a program: Nintendo Switch
also on: PC, PS4, Xbox One
publisher: QUByte Interactive
Developer: QUByte Interactive
Everything in Underland is moving very slowly. The characters trying to get from point A to point B move around leisurely. The ground-breaking giant buzzer slowly milled across the ground. Acid pits that will kill you instantly leak and seep along the ground (except when you’re descending, in which case they’re at least moving faster). For a game in which you are trying to help astronauts trying to return to their families hiding deep in the earth, there is not much urgency to be found here.
While there’s a lot to be said for living at an unhurried pace, I can’t say it’s something I appreciate in a puzzle game – especially when, as in Underland, there doesn’t seem to be any reason for it to be.
My big problem with it is that Underland is rarely all that challenging, which means it often feels like you’re just waiting to do the more obvious steps. You may be able to immediately see exactly where you need to dig a hole to drain a acid hole – but then you have to watch how your buzzard crawls with a snail’s pace toward your target.
It also doesn’t help you control all kinds of objects here, except that switching between them also seems time-consuming. Take, for example, a level where you can control a pair of teleportation machines, a pair of portals, and a pair of people. You are constantly switching between all of these items throughout the level, but you basically need to cycle through each of them just to move from one item to the next. It’s a tedious process that seems kind of silly when you take into account the Switch’s touch screen.
I’ll note, for the sake of fairness, that there is one thing in Underland that moves fast: you control buggies full of TNT, and those buggies can move really fast. The thing is, they can actually move really, really fast, because it’s hard to get them exactly in the right position, and you can never tell how exploding they are. This, in turn, goes back to the game’s biggest problem: you put everything else right, only to one blast at poor timing to render all your efforts futile and need to start over – and back straight to slowly move everything back into place.
There are clearly worse sins the game must commit than just moving too slowly. Underland works just as you wish, even if it doesn’t work fast I can appreciate or enjoy it. But you should expect more from a game that simply works, and there’s nothing in Underland that goes beyond that very low end.
QUByte Interactive has provided us with an Underland Switch code for review purposes.