“Below is very unforgiving, you’re basically one hit from death,” Capybara Games’ creative director Kris Piotrowski explains. “We want to make a game where players tippy-toe through the darkness. Knowing that you’re one hit from death prevents players from running into the world and just getting killed.”
This is a step away from Swords & Sworcery, in that game Capybara let players explore the world with little fear of combat - there were battles but they were forgiving.
In Below, death sends you back to the beginning.
When you die in Below you wash up on the shore of the same mysterious island but now playing as a new character. “One of the ideas for the game, conceptually, is that you’re building on the progress of others,” Piotrowski told GameTrailers.
“The game world is persistent. The main areas in the game have items that get moved around from character to character,” he said. So you might find a sword deep in a cavern but it won’t respawn there when you die, it will remain with the body of that character. You’ll have to retread your steps if you want to get it back and continue on your quest.
To ease frustration, though, Capybara do provide quick travel to get through areas you’ve already explored.
Despite your fragility “you’re extremely capable.” As well as your various fighting moves you can dodge, roll, counter, and block with a shield. This is all designed to draw you into Below’s action. You’re invested because you can’t receive a single undefended hit and you can overcome the enemy so long as you move fast enough and learn your strengths.
Below was first announced a year ago during Microsoft’s press conference at E3, it’s good to see more than the teaser shown then but I wish they’d announce some form of release date.