While available on Xbox and PC for over a year, Capy’s latest title Below took its sweet time arriving on a Sony platform. Luckily, this extra time was taken to craft a whole new mode, and ultimately this ends up being the best version of the game you can play. The problem is, even in this form, the release leaves quite a bit to be desired.
The PS4 version retains the original version of Below with the 'Survive' mode. This leans more heavily into its roguelike elements, and retains a much more punishing difficulty level, where even one misstep can spell doom. Block at the wrong time, or dash too far, and you have to start from the beginning. Mercifully, the game does offer an abundance of shortcuts to open, early on no less. This makes things much more palatable as the game’s pace is of a much more deliberate and slow tempo.
The all-new 'Explore' mode ratchets the difficulty way down, has fewer things you need to micromanage, and generally offers a more enjoyable experience. This allows the real stars of Below to shine: the art and music. With fewer things vying for your attention, it’s easier to appreciate just how gorgeous the cavernous, procedural environments really are. This enables Jim Guthrie’s incredible music to stand out more as well, though oftentimes, the only sound is the ambience offered by the caves, which is equally as masterful as the music.
Unfortunately, neither mode really does a good job of giving you a real reason to progress deeper. The combat, though weighty and satisfying, gets monotonous fairly quickly. The motivation to explore is almost entirely up to you, as the game really doesn’t see fit to tell you much. Yes, the environments are gorgeous, but Below winds up having the opposite problem of many games, in that there isn’t enough hand-holding. We found ourselves constantly craving more information, only for Below to not provide it.