The Land Beneath Us Review

The Creator has been kidnapped – isn’t that always the way? – but thankfully all hope is not lost. You’re a clone whose role in life is to collect Soul Energy: a wondrous power source that’s capable of completely altering human life. The downside is that it only comes from one place, the Underworld known as Annwn (or just Hell, if you prefer). The inhabitants of Annwn aren’t too happy about this, hence the kidnapping, and so you travel below to save The Creator, and despatch a few hellspawn along the way. Wrapped up in a surprisingly tactical Roguelite, this indie game is a devilish delight.

You start each run into The Land Beneath Us with a randomly drawn weapon and accompanying relic, before you’re dumped unceremoniously into the lands of Hell to try and steal all that Soul Energy lurking down there.

What makes The Land Beneath Us stand out from the modern Roguelite crowd is that you assign a weapon to each direction of the D-pad. You then use that particular weapon when moving in that direction, so you can have a pistol equipped that will fire three squares upwards every time you move north, but a great sword that knocks your opponent backwards when you move right.

Each level is played out across a small grid, and part of the difficulty is moving yourself into the optimum position to take out each enemy. Even once you’ve picked up a weapon for every direction, there’s then the need to upgrade them, meaning that you’ll nearly always have a preferred direction to be heading.

Along your journey you’ll encounter various creatures willing to give you a hand, from a Weapons Merchant to a Blacksmith, and then there’s the Enhancer who upgrades your Relics. Some of them will do you a favour for no return, while others are there to make a profit. Guess which ones are the more useful?

The Land Beneath Us has all the standard trappings of the Roguelite genre, but they’re nicely presented and positioned to make progress seem incrementally rewarding, driving you to have just one more run. A run can take as little as a few minutes, but as you get more powerful and better equipped your runs will stretch ever longer. Still, it’s more respectful of your time than many others in the genre.

The visual design is both playful and futuristic, and your clone looks like a robotic Batman when out in the field. The pixel art does a good job of making things clear, while different enemy types each have their own character and respective attacks. At times, it can be difficult to see the block directly behind your character, and that can result in some frustrating losses of health, but overall things shouldn’t become too overwhelming if you stay alert.

The Land Beneath Us is a cool indie Roguelike that boasts that essential ‘one more go’ outlook, keeping you coming back for more.
Written by
TSA's Reviews Editor - a hoarder of headsets who regularly argues that the Sega Saturn was the best console ever released.