As I was browsing a recent Steam Sale, a game called Going Under caught my eye. Its premise combines both my current interests in life: roguelikes and startups.
Fun Fact: Roguelikes are games that are predominantly difficult to play. They are heavily reliant on RNG (Random Number Generator), meaning no two rounds of gameplay are the same. Players usually have to go through the game repeatedly, and in some games, character deaths are permanent.
While this genre might be tedious for some, I enjoy it because it offers more replayability. With every new playthrough, I’ll encounter new ways to fight enemies or find new power-ups. And this experience was exactly what I found with Going Under.
Unpaid interns FTW! (Not IRL though)
Unlike most games where you play a hero who saves the world or at least the princess in a castle, you play as Jackie Fiasco, a new marketing intern at Fizzle Beverages. Fizzle Beverages was recently obtained by Cubicle, the parent company of countless other startups.
Your tasks are simple: fetch coffee and file boring documents. Typical intern jobs.
Oh, and by the way, your superior wants you to fight some enemies that crawled out from the company’s dungeon. Turns out, the enemies were previous ex-employees of failed startups under Cubicle. This is where you’ll actually be spending most of your time in Fizzle Beverages. Despite being the new hire, you’re somehow expected to be the one who destroys the enemies.
The bad news for Jackie, however, is that the enemies will not be fighting her with just their fists. They’ll be wielding the equipment they stole such as pens, keyboards, potted plants, massive thumbtacks and swords. You know, your typical office equipment.
The enemies are no pushovers either, on par with most roguelike games. Some of them will drive cars to run you over and they’ll knock you down, giving others a chance to gang up on you.
In the first few levels, I fumbled a lot as I was struggling to find good power ups that would complement my playstyle. Power ups can give benefits such as more critical hit chance, holding two weapons in a single hand and so on. These power ups are crucial in improving your chances of survival.
These skills are down to RNG as well and this means you may not come across the same skill in one run but not the next. The same goes for the enemies, map layouts and weapons (which also have limited durability), so you can’t rely on a previous strategy to carry you through the game again.
Before each run, you can also assign a coworker as your mentor and they’ll provide you with unique skills such as cheaper shop prices or more skill pickups.
A few more deaths later and after familiarising myself with the enemy’s patterns, I finally reached the boss level… where my ass was easily handed back to the lobby. With a few more tries and through sheer luck on good pickups though, I managed to beat the boss.
Colourful visuals throughout the game
The game is bright, colourful and vibrant. It easily caught my attention.
Enemies typically stand out, but sometimes they can be sneaky, blending in with the colour scheme of the level as they wear the company’s apparel. In each level, especially the first dungeon, you’ll be greeted with a lot of office equipment to get you used to the weapons in the game.
With one of the latest updates to the game, there are now jiggle physics on some of the weapons. Enemies and yourself have rag-doll physics, which is just the cherry on top, making you want to send everything flying around just for that satisfying feeling.
Credit where credit’s due though, the developers were quite creative in making each stage distinct and unique to show off different colour schemes, themes and layout, so that no stage looks the same.
Inside jokes that only startups will relate to
One of my favourite aspects of the game is its satirical take on tech startups. The game doesn’t pull its punches when it comes to making fun of the working environment of a tech startup, which kept me hooked through all the dialogues and character interactions in-game.
For example, Ray, the CEO of Fizzle Beverages is your typical “cool” boss who ignores everything the accountant says, which reminds me of Michael Scott from The Office.
And you’ll be able to witness it through Jackie’s eyes, who is a fresh grad looking for experience in the marketing world. Her boss in the company is Avie, a cutting-edge marketing AI tool. So aside from having to do tasks outside of her job scope, she might not even get any experience in marketing as it is handled by an AI.
If you’re in the startup world yourself, I’m sure you’ll find moments that’ll make you chuckle from how accurately the game makes jokes out of the misrepresented culture of tech startups. (However, there is some truth to them based on articles on the net.)
Even if you save the day, you don’t get paid
If you’re judging Going Under purely as a roguelike, it’s fairly simple and not super punishing. The graphics, the inside jokes, and the roguelike replayability kept me playing for hours.
Sadly, there are not many levels in the game. So if you’re expecting a story that’ll make you cry or a progression in difficulty that’ll kick your butt, you might be better off getting a different game.
As for who would get a better kick out of this game, we’d have to say startup employees would. I mean, you’re literally playing as one. All we’d say about the employers would be, we hope to never meet one like them. Thank goodness we don’t actually have any goblins in the IRL startup world… right?
Featured Image Credit: Vulcan Post