GAMAYO #8: Sublevel Zero


PC gaming in the 90s was punctuated by some outstanding achievements in gaming history. From Warcraft to Doom, Duke Nukem 3D, Cannon Fodder and right back to StarCraft, the list is long. And then there was Descent, a true 3D corridor spaceship shooter with a full six degrees of movement (forwards, backwards, left, right, up, down). The game had oodles of fun, atmosphere and challenge. Strangely, even though there were sequels, it never became a proper genre in its own right… until now.

Not only is there a recently successfully Kickstarted reboot, but small studio sigtrap games were showing off an early build at GAMAYO 8 of their Descent-style roguelike: Sublevel Zero. Still very much in the alpha/beta stage of development, the level Luke was showing off had all the retro atmosphere you remember, fluid analogue controller movement and left me with plenty of excitement for the title!

Sublevel Zero
The laws of physics are crumbling and reality is falling apart. Fly through procedurally generated zero gravity environments, looting and crafting the ancient technology needed to keep yourself and your clan alive.

6 Degrees of Freedom
Your gunship is free to fly and rotate in all directions. You can attack from any angle, and so can your enemies. If you’re familiar with such names as Descent and Forsaken, feel free to reminisce.

Levels are randomly generated every time you play. Descend into a low poly, pixelpunk fever dream.

No lives. No saves. Make every shot, every decision count. Think on your feet and adapt to the changing environment before it’s too late.

Looting and Crafting
Collect a wide range of randomly-generated weapons, upgrades and game-changing items. Craft them together to equip your gunship for your play style. Unlock more items and blueprints as you play.

Oculus Rift Support
Why not dive face-first into an immersive world that really, really wants you to die? You’ll look a bit strange, but you won’t care.

Retro Tunes
Shoot everything that moves to an accompaniment of awesome 8-bit inspired music.

Pew pew pews in all directions

Nostalgia drives an entire generation. It’s allure is so powerful there’s an entire art style based around it. It also makes games like this a labour of love for their developers, crafting all the elements into a package that tugs at that part of your brain. And Sublevel Zero certainly does, from the low-poly art style to the Amiga demoscene-inspired music, this is an up-to-date revisit of a sadly-forgotten genre. I’m not sure what I’m looking forward to more: this game coming out, or the fact that the 6DoF shooter genre is finally making a comeback.

Oh, and Sublevel Zero also has Oculus Rift support, so you can vomit in six directions.

Sublevel Zero is expected sometime later in 2015, available on Windows, OS X and Linux. You can keep up to date with the game on Steam, if you prefer.


About Dan Morse

From the Atari 2600 right through to bleeding fast PCs, Dan's played on them all. One thing that's never changed is an unwavering passion for video games. Twitter: @happydan | Steam: happydan | GOG: happydan