REVIEW: ‘UnderMine’ Remains on Top (Switch)

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UnderMine Cover - But Why Tho

UnderMine is a roguelike and roguelite dungeon crawler with light RPG elements from developer Thorium Entertainment published by Fandom. Previously released on PC and Xbox, an UnderMine Switch poot is soon to arrive on the Nintendo eShop.

Having played UnderMine on Xbox for several months now, I can enthusiastically confirm my original hype remains. The creative take on action-adventure gameplay and myriad ways to play make UnderMine an excellent choice for players both new and veteran to the roguelike and roguelite genres. In UnderMine, you play as a lowly peasant in service to a cruel master in a mysterious mine. Your only weapon is a pickaxe that you may swing or throw as you uncover the mine’s secrets, save other people (and dogs) from the mine, and slay its many bosses.

The reasons I adore this game so much are twofold. Its art and theme direction, for one, are endearing. A game in a mine is perhaps not purely original, but the pixel art is totally charming. And considering the bulk of the genre’s most popular games in recent years have been blood-soaked bullet hells, it’s rejuvenating to play a dungeon crawler with charm rather than doom and gloom.

That said, the UnderMine Switch port is also on the relatively easier side and more streamlined compared to other popular games in the genre. There are only five zones with four levels each in the Switch port, and, while the floors and their layouts are generated randomly, you may only find yourself zipping through your first run of the game after only so many attempts. This is thanks to the ability to upgrade your damage and defense permanently as well as unlock new relics and potions that you may randomly encounter in the dungeon to help you along. Fear not though. Upon each completion, you will be able to begin again with increasing difficulty each time.

There is also the Othermine to endure, the true roguelike element of the game. Here your stats are wiped clean and you may only take with you what you find along the way to clear this shorter but far more challenging mode.

What I appreciate about UnderMine’s simplicity, and why I so strongly recommend it as it arrives on another platform, is that it is a really accessible entry into the genre. Offering both a forgiving rouge-lite mode and a challenging roguelike mode that use the same mechanics as one another makes learning how to play this game with expertise that much easier.

And still, within the game’s simplicity are numerous ways to play. Within a single run, there are several stats to pay attention to, including swing damage, throw damage, throw distance, health, damage resistance, element resistance, and others. In the standard gameplay, you can really choose for yourself whichever stats you want to focus on. But in the Othermine, you’ll be forced into whatever stats the game randomly decides to give you buffs and pickups in. This makes for an excellent opportunity to spend time practicing and mastering each of the game’s many ways to play, not just one. I am rather good myself at runs where my swing speed and damage are high, and awful at bomb-centric runs. So when the Othermine gives me bombs, I crumble. But I can easily choose to spend time in the main game practicing bomb runs to get better at little cost.

My few issues with the Switch port are minor. The game’s looks and controls map to the Switch cleanly, but the load times are noticeably slower, and it drops frames majorly. Additionally, the feats in UnderMine are challenging, but offer no reward. Part of why I became so enamored with UnderMine originally, for some time after my original time playing it for review, was because the feats were tied to achievements that kept me going. With no achievement system on the Switch, the only reason to unlock the feats in the Switch port is for their own sake. I know to the non-achievement obsessed this may seem banal, but attaching some type of rewards to the feats would have been an exciting reason to keep playing, whether just giving me extra currency or maybe skins, relics, or other changes to the game.

UnderMine remains my favorite roguelite game, and the Switch port makes it accessible now to that many more people. The small issues with the port will likely be hammered out shortly, or have no impact on most gamers, and the game remains as charming and accessible as ever to new and veteran players alike. Absolutely give it a go now that it is available on the Switch.

UnderMine will be available on Nintendo Switch on February 11th. It is currently available on Steam for PC and Xbox.

UnderMine
  • 8.5/10
    Rating - 8.5/10
8.5/10

TL;DR

UnderMine remains my favorite roguelite game, and the Switch port makes it accessible now to that many more people. The small issues with the port will likely be hammered out shortly, or have no impact on most gamers, and the game remains as charming and accessible as ever to new and veteran players alike. Absolutely give it a go now that it is available on the Switch.