Announced during last year’s E3, Capybara Games have been virtually silent about their visually arresting roguelike. Besides a short trailer we’ve had essentially nothing come out from the studio since then.
"Promotion, marketing, PR: they take a lot of time away from actually making the game,” Capybara co-founder, Nathan Vella, told Edge. “So having these last nine months or so to really work on the game has meant that it's come a long way since we first showed anything."
Now, though, now they’re ready to start showing off Below and it’s looking wonderful.
Below’s a roguelike, but, unlike Dungeons of Dredmor and The Binding of Isaac, it also has a story. Being a Capybara game, that story is likely to be told with a light hand - this is the studio that brought us Swords & Sworcery, after all. There are sections of the game which are crafted hubs, made by the developers, and other parts which are procedurally generated. Through exploring both you’ll unfold the tale of the island you’re travelling across.
It’s not simply a game about exploration, though. The combat is hard, Dark Souls hard. Hits have impact, a couple will kill you as easily as they would kill a monster. To make even the weakest of the world’s enemies a threat, Capybara Games have included a bleed system. Take a sharp hit and you’ll start bleeding, take a couple more and you’ll start bleeding faster. The only way to stop the bleeding is to retreat to a safe place and patch yourself up (if you have bandages).
“That’s kind of the ebb and flow of the game,” creative director Kris Piotrowski told Edge. “You enter into a combat situation, you do your best to navigate through it, and if you get nicked on the way, you have to retreat and dip into the survival system. Part of the game flow is preparing yourself for harder areas.”
Capybara’s decided to make progress persistent, too. While this means your exploration isn’t undone, doors remain unlocked and open, it also means that if your character dies holding a quest item then you have to track down the body to get it back. Below sounds difficult. Exciting but difficult.
"Below is definitely the biggest, and I guess conceptually hardest, videogame that we've made," Piotrowski explained to Edge. "The procedural element does have an aspect to it where, the moment you lock that stuff down, all of a sudden a gigantic chunk of the game just works. We've been working primarily on that, making sure that every single level that's generated is interesting to explore, and has a variety of different things to think about."
That means different enemies, all armed with different weapons and using them in different ways. Through multiple runs at the island you will learn how the different enemy types move and respond to you. You are able to arm yourself with different weapons, completely changing the way you take part in combat.
In the nine months since Below was revealed the game’s come along a lot. There’s still no word of a release date but as soon as there is we’ll let you know. Do read the rest of that Edge feature. It’s packed with info.