The beautiful, harsh roguelike Below is getting an easier 'Explore mode'

I really like the look of Capy's roguelike exploration game Below, but was put off by stories of its unforgiving grind. Not that I mind difficulty, and the one sure thing about roguelikes is that you're going to die a lot, but if you're going to make a beautiful game world filled with mysteries and secrets then I'd rather spend my time exploring it instead of being focused solely on not dying. Hob is a fine example of that: Lots of ways to die, but plenty of time to wander and enjoy the sights, and it's not excessively punishing when you do cack it.

Below will take a big step in that direction soon with the release of an Explore mode, which "tweaks and rebalances the game to present an experience that we think will be more approachable for many," Capy said in a Steam update. 

"As time passed, one thing became resoundingly clear: people loved the brooding tone and melancholic atmosphere of the Isle, and we wanted to provide a way for players to experience that world without necessarily having to overcome the brutal test of endurance required to fully experience the world of Below."

Below will still be dangerous in the new mode, but not nearly as unforgiving as it is now. Here's what's changing:

  • No Hunger or Thirst
  • Can't drink puddles or bottles
  • Bottles still need to be filled with water for cooking soup
  • Soups restore health
  • Death's door teleport to island (Avoids the issue of jumping down without enough lamp juice to open the door)
  • No one-hit deaths
  • No iron maiden
  • Fires don't burn out until you die
  • All damage is bleed damage, giving the player time to stop the bleeding
  • Don't clear after use
  • Still only one active at a time
  • New Save slot for EXPLORE
  • New SURVIVE mode on main menu (original mode)
  • Existing progress saved as SURVIVE mode slot

There was a time when I would have turned my nose up at this sort of thing as gamer weakness, but I'm just not interested in that kind of hardass nonsense anymore. If I can enjoy this wonderful game world with an edge of danger instead of constant fear that my next step will be my last, you better believe that's what I'm gonna do. For those who prefer the harshness of Below in its original form, however, it will be preserved exactly as-is in a separate Survive mode. A date hasn't been set, but Capy said it's coming soon.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.