Many, many moons ago a man by the name of David Brevik helped to create a little game. That game was Diablo, it was somewhat successful. Over the course of Brevik's history he would also help with Diablo 2, now he's back with his own company Greybeard Games with their first game It Lurks Below. It's themed as a retro-styled, 2D, action-oriented, survival RPG that is currently a part of Steams Early Access program. This is our preview of It Lurks Below.
If you have ever played Terraria or Starbound than It Lurks below will no doubt look very familiar to you. It has the 2d "retro" art style and allows for building and crafting much like the others. It will feel very familiar to anyone who has played those other games or games that are similar. But where it differs from the others is what matters most.
Along with the usual health bar, you also have an energy and hunger bar. If you don't eat, you die. Which means you better make sure you're harvesting those carrots and cabbage and eat them before they rot or perhaps take seeds from them and plant for a food harvesting later. Yes, things rot. Food waiting to be harvested, food in your inventory; all have a set time until they rot and are no longer a viable food source. You also need to take occasional naps to replenish your energy or get lucky and drink vast amounts of coffee to stay alert and not take naps (just like in real life). You can sleep on the ground, but you get better rest from a bed.
Much of this can be improved thanks to skills you can learn via the survival skill trees. As you level you can xp for normal levels that you can add attribute points to and you gain survival experience from doing things like mining, crafting, chopping a tree. The survival skill tress offers various utility skills. Such as food lasting longer before going rotten, increased chance to mine more ore per node, alchemy, etc. This dual leveling system can make for good choices and helps separate It Lurks Below from similar games in the genre.
There are several classes you can choose from as you start your adventure in It Lurks Below ranging from a Bard, to a Cleric and Necromancer amongst others. In the time spent leveling the Necromancer I didn't see much difference from others, although the magic wand that was crafted felt more like a gun than anything else that needed to be reloaded.
The crafting and house building felt like a solid first step in the right direction for It Lurks Below. Not as robust as some others might be, but it felt like the structure there could lead to a lot of variety and future content. The beginning of crafting was taught with very easy to follow quests allowing the player to get used to the system and see what they could do.
Overall It Lurks Below feels like a solid step in the genre direction with a nice take on having food and energy included besides just the normal Health bar. It also includes a hardcore mode that ends the game should your character die. Coming in at a MSRP of US $19.99 feels like you definitely get your money's worth with all the crafting, dungeon delving and monster hunting currently in the game. Be advised though that it is in early access and not everything is complete.