The Xbox Wire team recently had the chance to get hands on with developer Capybara's upcoming dungeon crawler Below
which will be making its way to the Xbox One via the ID@Xbox program.
The game takes an interesting approach on the use of scale as the playable character will feel "insignificant" in the game's world. The character himself comes off rather small but according to Creative Director Kris Piotrowski, this is intentional:
I wanted to make a game where an entire level could fit on one screen. It was just an idea of using the HD display capabilities to not go in closer and show cooler details – but instead pull out and use the whole screen as a level. I love the idea of being a little speck of light moving through a very ominous world.
Those familiar with the genre will be keen to explore and seeing so much of the world on your screen at once will entice players into doing so. Without a tutorial to hold your hand, survivng in this huge world will require explorers to learn on the go. Using
to swing the sword and raise the shield, respectively, the simple combat mechanics will be easy to use to take down enemies. Items like "charcoal, cloth, a carrot, a sharp stone, and other seemingly random items" can be found and added to the players inventory from looting foes and finding them around the world.
Xbox Wire had to learn how to fish for themselves as the in-game hunger meter was depleting:
Upon exploring some caves and following a few winding staircases, I discovered a small lake. I jumped in and watched fish swim from the ripples I created, which gave me an idea. Earlier, I’d found a spear-like object, which was perfect, it turned out, for skewering trout. While I’d previously felt a bit untethered by Below‘s lack of hand-holding, learning to spearfish – and in turn feeding my depleting hunger meter – provided an unexpected sense of satisfaction.
After feeling happy and fed with the fish, Xbox Wire walked into a spike trap. This returned the player back to the beach as a new character. This sounds quiet brutal and punishing but according to Piotrowski, this mechanic "saps your life... but not your progress".
Even though a new character has spawned, players will have the opportunity to find their corpse and collect the loot their character had. Progress from defeating enemies, opening doors and discovering areas will remain as it was. One way to to help stay alive and with a belly full of food will be to take advantage of crafting. Xbox Wire discovered the crafting menu and began to experiment and play around:
I discovered the game’s crafting menu and found – alongside the carrot that I’d picked up earlier – an empty bottle and two potatoes. I took the jar back to the watering hole, filled it, tossed in the root vegetables, and cooked it over the fire.
After enjoying their freshly cooked soup and finishing up the hands-on session, Xbox Wire were very impressed with how such simple features in a game could make them feel so rewarded. Here;s what Piotrowski had to say:
Most games sort of focus on player empowerment, becoming more badass and becoming just like a decked-out dude with wicked armor and stuff. Below is kind of the opposite of that. You have one life; you don’t know how things work. You just have to make it work, and figure it out. As you go, you learn different things about the game world, and become better at it, and learn from other mistakes – and that’s the sort of main idea behind Below.
You can see the game's scale, crafting, combat, and a general good feel for the adventure to come in these new screens:Below
is currently without a solid release date. Do you look forward to the possibility of permanently dying in the game?