Below: Overview

The content material:

Live for platform: PC

Canadian Studio Capybara Games even among indie developers, where every second fancies himself new Jonathan Blow (Jonathan Blow), stands home. By their own admission, the creators are engaged in audiovisual art and design, because the games are made for a long time, painstakingly, and at the output we get something really special. In 2011, they released Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP — a game that has actually become a cult, showing an example of that very audiovisual art.

Two years later, the studio announced Below, In what principles of audiovisual art was she going to apply in relation to a much more pragmatic genre than the atmospheric “pixel” adventure of a Scythian girl with a blade? It is a question of survival built on the mechanics of “bagel”. The task, of course, difficult, the development was a long time and sometimes painful, but after 5 years Below still out, becoming the first game from Capybara Games, which hunt not only praise uncontrollably.

Audiovisual art?

Knowing the creators, it is easy to figure out what their new project can and should be praised for. Already, the introduction should envy many directors and operators: 5 minutes of real time under the enchanting ambient ambient mixed with the sound of waves, rain and thunderstorms, we see how the camera slowly descends from the sky through the lead clouds to a small sailboat lost in the black hole of the ocean which eventually sails into the bay of a certain island and spits out to save even a smaller little man with a blade.

This superb reception in its own simplicity and metaphoric quality gives the player the role of a grain of sand in an ocean of threats. To the sounds of rain and lightning, a man with a blade runs along the shore, through the fields of the highest grass, and around no one — only stone stairs that go up along the walls of a big mountain, mysterious highest towers of black stone, glimpsed in the slots of lightning circles, seem ritual. Yes weird lamp lying on a pedestal in the center of the circle. What, where, when, why are we here, where to go, what is this lantern for?

And why, as we took it, alarm beeps filled the air — as if they were distant, dying either at sea or in space, the ships warn us of an unknown threat? It is not clear.

It is clear only that this will be survival in the style of expressionism, where not only the process is important, but also the tragic, dark, almost gothic mood. And we immediately immerse ourselves in the atmosphere of waiting for threats and uncomfortable riddles that immediately disturb, frighten, and entail their own exciting uncertainty. That is why to create such an atmosphere, the creators, by their own admission, both moved the camera away from the character and reduced the “tutorial” to a minimum, allowing the player to understand what is happening and how the grain of sand survive among this large, insecure hidden.

Below game reviewThe interface here is as minimalistic as the picture as a whole.

Watch yourself, be careful!

In principle, how to survive is understandable. Going into the tower of black stone, we dive lower and lower, floor by floor, we fight, collect resources and prepare something from the rarest bonfires. The fights with all this focus on hardcore — evasion, blocks, search for vulnerabilities and death with two or three hits.

True, endurance is not at all.

From the defeated opponents, crystals fall out that serve as fuel for our magic wonder-lamp — specifically with its help, we open something, activate it, find the keys, unlock new passages and move on. She can in any situations scare her opponents with her light. Well, in principle, it is a more reliable source of illumination than a torch, and anxious to extinguish.

We also collect all sorts of herbs, roots, slices of bread, pebbles, sticks, ropes, and even cut guts out of corpses. You can make food, a medical plaster around the campfire, or mix the ingredients and get a nourishing soup, which immediately removes hunger and thirst and restores health.

Arrows, a new weapon, stronger equipment, elixirs — all really "craft" yourself. There are no definite recipes, which is given by one or another elixir, it is plainly unclear, but the game highlights what ingredients you can combine with. And it pushes for the method of trial and error, for independent research and study. So, we ourselves learn that the hero can go fishing or hunt for chanterelles and wolves, who occasionally meet and behave very peacefully.

Or that you can just drink water from puddles in caves, quenching thirst. Below game reviewThere is always gloomy and unclear what is happening. With this knowledge, we run, funny, forward and with a click "Oh, and what does this still stick to the twigs out of the ground?" then the little red one on the ground — and in the next instant the dead carcass will settle on the ripped body.

And we start all over again — again a small boat, sailing to the island bay, and again the path is repeated right up to the place of the last death, where you can pick up all the lamps and the invaluable magic lamp …

No margin for error

Breathe and start first in Below will have more than once, not two, and not even three. Yes, with the passage of time, having accumulated enough crystals, it will be possible to make a control point from the fire, so that once to return rapidly to this level. Reduce the path to the corpse of the previous hero is also allowed by the open "shortcuts." But still annoyed, running back and forth through familiar locations (“random” doesn’t really change them very much), it happens very often.

Below — really uncomfortable and difficult "survival", which does not forgive mistakes. The enemies become more and more dangerous, bots and golems appear, fights with “bosses” begin. The traps also come across all smarter, they are not always able to immediately see. On the icy levels, we, besides everything else, need to make sure that the hero does not freeze. Below game review"Fog of War" and darkness allow you to build only for short distances, lit by a lamp or a torch.

And the further, the less. Especially the rarest food becomes — you can die from the fact that the game does not triumphantly throw anything out of the food. In part, the problem can be solved by leaving things and resources in advance in our personal warehouse, where the hero is transferred, as he prikornet from at least some fire.

At some point, the creators begin to scold — it seems, with all this hardcore, they still overdo it. And they themselves somewhat shot down so painstakingly built up the atmosphere of exploring something mysterious and unsafe. Since, when it is cold and hungry, it’s empty in the pockets, and it’s still far from the nearest fire, there’s no time for research here — you just run off and “rash”.

Another reason to think about what kind of place it is. *** And yet, despite the underscored ruffiness and unwillingness to somehow help the player (well, practically), Below for me personally, it was one of those rare “survivalists” that I really wanted to go through to the end. Everything is very atmospheric, mysterious and in its own way beautiful. And I am very, very eager to find out how it will all end, what kind of Darkness it is, which at some point itself begins to draw tentacles to the hero, what kind of strange buildings, pedestals and towers made of stone are and where are we finally come.

From this here are a combination of hardcore, atmosphere and secret Capybara Games and came out a unique game. Operating as usual mechanics (not in everything, however, successfully) and speaking in a painfully familiar format, Below she managed to preserve her own narrative and remain first a massive audiovisual expression.

Pros: verified atmosphere of mystery and threat, forcing to enthusiastically explore the environment; difficult but interesting gameplay; elegant minimalist picture; excellent music and overall sound performance.

Minuses: hardcore degrees in some places still cross reasonable boundaries; very often you have to repeat everything at first, and the “random” does not really diversify the levels.

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