese33: Welcome to the world of rogue-likes. They're not for everyone.

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elite49 • 
@levaunt said:

Levaunt

Hopefully they talk about these comments on the podcast. I would hate for people to be turned off of this game just because it's not their type of game/ they didn't think to use a torch to make light.

I'm reading a lot of articles about how the game is too hard and infuriating and doesn't explain anything, but isn't that what everyone loves about the first few Zelda games? In my opinion this game nails it and I am in love with the difficulty. It's the first game in a while that is challenging me and my expectations of games. No more hand holding, right?

I don't think this is true at all... ALTTP is as straightforward as it can be.

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doncabesa • 

I can't remember the last time GB did a Quick Look that felt like it had a lot of work put behind it and had at least halfway decent information about the game in it. They feel like reviews used to, a holdover that no one involved seems that interested in.

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Bsmittel • 

Sorry to say but this might be one of the poorest "quick looks" ever done on Giantbomb. Torches and shortcuts are you friend. Dan I'm beginning to have serious questions about you while I was waiting for all this horrible stuff to happen in the RDR2 epilogue after your ranting and raving on the Beastcasts. Nothing incredibly frustrating ever happened. I never had "to go across the entire map to shoot two guys" I never had to travel far at all, almost everything was in the same area, and a couple of times it didn't it was cut scene fast travel. Ha these GOTY podcasts should be very interesting.

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WildAggro

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WildAggro • 

quicklooks these days just feel like im watching some ign gameplay and thats not a good thing at all

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doncabesa

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doncabesa • 

Not liking the game isn't why so many of us are annoyed btw, if people feel the same way as me it's because these Quick Looks lately feel so haphazard and filled with either straight up wrong or missing key information about the games they're supposedly showing off.

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elite49

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Edited By elite49 • 

@jerk said:

JerK Online •

@elite49: Zelda & Zelda II on the NES....

Zelda 1 is perfectly doable without some sort of guide, hell Dan even beat the game.

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adamcboyd

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adamcboyd • 

Not using the torch and not using the fire. Operator error and a bad worker blames his tools.

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The_Nubster • 

@humanity said:

Humanity


I keep getting sucked in by the mystery and making your way "below" the mountain and uncovering new shortcuts is weirdly satisfying. But the above issues make this a tense experience for me rather than an enjoyable one.

This sounds amazing honestly. Being scared to die and feeling tense and uncomfortable as you explore this mysterious, ominous cavern sounds like a hell of an experience.

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JJRage • 

@theanonymousmrp said:

TheAnonymousMrP

@brad3000 said:

Edited By Brad3000

I was both frustrated by Dan in this quick look and also find this game to be boring AF, so I guess I have no group to stand with.

Eh, I'll stand with you. I still find the game intriguing but I feel a lot of the design elements run counter to making me want to continue which is why I've barely touched it after the first couple of days. That being said, "yo Dan, torches".

I think they said this is the Xbox version, but it's worth as a heads up pointing out the game is pretty buggy on PC. General crashing isn't constant but happens enough to be off-putting (restarting puts you at the start of the room, which isn't too bad at least) but I still don't know what the purple elixir does except crash the game...

And my axe.

I've played a lot of this game, and I haven't enjoyed most of my time with it. I even have similar complaints to Dan. But a 15 minute Quick Look from someone who's already written the game off does this game a massive disservice.

Yeah, maybe Dan's lack of information about certain mechanics is telling about the game in general. After all, it's clear the design strategy was "don't teach the player anything about anything". But literally 5 minutes of research could've saved this video from making the crew look woefully uninformed about the game.

I don't like the game, but it deserved better.

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Humanity

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Humanity  Online • 

The_Nubster

@humanity said:

Humanity


I keep getting sucked in by the mystery and making your way "below" the mountain and uncovering new shortcuts is weirdly satisfying. But the above issues make this a tense experience for me rather than an enjoyable one.

This sounds amazing honestly. Being scared to die and feeling tense and uncomfortable as you explore this mysterious, ominous cavern sounds like a hell of an experience.

If the mechanics worked a little better then yes I would agree. But in this case, I would sadly actually have to echo Dan here in saying that the fear is of having to do something really annoying all over again - an annoyance that pushes you away from playing more of the game rather than challenging you onward.

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steveurkel

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steveurkel • 

Sounds like dans game of the year

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craymen_edge

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craymen_edge • 

I saw the hour Brad played on UPF and it's clear to me I definitely won't like this game. That segment was much more informative than this quick look. It's fine that the crew aren't enjoying it, but this QL feels really under-prepared and uninformed.

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Edited By yellownumber5 • 
@rvancetal said:

Edited By RvanceTal

You guys can use and carry around those torches in your inventory for light when you lose your Lantern.

Also you walked past a shortcut at the second campfire you go to, the game is very much designed like Dark Souls or other games like it that shortcuts are opened up as you progress that make the trips Below a lot shorter. The game is also very nice in that it shows you how many and the general direction of all the exits are from each room from the map screen.

Also if you tap the shield button it does its other action which in the case of the Shield is a bash that can stun the guy who blocks all the time.

