Beneath Oresa Review | Card-Playing A Roguelite Dungeon
Anything can be a dungeon if you put your mind to it, including whatever lies underneath an expansive urban environment. Thanks to Broken Spear Inc., there’s such a dungeon to explore in Beneath Oresa. This roguelite card-battler challenges you to pick one of several champions to plunder the sci-fi depths of this world. You can also take a companion for support with additional cards and provide passive bonuses to your character’s stats and card effects. The path you take is full of chances regarding events, treasures, and enemies. So, hope for the best as you try to be the best.
Why Go Beneath Oresa?
Roguelike and roguelite games sometimes have complex stories, but many provide a simple prompt to explore dangerous areas. Though Beneath Oresa looks like it contains plenty of lore, your goal is made pretty clear from the start. In an unknown futuristic time period, a big city called Oresa has continued to grow high and wide. However, whether by intent or not, Oresa lies on top of a series of subterranean levels hiding old technology and dangerous creatures. As one of several brave warriors, you are driven by a desire to uncover secrets of what lies beneath. And, hopefully, the chance to get a little bit richer while exploring it.
Excitement and Adventure Lies Beneath Oresa
When designing a dungeon for fun and challenge, there’s lots to consider for ongoing and repeat play. With Beneath Oresa, the developers consider some of these things and implement them effectively. Similar to Slay The Spire, the game makes use of a rail system along a set path.
As you progress through each level of the dungeon, you can see what kind of event is coming next. However, there is no guarantee of what you’re going to encounter. You begin to value each event that has the chance to give you an edge or recover. With battles, you alternate between looking forward to fights and dreading what’s to come. Although your run is at the will of the fates, the characters are reliable in their stats and abilities. These stats and abilities themselves are randomized in battles, which adds another interesting level of challenge.
When it comes to gameplay, everything is solid in terms of controls and mechanics. Playing with a mouse and keyboard, it’s easy to navigate every screen from making decisions to moves in battle. The battles themselves are quite dynamic making use of distance and range to influence strategy and add layers to encounters. This feeds into your main battle mechanic with is counterattacking. Your character has a meter that builds in power and energy by using cards allowing you to bide your time against powerful enemies. It’s a key factor in which cards you use, and feels satisfying to unleash when the time is right. This and being able to move enemies around makes the fights more complex and action-packed.
A Stylish Retreat
Of course, it wouldn’t be right not to mention the visuals and presentation of the game. The game makes use of cel-shading for sharper images with an art style similar to gritty cyberpunk comics. This is further supported by having all the event parts of the path showing freeze frames with your hero and character in a set position. In battle, the animations really shine for both the heroes and the enemies. There are numerous enemy types that all have distinct moves and attacks. They play out with such impact that you can almost feel it through your character. On the other end, each successful attack you make has almost tangible weight behind it. It feels great to land a hit, enter slo-mo, and keep following it up until you run out of cards or energy.
Beneath Oresa Can Be Restrictive and Unfair
Though randomization can make for a lot of varied gameplay to keep this fresh, it can work against enjoyment. This is one of the main drawbacks of Beneath Oresa that needs to be accepted. The dungeon layouts are generous in giving you plenty of opportunities to build strength, get new cards, and level up your companion. However, it isn’t totally consistent. It doesn’t help to encounter a certain number of offers that grant you buffs and then encounter powerful enemies that lay into you with overwhelming debuffs. However, you also don’t want to spread yourself too thin, so there is a decent degree of luck that needs to be on your side for such encounters.
Then there’s also the limiting exploration of the paths. Unlike Slay The Spire which provides a lot of branching paths, this game isn’t that expansive. Each level of the dungeon presents a straight line that your champion moves along until they reach a node. No matter what kind of node it is, it usually offers some options, but that’s the only form of freedom you have. The only form of branching paths you get are areas where you get to choose between one of two nodes. This can be a choice between two lists of events or two types of battles that switches things up somewhat but makes you long for more paths to take to reach the end of the level.
Dare to Venture Beneath Oresa
Beneath Oresa is a cyberpunk-esque roguelite about exploring the dungeons under a huge city with a deck of cards to help you fight the creatures within. It has a detailed visual style with good animation, a dynamic battling system, effective controls, and a satisfying combat feel. Despite being a roguelite, it really doesn’t offer a lot in terms of exploration and choices, instead offering only two sets at any given time. It suffers slightly from a noticeable reliance on luck to make sure your character stays balanced and effective, since they risk running into an enemy that can counter everything that they’ve gathered up until that point. It can be difficult to move past, but the skills that you can get and the character builds depend on your level of skill beneath Oresa.
Will Quick is a freelance media wizard living in Spain. When he's not gaming or writing, he's doodling comics or whatever else pops in his head.