While I patiently wait for Derek Yu to post a tweet revealing the release date of Spelunky 2, I've been venturing into other roguelikes to try to quench my thirst for more cave bound adventures. In my search, I stumbled across UnderMine, a friendly little roguelike that's currently in Early Access.
Exploring distinct areas, collecting gold, and fighting off admittedly cute enemies is a good time, but it's UnderMine's relics that reveal its depth and versatility. Embarking on a new adventure with your character—who is often referred to as the 'peasant'—you navigate the depths of the mines and beyond, discovering powerful items that greatly impact how your run will pan out. These can be anything from floating boots that let you walk over the otherwise dangerous pits, to a sewing kit that lets you keep all your hard-mined ore when you die. Potions and curses pepper each playthrough, and throughout your travels you can rescue individuals who will head back to your hub to sell you helpful items.
Your first task from Arkanos the Archmage is to investigate the source of tremors in the mines while searching for a missing blacksmith. From here on out you'll spend your time swinging your axe at enemies and uncovering secrets as you populate the blank mini map in the bottom corner of your screen. Collecting keys will afford you the opportunity to reach previously inaccessible areas, rewarding you for being curious in early rooms. If you manage to unearth it, the Keyblade relic additionally increases swing damage for each key you have, providing you with a nice buff for scouring the map.
You fight a range of strange creatures, from rats, to Spate Flies who spit green orbs. There are even adorable little green slimes called Pilfers who will try and steal your gold. Some rooms will feature environmental hazards such as spikes, spinning blades snaking around on tracks, and even oil to keep you on your toes. At one point, I encountered an aggressive chest reminiscent of a Mimic from Dark Souls—you never know what you'll come across in these gloomy hallways, but the frequent introductions of new critters make exploration worthwhile.
Dying in a roguelike can feel really frustrating but UnderMine lets you keep half of your gold—your stash is dutifully flown to safety by a loyal canary familiar. Each area includes a boss fight to put your reactions and knowledge of your relics to the test. While I've died (a lot) in the process of mastering these fights, it's incredibly satisfying when you finally beat an enemy that has been setting you back in previous runs.
UnderMine is an easy game to sink into whether you're dead set on unlocking as much as you can, or just want to occupy yourself for a few runs in a short session. It feels familiar enough to get your bearings quickly if you're well-versed with other roguelikes, but the RPG elements and relics keep it fresh. It's regular Early Access updates have seen it improve over time. I'm happy to continue playing as the game draws closer to launch.