Thursday, April 11, 2024

Demo Play Thursday - The Land Beneath Us On Switch

For this week's Demo Play Thursday i played the Nintendo Switch version of The Land Beneath Us, developed by FairPlay Studios and published by Dear Villagers.

This demo is another that i chose to play because the screenshots on the #eShop page look cool. But i didn't read what the game was actually about before i played it so i was a little surprised that it was a Rouge Like. It doesn't reveal that it's a demo when you start, but it did have some cool music and story that got me hooked and wanting to play.

After an interesting introduction, we're dropped into a tutorial world that does a great job explaining what's happening and often has pictures. I feel like gifs or short videos would've been even more helpful. But after that we're dropped into the world and the difficulty is evident from the start. I feel like the tutorial does a poor job in setting what our expectation should be for the initial difficulty, but that could also be true to for the game itself as it's initial level(s) could be smaller and act as putting the tutorial into actual practice.

It's never made clear in this demo how long it actually is. I think i found out it's just the first task of completing Llosgi but i'm not sure as i think the demo broke and let me continue back to the main room without the reward i should've got. I should've been able to take that reward and upgrade my character, but when i went to do so i didn't have the item i got from beating the boss. I'm thinking i'm not supposed to see this and rather it's more that the demo broke.

To get to the boss, you have to travel to stages across the level. we have some choice by choosing a teleporter to take us from one stage to another stage. But i forgot from the tutorial and the game doesn't seem to remind us again so i had to try and learn as i went. 

This Rouge Like has a couple of mechanics in play. when you play, you're collecting gold that can be used across this run and at shops and item chests in the stages and you're collecting souls that are kept when you die and that can be used to upgrade your soul tech. But upgrading via soul tech never really felt like it did much. numbers increased, but in the actual game i didn't feel a benefit from it. especially compared to the things i would loot or could buy. This made playing the game feel more random and luck based than perhaps was the intention. i mention it in the video that it wasn't satisfising to beat the boss because i felt like i did it because i got lucky in getting epic items rather than because i had been levelling up and improving. 

Unfortunately for The Land Beneath Us, this demo has made the gameplay feel luck based rather than skill based and that's something i'm not looking for in a Rouge Like. Rouge Legacy 2 is example where the things i bring back when i die are used to improve my skills and my abilities and i feel it in game. the random luck element of that game is our character's class and skills. But because of our levelling up, even these feel like they get better. But crucially, those random elements have pluses and minuses about them and they're easily understood by the player so each run may not beat the game but each run has it's own uses. But because The Land Beneath Us is soo random and luck based, a couple of the runs i had felt like a waste of time. especially when the cost of upgrades ramps up quickly and yet i don't feel any benefit from them.

The Land Beneath Us has some great graphics and music and ideas. But the gameplay doesn't quite match that level of quality. it feels like it needs rebalancing at a minimum. As the game isn't out, i would still recommend playing the demo as whilst it's not the Rouge Like i'm looking for, maybe it's one you'll enjoy as there are some great aspects of the game.