OMG yes! I was yelling at the screen every time Dan was being an idiot. Sure, this game has a reeeally high learning curve without any type of tutorial or encyclopedia that explains anything, but c'mon. YOU GOT A TORCH! Stop complaining about it being dark you idiot! You can also hit the spike traps with your sword to set them off so you don't have to worry about accidentally running into them. I hated those spike traps too, but once you are hit a few times you learn not to blindly run into them. Why isn't he grabbing all the items!

This game thrusts it on you to be cautious, patient, observant, and prepared. For those who just want to dash and slash this game will be quite frustrating. But once you learn how to temper yourself and pay attention to what is going on around you and take every step with discretion it will open up and reward you. It's difficult and frustrating because its just different than what we expect of games. There is a point where it clicks. I don't think a lot of people will get past that point, especially since level 2 and 3, which are early into the game, are really dark if you don't have a light source like a torch or the lantern. (you can explore to get other items later that replace the torch or lantern for light). My runs now usually last a few hours before I die, and at this point, now that I figured out most of the games systems, it is totally on me for being an idiot or being too bold. It doesn't feel as unfair as it does into the first few hours of the game when it's dark you don't know anything.

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super_slothy

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super_slothy • 

I am loving this game despite a huge setback.

I put 15 hours in and was maybe half way finished the game (judging by the number of lantern pieces I collected) when the game crashed while I was going between rooms. Unfortunately, the auto save triggers as you exit and enter a new room. The crash must’ve corrupted the save file and the game would just crash when I tried to continue. Eventually I just deleted the save file and started over. It really sucks but I’m still loving this game. The mystery and suspensefulness of wandering deeper has really hooked me.

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yellownumber5

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Edited By yellownumber5 • 
@humanity said:

Humanity

For the most part I'm enjoying the experience, that said:

-The survival mechanics are probably the worst element of this entire game and one that seem to hold it back from being an otherwise chill, exploratory experience. Managing hunger just sucks and adds absolutely nothing to the game apart from an arbitrary timer that keeps ticking down.

-Running back to your corpse is typically not a huge issue but sometimes you get incredibly far down where doing the runback can be a journey in of itself. I've definitely literally died of hunger trying to get back to my corpse in the past, not to mention that not having the lantern can be a bummer in some areas.

-The way unlocking fast travel through bonfires is a one time deal is also a very harsh design choice. Once you dump in the points it feels like you should be able to travel between bonfires like you do in Dark Souls 2/3.

I keep getting sucked in by the mystery and making your way "below" the mountain and uncovering new shortcuts is weirdly satisfying. But the above issues make this a tense experience for me rather than an enjoyable one. I'm in a place that is extremely far away from the shortcut so if I die the runback to my corpse is quite literally over 30 rooms long - on top of that I've used up all of my food so I have to hope and pray that there will be rats or bats around that let me fill up my hunger before the next shortcut back to the surface. All of this is making me feel anxiety while playing in a bad way because if I do die I just don't know if I'll have it in me to forge through all those same rooms back down again.

I can only hope they patch this game to maybe alleviate some of the hardcore notions which serve only as stumbling blocks or nagging reminders rather than fun challenges to overcome. There is nothing fun in being out of food in an area that generally has no food growing in it and relying that whatever algorithm is working in the background will eventually give you something.

It's a real weird hate/love relationship because visually I'm really loving it and I also enjoy this peaceful exploration aspect. If I could just flip some switch and turn off hunger forever I think my enjoyment would jump up like 100%.

I found two tricks to always having food. I think it's too helpful to warrant spoilers.

-First, the cave that's by the first firepit on the first beach always has an extra bottle in it. If you go further into that cave to the next room you get either arrows, a spear, or armor. If you get a spear you can capture all the fish in that room for at least one stew in one of the two bottles you have now.

-Two: Through level two you find another beach on the northwestern side of the map. The elevator shortcut to the top is here. There is plenty of food to grab on the beach, and a firepit. Once you have this shortcut it's not too hard to grab the extra bottle and make your way down the shortcut back to get to level two or three. Now you can easily stock up on food and multiply the amount of bottles you have each time you collect them from a corpse. I've ended up having so many bottles filled with stew that I'd run out of space.

Edit: For those who don't know ,animals are the main source for food and there are plenty, sometimes hard to notice sources. It felt mean killing them at first, but you get used to it. I hope I don't loose a reward for being so murderous.,

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Humanity

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Humanity  Online • 

@yellownumber5: I suppose the problem is that this sort of preparation can be a bit time consuming, especially when the first thing on your mind is getting back to where you were at previously - but that is training patience and understanding that this is basically the only viable way to play the game. What can't be avoided is, I don't know if this is worth spoilers, but I'm fairly deep in the cannibals land. Way past the shortcut, and I was doing fine, I had tons of bottles, stews stocked up, things were good. But by methodically going about I ate all my stews and now going back to the shortcut seems as deadly as going forward, but you know that area basically has rats or bats and thats it.

So I guess my main problem is that even with great preparation you can still find yourself deep in and in a bit of a pickle.