Going Under is absurdly polished for a game that's been in development for just eight months. Its colorful 3D art pops off the screen—there's a real Adventure Time vibe here, but Going Under is set in a cheeky, colorful dystopia instead of Adventure Time's magic fantasyland. The pitch is pretty simple: Think of a straightforward combat-oriented roguelike in the Binding of Isaac vein, except you're disappearing deeper and deeper into the bowels of an office building housing "the cursed ruins of failed tech startups."
The personality is delightful—in the demo I played at PAX, I was facing off against cute, stumpy "joblins," but what really made me enjoy Going Under was its take on combat. Most of the weapons are items you can grab in the environment. I picked up a keyboard and bashed a joblin over the head with it until it broke. I also picked up big and small potted plants, a chair, and a computer monitor, and either bashed baddies with them or hurled them as projectiles.
There are dedicated weapons too, like swords and spears and water guns, but Going Under clearly wants combat to be scrappy, and having to make use of anything that's at hand is a lot of fun. I found myself making a lot of split-second decisions about which weapons to keep and which to throw (you can hold three weapons at a time), and what made the most sense in a given fight. I liked jabbing away with a spear to keep joblins away from me. Smashing them over the head with a giant decorative skull was satisfying, but it was too heavy for me to walk with at normal speed, so I opted to throw it instead.
Like Binding of Isaac and similar roguelikes, through exploring rooms on every floor you'll find shops and power-ups that modify your abilities. One I found actually made heavy items lighter, so I could walk at full speed while carrying them. Another made me drop a bomb every time I dodge rolled, which then became my dominant strategy. I just let the joblins chase me and rolled away while the free bombs did the work. I also found out the hard way that my own bombs would hurt me, too.
After playing Going Under for about 15 minutes I could see the places it still needs some work. It has a lock-on to make its 3D combat easier to control, but it wasn't always obvious who I was targeting or how to switch targets. Some UI elements weren't in place yet. But the fun is already there—I'll stab joblins with an oversized pencil in a tech startup parody dungeon all day, honestly. And it's not out until sometime in 2020.
The aesthetic and environmental weapons are enough to separate Going Under from other roguelikes that are structurally identical. It just feels like a pleasant world to be in, and a different sort of mental challenge for juggling a roomful of enemies. And proper 3D physics in this kind of game are wonderfully unpredictable: at one point I threw a chair at a beefy enemy right as he started a spin attack, and it ricocheted off his arm whirlwind, barely missing me. I think this is going to be a good one.