The Land Beneath Us – PS5 Review

The Land Beneath Us from Bangkok-based developer Fairplay Studios and French publisher Dear Villagers (aka Plug In Digital), is a bit different from their prior release Fallen Knight as reviewed by Richie almost three years ago. It’s another roguelike/lite/whatever. We’ve stopped caring what the actual definition is, more whether a game is any good.

Accordingly, is The Land Beneath Us any good? It has its moments, put it that way. We got a similar feeling to Atomine though we’re not entirely sure why. At its core, The Land Beneath Us is a turn-based dungeon crawler with a tactical bent, so quite different to Atomine. This is rare game that you could play with the directional pad rather than analogue sticks, it makes a nice change.

You start out as a robot called U.S.H. AKA the Ultimate Soul Harvester. The story hints at your single-minded approach not necessarily being the best one. Though it does suggest that it’s from the point of view of the enemies you defeat. If we had the option we’d switch sides if we’re honest as your liaison in the hub is a very annoying PC that talks to you in annoying text speak.

If you play this in a normal manner, you’ll lose. Once you get your head around how to approach enemies, you’ll start to do better. We certainly did. The key is that you’ll see where an enemy is due to attack next by it being hatched yellow on the UI. In the event a square is going to have multiple attacks converging, they are highlighted orange.

You can assign weapons to each point of the compass. If you attack up you use one weapon, down another. If you don’t have a weapon assigned at the outset you’ll do base punch damage, so it’s well worth getting any weapon in a slot, even if it isn’t necessarily best suited to your needs.

Support items are penned as relics and start out as basic buffs like extra critical hit chance or extra health, but as you progress through the game you’ll get better items as well as weapons. While you can increase the number of relics you can have equipped, you can only ever have four weapons equipped. Though if you have a duplicate weapon for one already equipped, you can upgrade the one already in the slot. Relics can only be upgraded the once, and then only at a particular shrine.

Each run is made up of three lots of ten levels with a boss at the end of each, culminating with a final boss for the run at level thirty. You’ll likely struggle the first time you face a boss, though once you’re powered up sufficiently, you should dispatch them relatively quickly.

We took several attempts to beat the first two bosses, but when it came to the third boss, we beat him first try. This highlights how critical a decent loadout can be, as we had a buff equipped that gave us health back with every successful weapon strike. Though conversely, you’ll also know when you’re on a hiding to nothing as you simply won’t get any decent relics or worthwhile weapons. The RNG can feel a bit punitive on occasion.

At the end of each run your entire loadout is reset, your only currency carried over being souls. Unlike the likes of Rogue Legacy, this isn’t a case of use it or lose it before your next attempt, plus any unlocks you’ve made carry through to your next run.

One thing we wished we could do was save a run mid-attempt and come back to it later. It seems like an odd omission, especially since The Land Beneath Us saves every action you carry out in the hub area. It’s not like a run is always super quick either, especially when you’re fighting one of the more attritional bosses that require you to move around lots to avoid their attacks. We found ourselves using the PS5’s rest function, which can prove hazardous, especially if you get hit with an update.

As well as attacking, you can also carry out extra moves by way of the chip mechanic. More of these are unlocked as you progress through the game, though we kept on returning to the far too useful heal (up, left, left, down) as it often proved the difference between a successful run or not.

You’re encouraged to replay levels you’ve already completed by way of toggling different difficulty modifiers such as only one choice of weapon or disabling the all too useful teleport that you unlock in the second stage.

In conclusion, The Land Beneath Us is a solid enough rogue-like that we didn’t like all that much at the outset, but somehow found ourselves having just that one more go. If you treat this as a standard dungeon crawler, you’ll be sure to come unstuck, but if you treat it more tactically, you’ll fare better. The RNG is often the key between success and failure though, so can feel a bit harsh on occasion.

The Land Beneath Us
7 Overall
+ Well implemented tactical gameplay
+ If you mess up, it’s more often than not your own fault
+ Plenty of replayability
- RNG can be a harsh mistress
- You can’t save mid-run to resume later
- Your main point of contact in the hub is very annoying
The Land Beneath Us is a fair tactical rogue-like that you might dismiss on looks alone, but stick with it and you’ll be rewarded by an intriguing combat system. We just wish we could save mid-run.



About Ian

Ian likes his games weird. He loves his Vita even if Sony don't anymore. He joined the PS4 party relatively late, but has been in since day one on PS5.

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