It Lurks Below is a retro-styled 2D game by David Brevik, one of the creators of Diablo. You start the game with a menu that allows you to customize a character, and choose a class. Choosing a class gives you access to different skills and weapons, while restricting the use of the weapons from other classes. The character customization was rudimentary, and did not allow for much variety, so I did not spend much time on the details. The game drops the player into an unknown world with no backstory, simply telling the player to defeat the evils that lurk below.
As I just stated, the game has no story, and any bits of plot that you do uncover do not make much sense, why is the player made to kill the evil bosses? There is no dialogue between the bosses and player, and the only force to guide you is a stream of popup quests. There is a story outside of the game, about searching for epic loot and building a village for yourself, but none of that could have been figured out in my time playing the game without researching the game first. Most people would look at this game and immediately think that it is a copy of Terraria. I think this game instead copies Starbound, another game similar to Terraria. The difference between these three games is that Starbound has an overarching storyline, with quests that progress a meaningful story. It Lurks Below would do well to add a story that guides the player towards progress instead of simply prompting them with quests given from thin air.
The sound design of It Lurks Below is where I find myself most disappointed. When the game began, I thought it was still loading, since there was no sound or music to indicate the game was not in fact still loading. I went on to notice that there was almost no music and very little sound added to the game. I did some digging and learned that a soundtrack and the addition of music is supposed to be implemented at some point, but this information was mentioned in May of 2018. Again, Starbound has some of my favorite videogame music, and includes tracks that fit any situation. It Lurks Below would do well to follow in its footsteps.
The graphics of this game disappoint, the game just looks unfinished to me, which is true, I just hope that some more polish can be added before development is finished. A lot of the user interface is jumbled; boxes of text overflow, text overlaps, and elements just sometimes seem to move out of place. The animations are very simple, and some of the design choices don’t make sense to me: why is there a flying eyeball that shoots spiders? That brings me to my next topic of review, the gameplay.
It Lurks Below is a laborious and sometimes impossible game to play. The first mission is to make some tools for yourself, this can be done with sticks and rocks, but the issue comes later in the game. If you don’t kill a monster that spawns other monsters, you will not be able to play this game, because the second that the quests tell you to start digging below, you will run into hundreds of skeletons raised by a necromancer or hundreds of spiders spawned by an eyeball. Once you are thoroughly torn apart by the torrent of enemies, some of your belongings will be lost, and you will start again on the surface. Once you have respawned, the game will essentially be over, with a very limited amount of sticks and stones on the surface you will be hard pressed to create another axe and pick. Even if you can gather some materials for your tools, you will likely be killed by enemies on the surface if you lost your weapon on death. The game is also focused on loot and village building, both parts of the game I was unable to reach during my time playing due to the previously mentioned issues. At the part of the game I am in, there is no mention of loot or where to obtain it, the answer would be underground, with the hundreds of skeletons that maimed me seconds after stepping foot six blocks under the surface.
Overall, the game seems very unbalanced, with poor sound usage, simple animations, messy UI, and a difficulty curve after death; I don’t think I would find many people playing this game for more than an hour at most. David Brevik came from amazing games like Diablo, and I know he has it in him to make even more fantastic games, but this one just isn’t worth $19.99/£15.49 (on Steam). It Lurks Below is about as exciting as Diablo Immortal.
It Lurks Below (Reviewed on Windows)
Minor enjoyable interactions, but on the whole is underwhelming.
Overall, the game seems very unbalanced, with poor sound usage, simple animations, messy UI, and a difficulty curve after death.