The Digest: Indie Developer Totabiento comes through with a solid effort that offers a solid single-player effort and a fun multi-player experience. Despite being short on gameplay variation, it delivers an atmosphere where you’ll never know what’s around every corner.
The Fact Sheet
Release Date: March 30th, 2010
Platform: Xbox LIVE® Indie Games
Price: 80 MS Points
Descend to the depths of the lost city, survive hordes of creatures from the abyss and face the evil within its walls. Collect idols to upgrade your sub and finish the story to unlock caverns of madness. Different experience every time you play.
- Dynamic level generation
- Adaptive AI director
- Unpredictable addictive gameplay
- Local co-op
- 4 difficulty levels
Move Over Jacques Cousteau! I don’t know about you but, any game with shadows and underworld in the title, grabs my attention in a second. The Shadows in the Underworld is listed as a shooter but it definitely has exploration elements to it. In this game, you take control of a combat ready submarine sent to explore the vast depths of lost underwater civilization searching for oil and other treasures but, as can be expected, things don’t always go so smoothly. Not long into your exploration, you’ll begin to encounter an array of ferocious underwater creatures.
The main story, told through a series of radio transmissions, wasn’t all too important and having to constantly press A to scroll through the transmissions, had me hitting the B button to disable any further messages. I was quite fond of the game’s art style. It had a very Alien Hominid/Castle Crashers look to it which I’ve always been a fan of.
Your ship’s health will be indicated by the red bar on the upper left side of the screen. This let you know how much damage you sub has taken via enemy attack. You will also see a blue bar on the upper right side of the screen. This indicates your ships power. This bar will gradually decrease during game play with use of the turbo, spotlight, and any offensive attack decreasing the ships power even faster.
Lights, Camera, Spotlight! The ship’s spotlight definitely has several important uses. Exploration is done by shining the submarine’s equipped search light, via the right analog stick, to discover hidden items such as idols which will allow you to upgrade your ship as well as keys that will grant you access to exit each area.. The search light is also used to find hidden enemies which will need to be dispatched of quickly. Lastly, the search light will also be used as an aiming device to direct your unlimited supply of torpedoes. For close quarter combat or melee attacking some of the smaller enemies, you can use the sub’s Gears of War-esque chainsaw. You’ll have learn to use the turbo button to escape heavy enemy hordes while being cautious not to overheat or drain your sub’s power (it will slowly begin to drain as you navigate through the underwater corridors). The game does a good job of creating a spooky atmosphere, and not knowing where you’re going to be attacked from has you constantly moving the search light around.
The main draw to the game is the dynamic level generation and adaptive A.I. This means that trying to memorize patterns and enemy locations won’t do you much good here. How the A.I. adapts to you will depend on how good or bad you are at manuevering through the corridors and defeating your enemies. The basic gameplay is pretty much like this: enter a room, fight off a horde of monsters, exit room and repeat. The game had a Metroid-type feel to it when I initially began playing however, the gameplay simply became too repetitive. I kept waiting for things to pick up but it never did which left me somewhat disappointed. This is an indie game so it’s not exactly a deal breaker and seeing as how the game will cost $1, you’re getting what you pay for. The game does offer a 2 player co-op via local split-screen which definitely adds to the games overall enjoyment. The game definitely deserves to be played this way.
Conclusion: At 80 MSP ($1), The Shadows in the Underworld is definably worth taking a look at. The repetitive gameplay may grow old quickly, but playing the 2 player co-op will make it a much fresher and more fun experience overall.
|- Great Art-Style
- Fun co-op
|- Repetitive Gameplay|
Single Player: 3/5 | Multi-Player: 3/5
Special thanks to Totabiento Studios for providing us with a copy of the game for review.