Below is the elegantly designed dungeon crawler game, from Canadian developer Capybarra Games, where players control a miniature hero in a beautiful procedurally generated land waiting to be explored.

The PAX demo I played begins with my tiny hero arriving on a mysterious island. With no set mission given to me, and little to no backstory, I am free to explore this massive land. Capybarra is essentially putting you out in this world and letting you dictate the story. They want you to explore, figure things out on your own.

As I moved on with my playthrough I came to a fork in the road, and without hesitation I took the path to the left.  As I walked onward on this path I came upon what seemed to be an abandoned lighthouse. There wasn’t any loot to pick up, no enemies to kill, or any hints as to why this lighthouse was so empty and if there ever was anyone there. Co-founder of Capybarra Games, Nathan Vella, told TwoDashStash that though nothing was found at the abandoned lighthouse I did learn not to go there any more. Trail and error is Below’s version of a tutorial.

below combat

I was ultimately led in the right direction where I came to the entrance of a dungeon. I was so intrigued by the art design of the game and its unique use of the fog-of-war mechanic, that I became unaware of my surroundings and soon found my mini hero punctured by multiple spikes. Trail and error again… I learned to pay attention.

It was also in the dungeon that I encountered my first enemy, a red-glowing creature that flew around in the dungeon. Attacking such a varmint can be accomplished in various ways. First, there is a sword and shield that the hero is equipped with by default which can be used to swing away at the enemy by using the attack button, or you can tap the shield button twice to use it as a weapon too. Later on in the demo I found a bow with arrows that I could use for distant attacks, but the arrows were limited to ten. However, if the arrow landed somewhere near, it could be picked up again for reuse. There was also a spear I was introduced to that let out a more powerful blow the longer I held the attack trigger. If I ever found myself in danger I could hit the run-button in quick secession, which allowed my little guy to quickly dash out of danger, thus giving him extra time to drink a potion and regain his health.

bridge below

Exploring helps tremendously in Below. The more you explore the more items you come upon. Some of these items may be helpful, but others might hinder the character. For example, eating grass can slow down your bleeding, giving you supplementary time to find a way to fully heal yourself. Eating a mushroom expands the fog-of-war in an area that hasn’t already been explored, or you can pick up a simple torch that reveals where hidden dangers lay.

The game is  moderately punishing and you will die a few times. What makes death so exciting in Below is that you come back to the beginning of the dungeon as a new hero ready to explore a newly procedurally generated dungeon layout. Another cool fact about coming back as another character, is that you can find the previous hero’s body laying in the spot he died and loot it to gain back the items he might have had on him before he died.

islandSunset below

Comparing this game to a bunch of other great games does it no justice.  Below is unique in its own right and will be a game remembered for a long time to come.

Below is do to release on the Xbox One and Windows PC sometime in 2014… hopefully.

About The Author

Founding Editor

Founding Editor of TwoDashStash and video game freak. Jensen's first game was, of course, the original Super Mario Bros. on the NES. Since then, life has not been the same.

  • Console Gamer

    Reminds me of Demon’s Souls, where you also find your avatar’s corpse to recover lost items. I wonder if it’s going to be as punishing.

    • CrisJ

      From what I got to play, It wasn’t as punishing as Demon Souls