Ba-da-da-ba-da-dun-un-nu-nu. What’s the deal with Going Under?! Are you a communications intern at a carbonated meal replacement start-up or a dungeon-crawling crusader slaying the beasts of failed venture capital projects past? Much like airline food, who’s really to say.
Going Under is a game lampooning the start-up Silicon Valley hell world of corporate culture and its accompanying Memphis design aesthetic. It sends you, Jackie the unpaid intern, into the depths of failed start-ups past to purge their dungeons of monsters and get sick, randomly-generated loot drops along the way. Basically, just imagine The Binding of Isaac, but swap out the satanism for corporatism and the crying children of the damned for hipster goblins, thotty demons, and block chain bone-bros.
You’ll be hacking-and-lacking, dungeon-crawling and Zoom-calling, as well as boss-fighting and boss-firing in this rogue-like adventure. Between the charming cast of characters’ cutesy little dialogue sequences and the sorrow of having an unpaid gig at a company born to fail, you’ll also be running through the randomly-generated floors of failed start-ups past.
But what if you’re jumping into the game for the first time? What if the term rogue-like sounds like a knock-off X-Men character? Well, you’re in luck, because I’ve sunk enough time into the game to know what a rogue-like is and how to lose hours of your life to the genre.
For starters, a rogue is a game that’s a real asshole, making you restart and redo your progress every time you die. Think Binding of Isaac, Spelunky, FTL, or the titular Rogue as examples.
A rogue-like such as Going Under maintains the die-and-restart progression but also adds a sort-of progression system through leveling, unlocking items, or combinations of the two.
Because of its pseudo-progression, it’s much easier to pick up Going Under and actually feel like you’re accomplishing something after a few hours of play, because you are. While Going Under isn’t the longest or most content-rich rogue-light out there— it takes maybe less than 15 hours to get through—it does have a constant string of rewards to keep you engaged and seeking that sweet dopamine hit of having a skill certified by your employer.
But I’ve split into reviewing the game, and that’s not what we’re here for. Take my word for it: Going Under is worth losing a dozen hours of your life to, and here are my Five tips to do that as effectively as possible.
To start with, Going Under centers all of its action around the three different randomly-generated dungeons themed around failed start-up companies that Fizzle, the meal replacement seltzer company for which you’re interning, shares office space with.
You have the goblin-infested gig work start-up analog to troll through, a skeevy demon-possessed dating app start-up to exorcise, and spooky scary crypto-currency mining skeletons to send shivers down your spine.
But the first thing you should do about all of three of these dungeons is take them in order. Going Under sets certain milestones to unlock new dungeons before you’ve finished the previous one. While jumping ahead to the second or third dungeon of the game may seem appealing, I wouldn’t recommend it to newcomers, since the skill progression system in the game will greatly influence the success of your latter dungeon runs. Stay tuned for more sick deets on leveling and the best ways to use skills to your advantage later in the article.
Starting and sticking to the first dungeon, Joblin, is your best bet since it throws the most straightforward enemy types at you and is the easiest of the three to complete side objectives for, which we’ll also be delving into later in the article.
Another handy tip is to simply take your time going through each floor of a dungeon. There’s no time limit to completing each floor, so be sure to take your time and explore. Each floor also provides one optional combat encounter you can skip, but if you want a boost to your health, cash, or abilities, you probably shouldn’t skip it. That being said, these optional combat encounters will remain available as you go from floor to floor in the dungeon, so don’t rush too much.
Lastly, remember to talk with the shopkeepers. If you talk to them, they won’t provide you with anything other than some snappily-written dialog, but, you know, don’t miss out on those cool little bits of flavor text.
And that brings us to the bread-and-butter of the game, combat. Jackie’s moveset is the standard third person hacking-and-slashing affair. You have a light and heavy attack, a dodge roll, a lock-on, and you can pick up and throw things.
The two tips which will get you furthest in Going Under are don’t always lock-on and remember to release the lock-on in order to dodge roll. It sounds simple enough, but in the heat of combat, when goblins are throwing exploding coffee cans at you and a bunch of bespectacled coding imps are jabbing at you with spears, it can be easy to forget.
Another easily overlooked aspect to combat is that thrown items can do massive amounts of damage. While you can only hold three items/weapons at once, be sure to pick up at least one throwable item, particularly the skulls or orbs, since they bounce when thrown.
Lastly, don’t spend all your money in one place before the final boss floor. Bosses in Going Under are particularly damage-spongy and will require you to be buffed out with skills, an extended health bar, and some high-level weapons before taking them on, all of which can be bought at the shop on the last floor before the fight.
And for the final set of tips, we have mentors and skills. This is where the progression aspect of Going Under’s rogue-like genre comes in. The first major progression path in the game is the side gigs like walking a dog through a dungeon, defeating enemies with a bricked cell phone, and drinking fizzle, which will all unlock more skills from mentors when equipped. As I mentioned early, grinding away at these side gigs is best done in the Joblin dungeon, since it’s the easiest to get through.
iest to get through.
The second progression system is getting your skills verified. Skills appear randomly in the dungeon and can be unlocked with a secondary currency you collect in the dungeons. But the key aspect of skills progression is having them verified and equippable before entering a dungeon by using and leveling them up on each run.
First and foremost, don’t sleep on leveling up your mentor relationships and collecting new skills. Many of the more-interesting and, more importantly, game-breaking skills and mentor abilities come through later in the game. Also, pay attention to which mentor, quest, and/or skills will work synergistically together.
For instance, one of the early side missions for Tappi is to procure a coffee machine for the office, which can only be bought on the first floor of the Joblin dungeon. Simple enough, right? Wrong!
Since the coffee machine has a high price tag and is only on the first floor of the Joblin dungeon,, it’s almost impossible to scrounge up enough cash to pay for it on the floor it’s available on. However, there are workarounds, such as racking up the debt. One of the first perks you unlock through another side mentor is the company credit card, which lets you spend money you don’t have as long as you’re okay with the consequences. There’s also the penny punching skill you can equip after being certified, but recommending penny punching over going into debt just doesn’t feel right.
And yeah, that’s my spiel on Going Under. If you’ve ever wanted to live out the experience of having a dead-end internship at a failing company, I’m sure summer internship applications are widely open, but if you want the experience of a useless internship while fighting the ghostly hordes of failed start-ups past, then I’d recommend picking up Going Under. The game is available across all platforms for around twenty bucks.