Inspired by the classic PC game, Minesweeper, Underground Keeper is an enjoyable 3D puzzle game. Armed with a pickaxe and a handful of time-bombs, players will have to use caution in order to escape the environments without being blown up by the randomly placed mines. While the game’s core feature is successfully migrated over to the 3D environment, Render System did a fantastic job with the addition of alternating environments and booby-traps that keep everything fresh. The only drawback is that there are a limited musical score and no incentive to replay the game once all the levels are completed. It is worth noting that these issues do not take away from the experience due to the increasing difficulty that keeps players engaged at all times. Even with the issues mentioned above, Underground Keeper can be summed up with two words – simple and fun.
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Keeping the gameplay simple was a wise decision on the part of Render System. The only tools at my disposal were a pickaxe and handful of bombs. The pickaxe allowed me to chip away at my surroundings until I was able to find the exit. There were many moments where I broke down a wall and was met with an explosion that killed me instantly. That is when I noticed I had a select number of mines (accessed by holding the left mouse button) in my inventory. These mines enabled me to blow up the mines hidden within the walls and, in some cases, saved me from sending myself to the next life.
Render System also took the liberty of including a top-down map so players could see how many steps are between them and the mines. This view is accessible by pressing the E key on the keyboard and serves a nice purpose to those that want to take extra precautions. While the top-down view is a nice call back to Minesweeper, I thought that it would be nice to place the map on the screen during the gameplay instead of having to go back and forth. The decision on is in no way a deal breaker but should be considered in a future update.
What makes Underground Keeper great is its presentation. All of the stuff that I mentioned above is great but without the first-person perspective being implemented, it is quite possible that this game would not be as good as it is. Being able to see every inch of each level was nice because those booby-traps were such a nuisance at times. Having played Minesweeper in the past, I found the gameplay to be extremely simple and relaxing. This speaks volume in the wake of high budget games that have a lot of tense action.
The environments go from indoor to outdoor and range from underground mines to a snow covered landscape. While having the alternating environments in a nice touch, they lose their touch after a few moments. This is due to the environments looking more like a skin rather than part of the location the player is in. For example, the snow environments had a nice blanket of snow on the ground, but when looking at the walls there is no synchronization between the two. This is an issue that bothers me the most because it takes away from the experience to a point. Hopefully, Render System can address this in a future patch because it is quite noticeable across all levels.
Sound of Music
Most games that have graced my consoles over the years have had more than one song playing throughout each level. Underground Keeper does little in this department and it is a real shame. Only one track seems to be present, and it becomes a real distraction at times. At about the 10th stage, I decided to turn the volume off of my computer in order to continue playing because it felt that bad. It would be a wise choice on Render System’s part to add additional music to this game.
The sound is a totally different story. Chipping away at the walls with my pickaxe sounded as if I was actually using the tool itself, and the blowing things up sounded just as good too. It was really surprising to hear the level of quality given that Underground Keeper’s price tag. Maybe with a higher budget, the developers can address the lingering issues.
Render System’s Underground Keeper is a fresh take on a classic PC game. With the game’s increasing difficulty, fresh mechanics, and 60 challenging level, there is tons of potential here. What dilutes the game’s potential is the lack of music, no option for having the map on the screen, and no collectibles. It is worth noting that there are achievements to learn and that could create a sense to go back to the game but for hardcore players, that might not be enough. As long as the developers listen to the community, there is always room for improvement.
If players are interested in experiencing Underground Keeper, the game is available for purchase through Steam.
|+ Increasing Difficulty||- Lack of Music|
|+ Fresh Mechanics||- No Replay Value|
|+ First-Person Perspective||- Map on screen during gameplay|
|+ Amount of levels|