A welcome revival for a much missed genre, Sublevel Zero's roguelike design can't quite sustain it in the long term.
So there Sublevel Zero lies, this peculiar mix of instantly entertaining and disappointingly hollow. Tidying up the crafting, and making it meaningful, would add a lot. And gosh, it desperately needs a rethink about those unexplained, unpredictable dead-ends. But heck, I want to keep on playing anyway. I feel like so much more could be added to it, and I rather hope to see that happen. As it is, I'm suspicious it won't hold people's attention long enough for the £11 entry fee.
I want to be able to recommend Sublevel Zero to everyone out of principle, but I can't do that in good conscience. It's a game with a striking presentation, but suffers from problems that no amount of sheen can cover up. Float past this one, sadly waving at what could have been.
This isn't just any roguelike game, it's a calculated equation of how to pull off the technique with success.
Taking inspiration from a number of genres and combining them to make a fresh and challenging experience, Sublevel Zero is a great experience and is definitely worth your time!
Sublevel Zero's novelty is how faithfully it resurrects concepts of a fallen genre. It's cool that Sigtrap Games made a game like Descent, but pressing those ideas inside the mold of a roguelike leaves a significant amount of empty space.
For people that once loved Descent, and in their heart of hearts still do, Sublevel Zerois a compelling answer for those that want a modern day take on the genre. It is not without issues though. It is an expertly crafted 6DOF game with tight controls, but the rogue parts of its cross genre appeal are rough enough around the edges to be problematic.
Inching closer to demise in Sublevel is a tightening vice that'll persist past every destroyed core and through every wormhole.
Sublevel Zero breathes new life into the 6DOF genre, but does it with the unfortunate side-effect of crippling insubstantiality. Good for a taste of claustrophobic zero-gravity combat, but without the depth or breadth to follow through.
While two of Sublevel Zero's primary features (permadeath and procedural generation) tend to do the game a disservice, its moment-to-moment gameplay stands as something unique enough in the current FPS landscape that warrants at least a look. However, the incongruous nature of permadeath and procedural generation in the game doesn't necessarily make Sublevel Zero a game worth returning to for very long.
Fans of Descent from way back when should have a pretty good idea of what to expect here, as it is very much a modern take on the genre - to the point where it could be argued as a spiritual successor. It plays well and does its job, but it's also a thin package that doesn't offer a great deal of substance beyond the endless loot grind.
Sublevel Zero is a really good take on the genre pioneered by Descent. The roguelike mechanics are a bit punishing, but the gorgeous visuals and the procedurally generated levels manage to keep things fresh and get you to come back.
Sublevel Zero is an interesting approach to some of the aspects that make Roguelikes great, but even its tight controls feel sloppy in the insurmountable framerate drops.
Sublevel Zero has good core gameplay, but ultimately left me wanting more. The game is by no means a failure, though. In fact, I think it serves as a fantastic jumping off point for a deeper, more fleshed out game. I can't help but feel like there was supposed to be more to it. If SIGTRAP Games were to continue development on the game and add more opportunities for variety and depth, Sublevel Zero could become truly great. As it stands, the game is just good.