Mine, Die, Upgrade, Repeat
Undermine is an action-adventure rogue-like with a bit of RPG thrown into the pot. Using an endless supply of peasants, the player is tasked with discovering the secrets hidden deep within the Undermine. With 100’s of combinations of relics, curses, artefacts, and blessings coupled with the ever-shifting nature of the dungeon, no two runs are the same.
Undermine offers a variety of mobs, traps, and challenging bosses to defeat; all whilst trying to discover new secrets and helping lost NPC’s to bolster your shops in the main HUB. Undermine offers an endless endgame experience that can be repeated. Finally, if this was not enough content, the title offers a separate mine after the main campaign is completed called the Othermine, which is a traditional rogue-mode experience.
Undermine starts by introducing the player to the game through a tutorial that runs through all the basics to get you ready for exploring the mines. This is nicely portrayed through little wooden signs dotted throughout the tutorial run that you read for instructions (side-note, achievement hunters out there might want to take this opportunity to start smashing these signs as you will need a total of 20 destroyed).
Once the tutorial is done your real adventure begins. You start under-powered, under-stocked and with no NPC’s to offer you supplies or upgrades; the only way is up…. well in this case, down, into the Undermine.
With different dungeons to explore, you will start off in the Goldmine (1-4) before progressing to more areas as you explore further into the depths of the mine. Collecting keys, bombs, relics, blessings, artefacts, and curses along your adventures to aid or hinder your progress. Meet and help new shopkeepers for the over-world HUB, these will task you with a simple mission; for example, defeat the first boss, or collect 3 different types of special mushrooms. Avoid deadly traps and face-off against monstrous bosses.
Gameplay + Mechanics
The game plays as you would expect from a rogue-like title, the controls and mechanics are implemented to a good degree, although some aspects left me frustrated with the game.
The attack and mining mechanics work smoothly, with no issues at all; there was never a time I was annoyed that I should have stopped a pilfer running off with my gold or I should not have died to a certain mob due to controlling the character’s actions, it just blends well.
However, that jump mechanic is a nightmare. Jumping in this title is horrific, due to the camera angle and graphic style of the game, it is very difficult to determine where the character is jumping to and whether you are going to land where you want to. The jumping mechanic works OK for the dodging aspect, but I do believe this title would have benefited from implementing a roll or dash mechanic rather than the high jump that is currently applied. The same type of puzzles could still be completed with a dash or a roll, it would just have meant that less frustration was built up due to all the errors that come with jumping in this title.
Undermine is pleasing to the eye, it has a fun graphical style which is a joy to experience. Certain techniques have been used well, such as slight changes to the way a wall looks so you know there is a secret to uncover with explosives, or when you destroy all the lights in the room and you are left with darkness surrounding your character.
The glint of treasure works well, and the effects used for certain powers like fire and electricity are done very well too. The bosses are put together great with a fair amount of detail used for the graphics style chosen for the game, but my favourites are the mimic’s, these are by far the best-looking and animated mobs in the game; in my personal opinion.
Along with the good, comes the bad, and Undermine is no exception. Some of the mobs do not hold the same level of detail, their movements do not seem fluid enough and it causes a somewhat jarring experience whilst exploring.
Achievements + Replay-Value
Anyone who knows me, knows I am a sucker for a good achievement list; Undermine has not let me down on this one. A whopping 92 achievements can be earned for this title, and they are a nice selection of tasks too. There are your standard natural-progression achievements, defeat X boss, thwart X amount of Pilfers, acquire X number of curses at once etc; all of which, are pretty simple and just require time and patience.
Then there are the more challenging achievements, which I think are put into the game well and encourages more playthroughs positively. After coming to terms with how the game plays and your goals etc, the achievement list gives you certain tasks to complete which would not usually be done naturally, for example, defeating the first boss with no upgrades, or skipping the second boss and taking the alternative path to the next area, or even stealing from the Pilfer shop (this is cleverly done with the use of a cloning potion).
The achievements are great for those who enjoy this style game, but if you are looking for a quick and easy completion, this is not the title for you. I see this game having a solid amount of hours needed for the 100% completion, but I believe the time will be spent enjoying this title, rather than seeing it as a needless grind like other games of its genre.
As mentioned in the overview, there is an endless endgame which gives an infinite amount of replay-ability; and the achievements mean that you will want to keep playing and retrying anyway – overall, it will keep you coming back for more for countless hours.
With an endless supply of peasants, you will keep diving deep into the Undermine to discover its secrets whilst hoarding that precious gold.
Overall, a solid title in the genre which offers plenty of content to enjoy and some well-implemented visuals; only let down by some frustrating mechanics and slight graphical flaws.