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Going Under combines hard truths (and jokes) about tech startups with similarly hard gameplay

Written by Vulcan Post Published on     4 mins read

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The rogue-like dungeon-crawler game makes millennials and tech startup culture the center of its jokes.

As I was browsing a recent Steam Sale, a game called Going Under caught my eye. Its premise combines both my current interests in life: rogue-like games and startups. While this genre might be tedious for some, I enjoy it because it offers more replayability. With every new playthrough, I’ll encounter new ways to fight enemies or find new power-ups. This experience was exactly what I found with Going Under.

Unlike most games where you play 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: fetch coffee and file boring documents—typical intern jobs.

Oh, and by the way, your superior wants you to fight some enemies that crawled out from the company’s dungeon. It turns out the enemies were previous employees of failed startups under Cubicle. This is where you’ll actually be spending most of your time in Fizzle Beverages. Despite being the new hire, you’re somehow expected to be the one who destroys the enemies.

However, the bad news for Jackie is that the enemies will not be fighting her with just their fists. They’ll be wielding the equipment they stole, such as pens, keyboards, potted plants, massive thumbtacks, and swords. You know, typical office equipment.

The enemies are no pushovers either, on par with most rogue-like games. Some of them will drive cars to run you over, and they’ll knock you down, giving others a chance to gang up on you.

These skills are down to RNG as well, and this means you may come across a skill in one run but not the next. The same goes for the enemies, map layouts, and weapons (which also have limited durability), so you can’t rely on a previous strategy to carry you through the game again.

Before each run, you can also assign a coworker as your mentor, and they’ll provide you with unique skills such as lower shop prices or more skill pickups.

Free Hand, one of the skills you can pick up in the game to help you swing two-handed weapons with just one hand. Screenshot via Vulcan Post.

A few more deaths later, and after familiarizing myself with the enemy’s patterns, I finally reached the boss level… where I was easily sent back to the lobby. With a few more tries and through sheer luck on good pickups, I finally managed to beat the boss.

The game is bright, colorful, and vibrant. It easily caught my attention. Enemies typically stand out, but sometimes they can be sneaky, blending in with the color scheme of the level as they wear the company’s apparel. At each level, especially the first dungeon, you’ll be greeted with office equipment to get you used to the weapons in the game.

With one of the latest updates to the game, there are now jiggle physics on some of the weapons. Enemies and yourself have rag-doll physics, which is just the cherry on top, making you want to send everything flying around just for that satisfying feeling.

Credit where credit’s due. The developers were quite creative in making each stage distinct to show off different color schemes, themes, and layout, so each stage has its own look and feel.

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 pull its punches when it comes to making fun of the working environment of a tech startup, which kept me hooked through all the dialogs and in-game character interactions. For example, Ray, the CEO of Fizzle Beverages, is your typical “cool” boss who ignores everything the accountant says, which reminds me of Michael Scott from The Office.

And you’ll be able to witness it through Jackie’s eyes, who is a fresh grad looking for experience in the marketing world. Her boss in the company is Avie, a cutting-edge marketing AI tool. So aside from having to do tasks outside of her job scope, she might not even get any experience in marketing as an AI handles it.

If you’re in the startup world yourself, I’m sure you’ll find moments that’ll make you chuckle from how accurately the game makes jokes out of the misrepresented culture of tech startups. However, there is some truth to them based on articles online.

If you’re judging Going Under purely as a roguelike, it’s fairly simple and not super punishing. The graphics, the inside jokes, and the rogue-like replayability kept me engaged for hours. Sadly, there are not many levels in the game. So if you’re expecting a story that’ll make you cry or a progression in difficulty that’ll kick your butt, you might be better off getting a different game.

As for who would most enjoy this game, I’d put my money on people working in startups. I mean, you’re literally playing as one. All I’d say about the employers is this: we hope to never meet one like them. Thank goodness we don’t actually have any goblins in the real-life startup world… right?

This article was originally published by Vulcan Post

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