UnderMine has been in Early Access for nearly a year. During that time it’s gone from being a well-polished and incredibly enjoyable (albeit very hard) roguelike to a well-polished and incredibly enjoyable (albeit very hard) roguelike with even more content. I feel like you can probably already tell that I like it, but I’ll go on anyway in case you want to know why.
Set in a world called Delvemore, you play as an endless stream of incredibly unfortunate peasants all of whom have to make their way into a pit that will almost definitely kill them. As you go, you have to fight off waves of increasingly powerful enemies and mine gold. You’re going to die, and when you do, gold gets sent back to your little hub, and you can use that to upgrade stuff.
Well, you can upgrade stuff once you’ve found the right person. It’s a constant fight forwards and a perfect example of tiny little bits of progress feeling worthwhile and satisfying. Every trip is worthwhile, but you’re going to die so many times before you actually overcome the various hideous things that await you down below.
Despite the rather depressing rate of success, UnderMine manages to be really quite endearing throughout. Each character has a slightly different portrait and name; they’re all quite cutesy, and so are most of the things you’ll be fighting against. Sure, that yeti-looking thing can kill you in a single strike, but awwww, look at its cute little face.
You’ve also got a cute little pet that follows you around helping you collect gold. Honestly, they’re a little slow most of the time, but it’s still cute. You might be wondering how it is that they could be slow, it’s not like the gold moves, right? Well, there are little slimes lying in wait at all times, all of whom are ready and willing to pick up any gold lying around on the floor and run away with it.
It all adds to the general feeling of warmth that the game gives off, and it’s delightful. The music is excellent too, with wonderful and incredibly catchy tunes backing every single thing that you do. Hell, even the bosses are kind of cute, and that’s despite the fact that the first one spits babies at you. It’s babies, not just, general babies, that wouldn’t be cute.
Pick an axe
The game feels good too. Combat is a mix of thwacking stuff with your pickaxe, jumping to dodge, and throwing your pickaxe like a boomerang. Naturally, all of this can be altered by the items you can find on the way. One of my favourites electrifies your pickaxe, which lets you wipe out huge swathes of enemies with no issue.
You’ll need to take these enemies seriously though, even the most basic enemies can take you out if you get careless. It’s a lot of fun, but it’s also incredibly tough. This is going to put a lot of people off of it, and is my main criticism. While I quite like having my face punched in (digitally, that’s not an invitation or a kink), not everyone is into games that just want to hurt them.
UnderMine is a great roguelike game. It takes an awful lot from the genre’s heaviest hitters, but it manages to make it all entertaining thanks to a hefty dose of generally good vibes, and some very powerful upgrades. The difficulty will put some people off, but if you’re willing to persevere, then there’s an awful lot of game here to be played.
[Reviewed on PC]