FairPlay Studios and Dear Villagers take us into Welsh mythology with the interesting demo of this turn-based roguelite: The Land Beneath Us.

As soon as the demo begins we find ourselves in a gray and technological environment, surrounded by panels and various tools. The protagonist of this turn-based dungeon crawler-roguelite is called U.S.H.001. The Main PC activated us for the first time, and then explained our mission. We must descend into the world beneath where we are: the land of Annwn. For some this place is also known as hell and there, we must save the person who built us: the Creator.

The Main PC also displays a video recorded by the Creator himself. We don’t see his face because he speaks through a sock puppet placed on his hand. On the other hand, we discover interesting things such as the reason for our creation and our purpose: the collection of soul energy. This energy can be channeled and used for the healthy progress of humanity and U.S.H.001 is the one capable of collecting it. Obviously this technology is also tempting to unscrupulous people who have kidnapped the Creator. As a curiosity we also discover that the Creator is actually a woman because the kidnappers address her with female pronouns.

Without further information our adventure begins.

FairPlay Studios

Before talking about the demo, here is a little information about the development studio. FairPlay Studios is a small group of like-minded people with a passion for games. Made up of industry veterans and avid gamers, the team is committed to creating games that they, as gamers, would want to play.

What The Land Beneath Us Looks Like

The Land Beneath Us is a turn-based dungeon crawler-roguelite where U.S.H. 001 will have to face rooms full of enemies to face the final boss. The area accessible in the demo is the northern part of Annwn: a land set on fire by a fearsome creature. The name of the area is Llosgi and it presents itself as a desolate, ruined and burning urban environment. Immediately the pixel art, although stylized, is of good effect. It works well especially on creatures and parts of the environment. The music is simple but engaging. In short, there are the conditions for an interesting adventure.

Weapons, Gameplay, Rooms and Turns

What makes The Land Beneath Us demo interesting? Certainly the turn-based gameplay and the tactical vision that comes with it. The protagonist and his opponents move on the 4 cardinal points, moving one square at a time in turn. The playing field is in fact divided into squares where there may be obstacles, environmental traps and obviously enemies. During the fight some squares will have two different colors: yellow will show us the enemy’s attack in the next turn while red is the range of our attacks. If the next move takes us to a yellow square, we can pass the turn and let the enemy act. In fact U.S.H. 001 can equip up to 4 weapons at the same time, positioned on the cardinal points. So moving towards the North it will attack the weapon equipped at the top, the East will attack the one on the left and so on. There are many weapons with different characteristics, picking up the same weapon does not replace it but enhances it. Be careful, moving towards the enemy means attacking him and be careful of a possible knockback or immobility of the protagonist.

Roguelite and Loot Elements

Beyond the strategy and the turns, The Land Beneath Us has a strong roguelite element that goes from the paths to choose, to the upgrades and weapons to draw on. Once a room is completed we can choose between different portals, each with its own reward and symbol. Each symbol represents a reward: weapons, relics, event rooms, money, souls.

Among other things, there are the rooms that lead to the mid boss and main boss battles. Before the main boss there is always a healing room. Each weapon and relic can be chosen from three. There are different qualities of relics and we can carry up to 5 of them at the same time. Furthermore, during the adventure we can meet different characters who will help us improve weapons, relics, or merchants.

One level consists of 30 rooms. Every 10th there is a mid boss and on the 30th the final boss.

Once the run is over we will return to the central Hub. Here we can upgrade the character, his chipsets (not yet available) and unlock rewards from completed tasks.

My Two Cents

The Land Beneath Us makes a good impression in the vast field of turn-based dungeon crawlers-roguelites. Its tactical and strategic component adds depth to the title, almost transforming it into a chess game. It is important to know your opponent’s moveset, understand when to act, read future moves and know when it is best to pass the turn. Obviously this is just a first impression as the demo is quite short although fun to replay and all the upgrades and power-ups are not available at the moment.

The Land Beneath Us should be available around the middle of this year. I hope it continues on this path, thanks to its good start.

Try the Demo on the Steam Next Fest

I'm a musician (pianist), a nerd and a longtime manga lover. My gamer life started with a copy of Pitfall (1982) for Atari 2600, and so I grew up hand to hand with this medium until now. Later I started to look for what's behind the final product, its design and what happens behind the scenes of the video game world.