Aggro Crab and Team17’s Going Under is an experiment worthy of note. The title offers a glimpse into the current employment situation of many countries. This is a scenario that may not sound like something that is very fun, however the developers turned it into dungeon crawler material. Yes, in Going Under, hordes of bloodthirsty employees and interns will lash out at you. Don’t delay any further and get ready to go lower and lower with me in my Going Under review on Nintendo Switch!
DID YOU KNOW?
Once upon a time there was a small independent software house in Seattle called Aggro Crab that was started by Nick Kaman and Caelan Pollock. They are two young people with different programming experiences. They had the idea of turning their past full of hostility into startups of all kinds into a game.
Seattle, their hometown, from 2019 turned the minds of the two young people into a large, wild, and oppressive dungeon. The two populated it with neurotic and caricatured characters. With this, the Going Under project was born. This is an unusual title, full of exploration and survival with a touch of satire.
Team17 also took part in the work as a publisher. Anyone who remembers a certain video game series called Worms knows that this software house has some experience in terms of unusual titles with full of potential. Going Under debuted on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Steam on September 24th.
JACKIE CAN’T BE SLACKY
In Going Under you will be Jackie, an intern just hired in the dilapidated marketing department of Fizzle, the company that produces the carbonated drink with an undefined taste. Fizzle, in turn, has just been acquired by Cubicle. Jackie soon realizes that the work she will have to do in the company has little to do with marketing and communication. They threw her into the deep basements of Fizzle.
All the old and dead startups incorporated by the Cubicle are in these basements. The employees of the small semi-bankrupt startups, under the exploitative influence of the Cubicle, have turned into zombies and demonic creatures. Jackie, who is totally unconvinced and annoyed, is pushed by the head of the office, Marv, to clean up the company’s basement from the inconvenient presence of demonic workers.
Moved by the fear of losing the job she has just earned and in the blind hope of carrying out this task, she ventures into the company dungeons. The plot staged by Aggro Crab, although simple and linear, is convincing. Between one dungeon and another, her story spins in an interesting and believable way.
In the process of moving forward in the game, Jackie deepens the relationship with the other colleagues of the company. These are all more or less memorable, well built, and it will not be long in getting attached to them. Aggro Crab also filled the various scenes with sarcastic, surreal, irreverent, and often hilarious exchanges that will make you smile.
ANYTHING IS A WEAPON
Once the satirical box of Going Under has opened, you will arrive at the heart of the experience. Although the appearance somehow masks it, Going Under is a roguelike. As for Jackie, you can explore the various undergrounds of the company. Each of these has three different levels whose environments are generated procedurally.
This essentially implies the fact that they created the maps of the various dungeons in real time. Ok, I understand that Going Under is a roguelike, but is it original in some way? Yes, definitely! The major feature of the title is the freedom of approach to combat. The latter is very basic and intuitive (so much so that there are not even tutorials to introduce it), and focuses everything on weapons.
In the game, there are not even preset weapons. Anything blunt enough that you come across will turn into a mean weapon. Each of these will have specific strengths and attack values. Ultimately, everyone and everything will be able to transform your gaming experience. The water guns shoot jets at enemies and make your movements staid and lazy.
With a ping pong paddle in hand, on the contrary, you will become supersonic human bullets. In this, Aggro Crab has somehow given freshness and variety to the combat system. However, the settings of the different levels become a bit repetitive in the long run and make the exploration very mechanical and predictable, even if it is generated procedurally.
Aggro Crab’s title on Nintendo Switch is a real challenge. From the second floor of the first dungeon, thunderous bludgeons will rain down on you. You will want to learn how to master the various mops, tablet pens, and keyboards that you will find around as soon as possible. Otherwise, the hearts of your health bar will become a memory. The bosses of the game are the mirror of the bastard and dehumanized leaders.
Defeating them, in addition to the purest satisfaction, will guarantee you interesting permanent power ups. Basically, every racket you throw at them will be well spent. As you play, you will get additional bonuses that can be purchased with specific points obtainable by facing the dungeons. Even when you fail to defeat the bosses, you can still take home a handful of points.
By getting your hands on the various bonuses, you will be able to soften the experience in some way. There are also various lootable skills in the dungeons that you can improve. Some of these are really useful, such as the ability to stun enemies after throwing a critical hit. You also have the option to use “apps”, a sort of bonus (also lootable in dungeons), usable for only 1-3 times each.
Probably, due to an extreme stylistic choice, the descriptions of these bonuses are very weird. Aggro Crab, in this way, perhaps wanted to suggest the idea that Jackie’s corporate smartphone has malfunctioned. In the early days you will use these apps almost randomly, trying to learn the meanings of their icons to use them more carefully the next time.
When using these power ups and you are still struggling to reach or defeat the bosses, in the main menu you can change various settings relating to the game difficulty. This way you can instantly make the game less severe. Finally, the longevity is not at an all-time high and it will take you about fifteen hours to complete.
A COLOR BLAST
Going Under has definitely succeeded from an aesthetic point of view. Aggro Crab designers have made Jackie’s depressing and flat reality an explosion of color. This is an ominous story in a dystopian universe, and yet everything seems to come out of a children’s picture book. The cell shading gives life to super deformed cute and funny characters.
The game world, stylized and caricatured, appears fresh and vibrant. They use the colors and lighting in a sophisticated way and make everything very pleasing to the eye. The 2D illustrations of the characters are also excellent. The contrast between the bitter essence of the story and the hilarity of the visual component is practically irresistible. The latter, together with the continuous sarcasm of the dialogues, dilutes the underlying bitterness of Jackie’s story.
The audio used in the game is very repetitive, however it still contributes to the pleasantly sophisticated rendering of the title. On the Nintendo Switch everything goes smoothly, no frame drops to record, even in the exciting phases. The console’s HD rumble function also makes fighting enjoyable as each weapon has a different feedback and you will certainly enjoy trying them all.
Do you want to try Aggro Crab and Team17’s Going Under? What do you think of my Going Under review on Nintendo Switch? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below. Are you interested in more roguelike games? Check out our reviews for Neon Abyss, The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth, Starward Rogue AuGMENTED, and Caveblazers.
Going Under is a pleasant surprise that is intelligent, original, irreverent, fun, and enjoyable. The Seattle-based software house has transformed an uncomfortable and very delicate reality into a concept of game and an object of satire.
- Fun, clever and original
- Varied and free combat system
- Visually full of charisma
- Successful characters and dialogues
- In the long run, exploration loses appeal
- Low longevity