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The Land Beneath Us screenshot

The Land Beneath Us review – Another unputdownable roguelike

Home » Reviews » The Land Beneath Us review – Another unputdownable roguelike

We’ve been absolutely spoiled with roguelikes recently. In the space of a couple of weeks we’ve had Hades II and The Rogue Prince of Persia land in what’s already a jam-packed genre filled with incredible games. And another one has recently snuck out without much fuss: The Land Beneath Us. Having spent some time with it, however, it deserves your utmost attention if you’re a roguelike fan.

A roguelike dungeon crawler, The Land Beneath Us isn’t your usual hack-and-slash game. Instead of using a face button to unleash an attack, your weapons are instead equipped to a direction. Equip a sword to ‘up’, then, and you’ll automatically attack each time you move up. And pop a gun in the ‘right’ slot, and you’ll shoot a bullet each time you press to move right.

This is the type of game that requires you to think about each move before you make it. You can take your time, too: if you don’t move, your enemies won’t either, giving you time to think about your plan of action. And thanks to highlighted tiles on the ground, you’ll always know where your enemies are going to hit, allowing you to (hopefully) get out of the way of danger in time.

You’ll need to line yourself up so that the press of a direction will attack an enemy with one of your weapons. Some weapons require you to be right next to an enemy before you can attack but others, like guns, can attack from up to three spaces away. It requires a bit more thought, but being able to keep a distance from your foes offers you something of a defensive advantage.

The Land Beneath Us screenshot
Image: FairPlay Studios Co. Ltd

Each ‘room’ of The Land Beneath Us has several enemies for you to kill, and once you’ve completed it you’ll pass through a gate to move to the next. Not all rooms are the same. Some might contain loot, others might contain a random event, like a shopkeeper or blacksmith who can upgrade your weapons. Every so often, though, your run will be punctuated by a boss, which will require all your wit and might to overcome.

Related: The best roguelike games on PS4 and PS5

Along with being able to equip up to four weapons — one for each direction — you can also equip a number of relics which have a variety of purposes. Some will boost your stats, helping you deal extra damage or pull off more critical hits. Others will give you much-needed health, giving you HP after clearing each room or even raising you from the dead the first time you die. Needless to say, the right set of relics can mean the difference between life and death.

The Land Beneath Us screenshot
Image: FairPlay Studios Co. Ltd

Chances are you’ll fall before beating the first main boss the first time you play The Land Beneath Us. Maybe even the second, third, sixth. But that’s fine: it is a roguelike, after all. There are permanent upgrades to unlock too, thankfully. The more meaty upgrades require you to have at least downed one proper boss, but you’ll earn money each time you play which can be used to increase your HP, and how much money you earn in future runs. Both very important, and helpful, upgrades.

The Land Beneath Us is the type of roguelike that never feels unfair. When you die, you know it’s because you’ve made a mistake, not because you were somehow cheated by the game. You got yourself pinned into a corner; you accidentally stepped on that damaging fire tile.

Each time you play you’ll learn from your mistakes, and you’ll be eager to jump back in when you fail, determined to do better and better each time. If that’s not the sign of a winning roguelike, we don’t know what is.

This review of The Land Beneath Us is based on the PS5 version of the game, via a code provided by the publisher. It’s available on PS5, Xbox Series X/S, Switch and PC.

The Land Beneath Us review - GameSpew's score

The Land Beneath Us
8 10 0 1
Stylish and captivating, The Land Beneath Us is yet another success that should be celebrated in the roguelike genre. This turn-based dungeon crawler has some great ideas, and its sharp, focused gameplay is hard to put down.
Stylish and captivating, The Land Beneath Us is yet another success that should be celebrated in the roguelike genre. This turn-based dungeon crawler has some great ideas, and its sharp, focused gameplay is hard to put down.
8/10
Total Score

We like...

  • Its retro-futuristic aesthetic looks great
  • Gameplay that's easy to pick up
  • Incredibly moreish

We don't like...

  • A larger weapon selection early on would be nice

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