The Land Beneath Us review

by on June 10, 2024
Release Date

May 13, 2024


The Land Beneath is a turn-based roguelike from Fairplay Studios and Dear Villagers, which may well have flown under your radar. If it has, it’s a shame – because it absolutely deserves your time. The mechanics are pretty simple, although the story is hardly anything to get too worked up about.

It’s set in a world that has been destroyed by AI. The “Creator” has been taken by the baddies and you have been tasked with rescuing her. You’re told this through the combination of a video left for you by the Creator herself, and the AI who guides you. I don’t have much of an issue with the story as it stands, though the writing isn’t great. As has become par for the course, the AI speaks like a precocious 20-year-old and becomes pretty irritating pretty quickly.

The Land Beneath Us

Of course, the plot isn’t super important in a roguelike. The combat, though, is – and The Land Beneath Us nails this element and then some. It’s a deceptively simple premise, whereby the action takes place on a grid of squares and you attack enemies by moving into the square they’re on, while taking care to avoid their attacks.

Each direction has a weapon slotted, and you unlock more and more as you progress through the game. You can have any weapon in any slot, but it becomes tactical when you mix and match ranged weapons with melee weapons. The former can hit enemies several squares away, although this poses problems because your dude will shoot instead of moving, so if you want to avoid damage you may have to forego a shot. It’s not a perfect system in this regard, as it almost makes ranged weapons less viable – in most cases I’d rather have the mobility.

The Land Beneath Us

Squares will glow yellow when an enemy is going to deal damage there, which in most cases will be a single square. Bosses have more complex and intricate patterns, and while the instinct is often to move fast in roguelikes, The Land Beneath Us requires you to take your time, see what the enemy is going to do, and react to it. Ideally, you want to be a move or two ahead – especially during boss encounters or in the later levels. It’s very easy early on to back yourself into a corner and take massive damage, although later you unlock the ability to circumvent this somewhat.

After you clear a room you can choose which reward to go for in the next one, be it a new weapon, charm, vendor, or a hit of currency. New weapons are added to the drop pool, while vendors offer things like weapon upgrades or charms at the cost of either currency or HP. There’s a Hades-esque feel to it, despite it being very different in most other regards. The story will continue through your failures, with new items and upgrades becoming available even if you fail.

The Land Beneath Us

As with most roguelikes these days, there’s an element of chance that dictates how you’ll do in a run. Skill will get you so far, but some runs will simply drop better charms or weapons than others. There are charms that restore you to life once per run, for example, or armour that boosts your HP and defence. There are some genuinely cool abilities later that require you to move in a certain pattern to activate them, which are great to use and satisfying purely because they’re not always easy to pull off.

My biggest issue with The Land Beneath Us is that the story just didn’t grab me in any way. I wasn’t interested in the AI or the plight of the Creator, whose only interaction with you is talking through a sock puppet on a pre-recorded video because “LOL Random!”. Thankfully, the gameplay saves it and The Land Beneath Us remains incredibly addictive throughout.


Solid gameplay
Lots of gear to unlock
Looks good


Story is forgettable
Characters are a bit annoying

Editor Rating
Our Score


In Short

In spite of some iffy dialogue, The Land Beneath Us remains incredibly addictive throughout.