My favorite kind of gaming experience is one where I can immerse myself in an interesting world and explore it by myself. So much of my writing is both inspired by games, and fueled by the time they provide for me to be in my own head. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve worked through story ideas on an almost subconscious level while wandering around the world of a game. It just puts me in a creative space.
When I find a game that provides this kind of experience, and has a horror element to it, I cherish it. And Capybara Games’ Below is one such game for sure.
What I love most about Below is the scale of it, and the atmosphere of insignificance it creates. If you watch the first few minutes int he video above, you’ll see the snail’s pace at which the game brings you into the world. For some, I would imagine that would be frustrating. I adore it. There is something supremely Lovecraftian about how this game introduces itself to you. In fact, your tiny little character could be sailing the seas of the Dreamlands, for all we know. That’s the story I’ve created in my head already.
When you make landfall, the game continues to show you how small you are. Not just by how your character is represented onscreen, but in the whole design of the island. It feels “off,” like you are somewhere you’re not supposed to be. You’re not the first to come here, and you definitely won’t be the last. But there is something ancient, lurking presence that feels like its in the background somewhere, watching you.
I can’t say enough about the atmosphere Below creates. It provides the perfect brackdrop for me to mull over my own stories, while appreciating how well-executed this one is. And the soundtrack by Jim Guthrie is just amazing. This is a game well worth checking out.