Below makes you feel small. Wonderfully, wonderfully small. Capybara Games' new adventure, a lush marriage of Dark Souls and the original Legend of Zelda, is a game of contrasts, encroaching dark and tiny lights with a wee character in a big, echoing world. "The idea of scale was the first thing we landed on. Ever since 1080p monitors came out I've had this dream of taking advantage of that technology in a different way," explained Kris Piotrowski, Below's creative director. "You've got this view you've never seen before, a character on a scale you've never seen before, and it gives the world a feeling of vastness and mystery."
The muted, thick colors and heavy rain surrounding the Wanderer, Below's fragile star, in the game's beach side opening are as oppressive as they are beautiful. Wanderer is tiny on the beach and rocky path leading up into the hills in the background, taking up almost no screen real estate and moving slowly. Even holding the run button, he only moves at a trot. Unsheathing your sword and shield takes a good beat as well, leaving you vulnerable. Climbing up a trail toward the monolithic cave first seen in Below's E3 2013 debut is immediately tense and alluring.
Those feelings of vastness and mystery sweep you up so much that you're not expecting it the first time spikes shoot out of a grey splotch of cave-floor, cutting your life short. When you start again as a brand new Wanderer, a little wiser and a little more ready with a sword, that's when this chilly game warms up, inviting you into its artful, challenging exploration one dark cave at a time.