By Michael Fontanini / July 14th, 2021
|Release Date||February 11, 2021 (Switch)
August 6, 2020 (Steam, Xbox)
|Genre||Roguelike, Adventure, Action, RPG|
|Platform||Nintendo Switch, PC (Steam), Xbox + Game Pass|
|Age Rating||ESRB: Everyone 10+|
The UnderMine has recently been plagued by powerful tremors. Naturally, it is up to you to delve into its depths to find out why. To make matters worse, the blacksmith has gone missing. As a result, the forge is unmanned, meaning you cannot get equipment upgrades until he is rescued. Furthermore, he is not the only one caught in the mines in need of your help. Can you rescue them all and uncover the mystery of the quakes?
As your adventure begins, the shops in the hub area are all unmanned. By some terribly inconvenient coincidence, all the shopkeepers are lost in the mines! You’ll need to rescue each one to unlock their shops. This doesn’t actually matter since you have no gold to go shopping with yet anyway.
Speaking of unlocking things, there are many locked doors in the mines, and some chests that require keys. They can be found randomly, or sometimes purchased at shops.
The ladder going down into the floor in the room pictured above is the entrance to the mines. Entering it initiates a new run through the mines. The first five floors are the mines, followed by the Delvemore Dungeons, and more. As you might expect, the levels are procedurally generated.
An interesting story wrinkle is that you don’t just control one character. Each time you die, you’ll respawn in the hub as a different peasant. The idea is that each time one peasant dies, another takes on the quest. You can change which one you are by using the mirror in the first room of the hub area, though.
With the blacksmith back in business, you can get several types of permanent equipment upgrades. The upgrades in the hub area make up UnderMine‘s permanent progression system, and each upgrade applies to all peasants. For example, buying a tunic upgrade increases your max health. A pick upgrade increases your base melee damage, etc. There are also upgrades for potions and bombs. Most of these things can be upgraded many times, but the price gets increasingly steep.
As gold is super important for buying upgrades, you can also upgrade your gold bag. However, this doesn’t increase its capacity, but rather decreases the amount of gold lost on death. That death penalty removes a certain percentage of the gold you have at the moment your character dies.
Gold can be obtained several ways. If you see gold nuggets in a wall, you can attack it with your pick to mine the gold. It may also appear embedded in rocks in the middle of the room. Gold can also be found in larger quantities in certain chests, or by defeating a formidable boss monster. Additionally, it appears in larger amounts in deeper areas of the mines.
You’ll have to be careful, as collecting gold comes with a catch. Whenever gold lands on the ground, several Pilfers will rush into the room in an attempt to grab it before you can! If they succeed, you’ll need to attack them before they escape with a piece, especially if it’s a larger, more valuable piece. Fortunately, this is not as annoying as it may sound, though. As your adventure progresses, some new types of Pilfers will start appearing, as well.
As with other roguelikes, UnderMine is loaded with items that give you various benefits. You can find items on pedestals as you explore the mines. Many of them give you permanent buffs for the current run, while others are limited to a few uses. Potions give you temporary buffs or debuffs, and come in a variety of shapes and colors.
You’ll also discover a ton of blessings and curses in the game. These bestow various perks, or curses, upon you. There are places in the mines where you can remove curses, but generally only one at a time. You’ll also occasionally bump into a shop while exploring the depths, or even secret rooms. The entrance to a secret room can even appear in another secret room.
Occasionally, while wandering about in UnderMine, you’ll find a blueprint. Depending on the item it represents, it unlocks a new item for crafting at either the blacksmith or the potion shop. This gives you one instance of the item that you can take with you on your next run through the dungeons. You can only take in one item per run this way. Furthermore, this also enables that item to begin appearing randomly within the mines. Crafting requires a resource other than gold, though. Thorium is rather rare at first, but becomes a bit more common to find once you reach the Delvemore Dungeon after the first boss.
You may have noticed the yellow bird icon in the top right, and you can see it on the character in the image below. That is a pet, and there are others to unlock. The bird can fly around and pick up gold nuggets for you. That doesn’t mean you won’t still have to deal with those pesky Pilfers, though. Pets can also level up on their own periodically. You’ll also rescue a few dogs in the mines, who will then appear in the rooms of the hub area. You can pet them any time by interacting with them.
The gameplay in UnderMine is quite enjoyable. Most of the time the game is pretty fair, but sometimes you’ll get a really cheap room. In some cases I’ve had several consecutive bad rooms that cost me a significant amount of health. There are healing items, though they are usually fairly rare. There is also a special item that makes it so every shop you encounter has a free piece of food available. It won’t heal you massively or anything, though. Anyway, one other gameplay issue is that the game gets a bit grindy as upgrade prices ramp up.
The mini map in the screenshot below may look too large, but you can change its size by pressing up on the d-pad (when using a Pro Controller). Furthermore, in Settings you can choose to auto-hide it during combat, and change its opacity. This is important, as otherwise it may sometimes obscure gold-laden rocks, for example.
This game has a beautiful art style that is made up of high-detail pixel art. It gives plenty of depth to the crevices in the walls, the lush vegetation, and your ugly foes.
The sound effects of UnderMine are high quality and well done. The developers have also created a great soundtrack that never gets old. It’s fun to listen to and makes the mines much more atmospheric.
Overall, I quite enjoyed my time with UnderMine. It takes a fair amount of time to beat the game, at least 20-40 hours. That’s highly dependent on your skill level, of course. There is also a hidden mode to unlock, called OtherMine. To overcome it, you’ll have to push forward without the benefit of permanent progression upgrades like you’ve had in the main campaign. Naturally, this means you’ll have to make do with the random items you find along the way. UnderMine is available on the Nintendo Switch eShop for $19.99. You can also find it on Steam and Xbox. Do you have what it takes to conquer the mines, and the OtherMine?
Review copy provided by publisher.
nintendo switchReviewsThorium EntertainmentUnderMine