UnderMine offers plenty of roguelike adventuring in a deceptively cute, yet engaging package. You play as one of several disposable miners within a world of rocks and monsters, sent on a task to save workers from a gold mine, which quickly evolves into a quest for various seals and items held by dangerous creatures that (supposedly) threaten the safety of the mine and the kingdom itself.
You take orders from Arkanos, a mage with what appears to be a hidden agenda, instructing you to dig deeper and deeper underground to stop the monsters from rising to the surface. Naturally, you’re sent with only your trusty pickaxe and well wishes as each of your replaceable characters fights bats, rats, bipedal monsters, knights, and other human adversaries.
While questing you’ll collect basic items for progressing – keys to open doors and special locks, and bombs to demolish rubble and break walls for secret passageways. You also collect gold from the mine, which can be used to purchase items on your journey and spend on upgrades in the hub (you save a portion of your gold on each run, but no other items). But don’t get too comfortable about collecting gold, as there are little creatures called Pilfers that come out of the ground to steal your gold at every turn.
Along the way, you’ll collect relics, which provide boosts to your attacks, additional health, or other attributes to aid you. There is a diverse array of monsters, each with their own unique threats, as well as traps like buzzsaws, minefields, and fireballs to avoid. As you journey along you can use monsters and traps to your advantage. For example, ogres can throw bombs at you that you can guide toward a secret passage wall, eliminating the need to use any of your own bombs.
Several secret items are hidden behind structures that can use both bombs and keys to access, which gives you the flexibility to manage resources. Graphics are delightful, all characters are imbued with life and personality – even the monsters – and controls are tight and responsive. Your abilities allow for a wide variety of play style on each round, switching from straight-ahead axe swipes to axe throwing.
The game changes as you become more experienced, bringing new difficulty to each of the levels that you thought you conquered on previous runs. Later power-ups allow you to skip past certain levels, giving you more options on whether you want to go collect gold (and risk your character’s life) or power through the more advanced portions sooner (and risk your character’s life). Bosses are difficult but manageable, and every new discovery and defeated monster gives a sense of satisfaction. One can say that this game has a lot of… depth.
UnderMine is a really fun time, honestly, and I found it difficult to pull myself away long enough to write this review. The roguelike elements help give this underground adventure a surprisingly amount of depth, and behind those adorable visuals are an impressive set of gameplay options that keep things fresh and interesting throughout. I’m looking forward to uncovering even more mysteries as I dive back into it. Which I’m going to do right now. Good luck in the mines!