While browsing a recent Steam offering, a game called Going under He caught my attention. Its premise combines my two current interests in life: roguelikes and startups.
Fun fact: Roguelikes are predominantly difficult games to play. They are highly dependent on RNG (Random Number Generator), which means that no two game rounds are the same. Players generally have to go through the game repeatedly, and in some games, character kills are permanent.
While this genre can be tedious for some, I enjoy it because it offers more playability. With each new game, I will find new ways to fight enemies or find new powers. And this experience was exactly what I found when I sank.
FTW unpaid interns! (Not IRL though)
Unlike most games where you play as a hero who saves the world or at least the princess in a castle, you play as Jackie Fiasco, a new marketing intern at Fizzle Beverages. Fizzle Beverages was recently acquired by Cubicle, the parent company of countless other startups.
Your tasks are simple: find coffee and file boring documents. Typical internal jobs.
Oh, and by the way, your superior wants you to fight some enemies that came out of the company dungeon. Turns out the haters were former employees of failed startups under Cubicle. This is where you Really spend most of your time at Fizzle Beverages. Despite being the new hire, somehow you are expected to be the one to destroy the enemies.
The bad news for Jackie, however, is that enemies won’t fight her with just their fists. They will be wielding the equipment they stole, such as pens, keyboards, potted plants, huge thumbtacks, and swords. You know your typical office equipment.
Enemies aren’t easy prey either, on par with most roguelike games. Some of them will drive cars to run you over and knock you down, giving others a chance to join you.
In the early levels, I lost a lot while struggling to find good powers that would complement my playstyle. Power-ups can bring benefits like increased critical strike chance, holding two weapons in one hand, etc. These power-ups are crucial to improving your chances of survival.
These skills are also RNG dependent and this means that you may not find the same skill in one race but not the next. The same goes for enemies, map skins, and weapons (which also have limited durability), so you can’t rely on a previous strategy to get you through the game again.
Before each race, you can also assign a co-worker as your mentor who will provide you with unique skills, such as cheaper store prices or more acquired skills.
A few more kills later and after getting acquainted with the enemy’s patterns, I finally made it to the boss level … where my butt was easily thrown back into the lobby. However, with a few more tries and thanks to sheer luck with good pickups, I managed to beat the boss.
Colorful images throughout the game.
The game is bright, colorful, and vibrant. It caught my attention easily.
Enemies generally stand out, but can sometimes be cunning, blending into the level’s color scheme while wearing company clothing. In each level, especially in the first dungeon, you will be greeted with a large amount of office equipment to get used to the weapons of the game.
With one of the latest updates to the game, there are now physical movements on some of the weapons. Enemies and yourself have ragdoll physics, which is just the cherry on top, making you want to send everything flying just for that satisfying feeling.
Credit where credit is due though, the developers were quite creative in making each stage distinct and unique to show off different color schemes, themes, and layout so that no stage looks the same.
Inside jokes that only startups will relate to
One of my favorite aspects of the game is its satirical take on tech startups. The game doesn’t go the extra mile when it comes to poking fun at the working environment of a tech startup, which kept me hooked through all the dialogue and character interactions in the game.
For example, Ray, the CEO of Fizzle Beverages is the typical “cool” boss who ignores everything the accountant says, which reminds me of Michael Scott from The Office.
And you will see it through the eyes of Jackie, who is a recent graduate seeking experience in the world of marketing. His boss at the company is Avie, a cutting-edge marketing artificial intelligence tool. So aside from having to perform tasks outside the scope of your work, you may not even have marketing experience as it is handled by an AI.
If you’re in the startup world, I’m sure you’ll find moments that will make you laugh at the precision with which the game jokes about the distorted culture of tech startups. (However, there is some truth to them based on articles on the net).
Even if you save the day, you don’t get paid
If you are judging sinking simply as a roguelike, it is quite simple and not very punishing. The graphics, inside jokes, and roguelike replayability kept me playing for hours.
Unfortunately, there are not many levels in the game. So if you’re hoping for a story that will make you cry or a progression in difficulty that will kick your butt, you better get a different game.
As for who would benefit best from this game, we would have to say that the startup’s employees would. I mean, you are literally playing as one. All we would say about employers would be that we hope we will never find one like them. Thank goodness we don’t really have goblins in the IRL startup world … do we?
Featured Image Credit: Vulcan Post