I got hands on with Below at PAX East, and i’m counting the days until this releases

Below has been one of my most anticipated game for years now. Since first playing it back in 2014 at PAX East, this has been on my list of must have, can’t wait, killer apps for Xbox One, and I had no idea it was going to even be at the show this year.

When I got to the bottom of the escalator at the convention center this morning, I immediately jumped into the Xbox booth. I figured, hey I’ll play a PUBG game, die quickly, and see what else they’re demoing.

I ended up bowing out at 55 or so. Atrocious.

When I left my chicken dinner dreams behind, I turned the corner and yelped out loud, “OH MY GOD BELOW IS HERE?!!?” simultaneously scaring a booth worker and dropping my gear to grab a controller. Over the next 15 minutes or so, I explored, fought monsters, lit fires, and badgered the developers with questions like, “you can die from hunger!?! That’s fantastic!”

The sheer size of the land vs the player character stresses me out

The game feels excellent. Your very small player character feels incredibly threatened by all the dark space around them, but the sword and shield mechanics are solid, and the exploration itself is stressful and rewarding at the same time.

An example of how tightly wound the mortality is, is that there is a hunger, cold, and thirst mechanic. My first play through (of three separate visits), I died of hunger simply because I didn’t know that I needed to eat. On my second play through, thirst was one of my primary concerns, as I was trapped underground in a cave with no water supplies, and needed to find a pool or stream fast before my character perished. Adding to my stress? Jim Guthrie’s ominous music, that heightens the unsettling nature of your quest.

This game feels like a throwback hybrid – with some of the mystery of the first two Zelda games, and a very Link feeling protagonist, with a strong Dark Souls/Rogue-lite vibe. Nothing is explained to you, your hand isn’t held at all, and if you die? Well, maybe the next adventurer can do better.

I’m hooked. I asked about release dates, and physical vs. digital, and Capy is keeping those details close, which I understand, but they did say this year, and digital first, with the option of a physical release always a possibility in the future.

If the final game is what I played today with some additional content, then Capy has a day 1 purchase guaranteed.

If you’re at PAX East this weekend, check them out for yourselves, either in the Xbox booth, or at Capy’s own booth – 15096, and if you see a guy with an AiPT t-shirt, harassing the developers again, say hi!

 

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