Below, the long-awaited new adventure from Sword & Sworcery and Super Time Force developer Capybara Games, isn’t quite the game I expected it to be. Part of that is on the project’s initial secrecy, and part of that is on me for deciding after multiple delays that I’d just stop paying attention to any new tidbits coming out and instead simply show up on launch day, ready to be pleasantly surprised.
If you’re expecting a pretty little zoomed-out Dark Souls or a Zelda-like romp with a heavy emphasis on combat, you will be disappointed. Some of their best elements — like a knack for well-placed secrets and a fully-realized, believable world — make it in. And while you do have a sword, a shield, a bow, and other possible weapons at your disposal, Below is much more about exploration. You’re a fragile little survivor, not an unstoppable hero. To that end, the game leans into permadeath. Hard.
I’m not far enough along for a final assessment, but after 11 hours, I’ve seen some real highs and lows.