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The Land Beneath Us Review

The Land Beneath Us Review

The Land Beneath Us is the perfect showcase that there’s still room for innovation within the indie game scene. It’s hard to compare the general gameplay flow of this title to anything, and despite it being another roguelike in a pretty saturated market, it carves a place for itself.

The Land Beneath Us is a turn-based roguelike, utilising grid-based movement and combat to create a very satisfying combination of puzzles and combat into an incredibly unique rhythm. More specifically, you attack in each of the four cardinal directions on the grid, assigning weapons to each direction individually. You navigate small individual stages, killing enemies and avoiding hazards that can affect both you and your foes. This leads to some interesting strategies as you can lead some enemies into these traps directly. There’s a lot of decision-making; positioning is crucial, as certain enemy combinations can create near-unavoidable attack patterns, so deciding when to attack or just move is incredibly important. Thanks to the turn-based nature of the game, this isn’t as stressful as it could be in a real-time action title, giving you the time to think about each turn and strategize.

image 2024 06 17 130529553Much of the combat depth comes in the different weapon abilities, along with relics. The former has a multitude of unique abilities, often affecting the grid and movement, such as Knockback, which can knock either you or the enemy back, or Overkill, which has varying effects upon killing an enemy. There are an insane number of weapons with unique effects beyond this, which leads to some fantastic creativity in build crafting and playstyles. Upon obtaining duplicates of weapons or spending gold at a blacksmith, weapons can be upgraded, increasing their damage and improving some weapons' abilities directly at max level. This is further enhanced by the Relic system: items that bestow passive abilities, such as buffing health, damage, and critical hit chance, and even some rare relics giving you chances to entirely avoid damage or a single-use revive.

Once you beat the first area (which functions as a tutorial), you unlock the advanced mechanics: Teleport and Chips. Teleport is precisely how it sounds: a short-range teleport which allows for some last-minute adjustments if you’re in a rough predicament. It’s on a very long cooldown, however, meaning it needs to be used sparingly. Chips are the last piece of gameplay, which allows more precise min-maxing within the gameplay itself. Equipping them allows for unique abilities that depend on your movement; moving in certain grid directions will charge them, and these abilities have solid variety, too, such as a fireball, an AOE stun, and a minor heal.

image 2024 06 17 130546749

The meta-progression of The Land Beneath Us is pretty standard, but it works super well. Throughout runs, you’ll collect Soul, which can be spent on upgrades to multiple stats, such as starting Gold, Health, and Relic slots. There are also Quests: tasks the player can complete over multiple runs, which helps provide a tangible sense of progression, even in failed runs.

The story is passable, but so far, it hasn’t blown me away. You play as Sven, a robot created by The Creator to harvest souls to power technology that will revolutionise humanity. The Creator, however, has been kidnapped, and you’re being sent to find her. It’s a solid story to get the wheels turning, but I can’t say I was invested too heavily. The writing is pretty charming, too: it falls into the “millennial humour” stereotype a little, but it felt mostly self-aware and wasn’t too forced, so it didn’t grate too heavily. As far as the rest of the presentation goes, it’s fantastic; the 2D sprites combined with some of the 3D locations look fantastic, and the music fits the aesthetic of the game well.

The Land Beneath Us is an absolute gem, with a unique gameplay loop and some seemingly Hades-inspired replayability, with a system of modifiers to make replaying stages harder for increased rewards. I did have some minor issues with the difficulty balancing, as the main bosses were so much harder than the basic stages and mini-bosses, but it wasn’t even close to game-ruining. It also feels somewhat too reliant on RNG to upgrade the weapons you’re using, especially as you unlock more weapons. Overall, though, I can say I utterly loved my time with this title.

9.00/10 9

The Land Beneath Us (Reviewed on Windows)

Excellent. Look out for this one.

The Land Beneath Us is a fantastic roguelike, managing to innovate on an already saturated genre to make something truly special.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Jacob Sanderson

Jacob Sanderson

Staff Writer

It's not an obsession if it counts as work...

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