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Escape from the Underworld


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#1 quick12

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Posted 17 April 2011 - 04:07 PM

Escape From The Underworld
Made By Banov
Review by Quick12


GMC Link: http://gmc.yoyogames...howtopic=489479

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Banov is a well-known GM developer, mostly for making the sword-fighting platformer Assassin Blue and the great pirate RPG Dubloon. Escape from the Underworld is his most recent game, made for a game developer contest called “Indie Kombat,” where two game developers have one month to make a game, and the best game wins. Despite having been made in one month, Escape from the Underworld is one of the better games that can be found on YoYo Games. It’s far from perfect, but it’s still a great game.

Escape from the Underworld plays much like a Metroid game; you work your way through the Underworld, a maze of caves and corridors, gaining weapons and abilities as you go. The game starts you off with all of your abilities except for a few, before stripping them away, leaving you without even the ability to jump, which is acquired within the first few minutes of the game. You will slowly gain abilities and health upgrades, making you stronger. At first, you must be cautious, as you have a single unit of health. Touching an enemy or spike will kill you. This makes some parts difficult, as you will have to try many times simply to reach a new area, which can be a bit frustrating. Thankfully, save points are common. As you gain new abilities and health, you will become increasingly powerful, and enemies that took a big fraction of your health earlier now do barely anything. While you had to be cautious before, you will be traversing areas recklessly without concern by the end of the game. This gives you a true sense of progression and empowerment not found in many other games.

Finding your way around the Underworld is not difficult. While it at first seems to be without a linear path, you will soon find otherwise. There are different ways to go to the same place, but you can’t collect abilities out of order. The health upgrades and mysterious red orbs scattered around can usually be claimed as soon as you see them. Areas are blocked off until you find the proper item, so you’ll find the game is taking you down a preset path with few detours, all of which will lead you to the same place anyways. This is one place where I believe the game could have done better. The game never takes control away from the player, even when telling the story. Yet this linearity does not give the player much control over their course, and I find this a bit disappointing.

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Escape from the Underworld has a very unique presentation. It has simplistic, single-color graphics, and while it doesn’t look as good as some other games, it gives the game a unique style. This is complimented by fantastic music (as with many of Banov’s games) and good sound effects. But where the game really shines is the storytelling. While the story of the game lacks greatness, it is told in a way that the player never loses control of the character. You start off with almost all of the powers you will gain within the game, above ground. You find yourself an black angel with a white outline. You will travel left, as opposed to right in regular platformers. You will come across the statues of seven angels, one broken. You will reach a town. You will approach a person, and the game will prompt you to press Z. You will expect to talk to the person. You will not expect what pressing Z does. Pressing Z triggers the event that will strip you of your powers and toss you into the Underworld, left for dead. During this whole time, your control is never taken away, except for one isolated instance, but instead of feeling like loosing control is natural, you feel as helpless as the character you control to prevent it.

While that may not be your perception of the story, it was mine. The lack of text leaves much to be filled in by your imagination, so the perception of events will differ from person to person. But I thought it was a superb way of telling the story, even if the story itself is a bit disappointing. Escape from the Underworld, while a bit on the short side, is one great game, and I highly recommend it.

Edited by quick12, 23 April 2011 - 03:55 AM.

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#2 Zeddy

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Posted 21 April 2011 - 10:58 AM

before striping them away

I found a typo.

This gives you a true sense of progression and empowerment not found in many other games.

Except for all the Metroids, most of the post-2000 Castlevanias (plus Symphony of the Night), a ton of indie-developed metroidvanias such as Cave Story and nearly every RPG in existence. And that's just the games giving you a fake sense of progression and empowerement, which is what you're referring to.

For a true sense of progression, you should look at shoot'em'ups, the older Castlevanias (except Simon's Quest), Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia in level 1 Hard Mode or loads upon loads of arcade games where the only way to get further and score higher is to improve your own skills. You, the player! That's a true sense of progression and empowerment.


Escape from the Underworld suffers from a sinking difficulty curve (that sinks from being about as hard as the first couple of levels in Super Meat Boy (where, just like in this game, any challenge that might have been is completely negated by the constant checkpoints every half a minute)), uninteresting enemies and backgrounds so rushed and reprehensible I was certain before now that it was made for a week-long competition.

Much like Assassin Blue, the only interesting part was the final boss fight.

The music was pretty good.
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#3 quick12

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Posted 21 April 2011 - 02:50 PM

before striping them away

I found a typo.

This gives you a true sense of progression and empowerment not found in many other games.

Except for all the Metroids, most of the post-2000 Castlevanias (plus Symphony of the Night), a ton of indie-developed metroidvanias such as Cave Story and nearly every RPG in existence. And that's just the games giving you a fake sense of progression and empowerement, which is what you're referring to.

For a true sense of progression, you should look at shoot'em'ups, the older Castlevanias (except Simon's Quest), Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia in level 1 Hard Mode or loads upon loads of arcade games where the only way to get further and score higher is to improve your own skills. You, the player! That's a true sense of progression and empowerment.


Escape from the Underworld suffers from a sinking difficulty curve (that sinks from being about as hard as the first couple of levels in Super Meat Boy (where, just like in this game, any challenge that might have been is completely negated by the constant checkpoints every half a minute)), uninteresting enemies and backgrounds so rushed and reprehensible I was certain before now that it was made for a week-long competition.

Much like Assassin Blue, the only interesting part was the final boss fight.

The music was pretty good.


Thank you for the feedback on my review. Yes, except for Metroids and other Metroidvania style games. The progression in this game is different from that of RPGs, though (that power comes from fighting large numbers of inferior enemies. No matter how many enemies you defeat, you all you'll find is that you are more skilled at defeating enemies in Metroidvania games). And as for the fake sense of empowerment and progression, you're mistaken there. You see, the sinking difficult curve is exactly where this empowerment comes from; it takes effort to get new items, and you are rewarded for that effort by your new ability. I suppose it is fake in a way, but the fact that your power is a reward for your effort - however small - is empowerment. Like getting a new high score in an arcade game due to the effort you made to get it. The fact that you plow through the game easily after getting a large number of power-ups reminds you of the effort you took to get through the same area before you had your abilities. That is progression. The real progression and empowerment you refer to? That's called SKILL. Oh, and thank you for pointing out that typo.

Edited by quick12, 21 April 2011 - 02:52 PM.

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#4 link3000

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Posted 27 December 2011 - 04:38 AM

This is one of my favorite GM games. Out of all of Banov's games, this is my favorite though it lacks some polish.
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#5 commodore swift

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Posted 28 December 2011 - 02:22 AM

This is a great review, especially compared to the other reviews on this site. My only problem with it is that at points you have too much summary of what happens in the game. I found another typo though:

loosing control


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