Undermine | Review | Nintendo Switch

  • Developer: Thorium
  • Publisher: Thorium
  • Release Date: 12/02/2020
  • Price: £15.49 / $19.99
  • Review code provided by Thorium

Video Review

Introducing: Undermine Switch Review

In the last decade, the Roguelike/Roguelite genre has expanded in many ways.  Each new entry from any game developer seeks to push the envelope as far as what Lites/Likes can do, what mechanics they can put in to draw players in, and what other genres they can attempt to absorb to create a hybrid that catches the eager and ravenous Lite/Like lovers by surprise!  Undermine is another in a long line of likes and lites that tries to shake up the formula by adding some RPG elements, but does it stand above the rest of its kind and truly create something unique and interesting? Find out in our Undermine review.

In You Go, Peasant!

Isn’t an Archmage WILDLY more qualified for this than a peasant?

Undermine’s attempt at a story begins with you, a peasant meeting with a Wizard-type character of some regard.  He tells you that something deep in the Undermine is causing earthquakes and tasks you with finding out what it is.  He also mentions that the Blacksmith went down there earlier and has not yet returned.  Unfortunately, that’s as much story as you receive until you rescue the various other NPCs who will add very little to the lore, but will also open a store so they can charge you the valuable gold you find in the mine!  Capitalism!

Die, Die, Try Again, Peasant!

Drinking this Potion killed me…

The Undermine is a deep, dangerous mine filled with monsters, bosses, but also treasure!  There’s gold in there, and it is found in rocks, and in veins on the walls of each room in each randomly generated floor as you go deeper.  Watch out though, as soon as there’s gold on the ground, these slime-like creatures named Pilfers will jump from all directions, and burrow from underground to steal it from you.  You can strike them to force them to release the gold they stole, the only issue is catching them first.  These creatures tend not to do damage and will go for anything gold including statues, among other things.  You just have to act fast, level up your canary to retrieve gold for you, and push onward!

Also within the mine are various pickups called Relics that will grant you new abilities, potions that have a variety of effects, and a crafting material called Thorium.  Relics can help you in different ways ranging from increasing your attack range to granting you the ability to walk over gaps with ease.  Potions you find and purchase can grant you anything from duplicating all on-screen healing items, to allowing you to heal the amount of damage a next strike would cause the player.  There are also blessings and curses you receive at the different shrines which will help you AND hurt you.  Don’t worry, the curses you receive can be mitigated by potions and talisman you find on your journey.

Final Thoughts, Peasant!

“Well, there it goes.”

Undermine is a tragically mediocre game.  There is very little to separate it from the wealth of likes and lites that have come out before it, and those that will come out after.  The only really new things it attempted to do were the gold veins you can mine, and the choice to replace the all-important dodge roll in these games with a jump instead.  It does very little to stand on it’s own and will rely on mechanics it attempted to boil down to their most basic form to wow the player. 

When doing our review of Undermine, it felt like the default export in a Roguelike-Lite Maker akin to an RPG Maker with an auto-generate tool.  But seeing as how this is Thorium’s first game, Undermine was a way to learn the ropes and figure out what did and did not work.  I, for one, am looking forward to Thorium’s next project!

Pros:

  • Pickaxe acts as a boomerang

Cons:

  • Pilfers
  • Load times
  • Animations feel stiff
  • Many Relics seem useless and need more context for what they do
  • Canary upgrades disappear upon death
  • Rescued NPCs are uninteresting

Verdict

Undermine feels like a game that sacrificed substance for rougelite/like gameplay, which creates a rather hollow experience with very little to keep you coming back to the mine.

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