Journey Below review - Can a roguelike auto-runner really work?
| Journey Below

The roguelike, as a genre, has a lot to answer for when it comes to the latest string of games that are stupidly hard but loveable in their own way.

Take Journey Below, for example. It's a tough-as-nails side-scrolling platformer/hack-and-slash rogue-like, which is just as hair-pullingly hard as that sounds.

And, even more annoyingly, it's a lot of fun to play, dead easy to get to grips with, and leaves you satisfied even when you finally succumb to the beasts out to kill you.

The ol' jump 'n' slash

Playing Journey Below is pretty straightforward. Your little knight bumbles along automatically, until you bump into a wall and turn back on yourself.

You tap the left side of the screen to jump, and the right side to lunge forward with your sword, immediately killing everything in your path.

Using a combination of these moves, you have to navigate a series of increasingly challenging levels, keeping an eye out for traps and racking up points by killing your foes

Every enemy you kill adds to your combo meter, which is retained between levels, so get a good combo going and a few levels later you'll be raking in thousands of points with little effort.

Successfully make it through a level and you'll be offered one of three upgrades, which can earn you more points, give you another attack, add another heart to your life bar, and many other very useful perks.

But these upgrades only last for that game - take too many hits and you're dead, which throws you right back to thebeginning.

Dying is easy

While it's annoying that you have to start over each time, Journey Below somehow manages to avoid making this feel like too much of an ordeal.

Yes, you'll have to drag yourself back through all those levels once more, but this time around you know a little more about the mechanics, and can shoot for an even higher score.

Death never feels cheap, and you always know where you went wrong – probably not getting the right upgrade a few levels ago, or hitting the attack button a little too early.

And the simple control scheme and overall design mean that, if you do take a break from frustration, you can always come back later without having to remember its various weird nuances just to get through the first level.

Not far to go

Overall, Journey Below is, ironically, a little shallow. There's not a lot going on beside jumping and slashing, and it likely won't keep you coming back for long.

But while you are playing, you'll fall in love with its simplicity while cursing its difficulty, and having a blast while doing so.

If you've got a few minutes to kill, it's a great game to throw yourself into to see just how good your adventuring reflexes really are.

Journey Below review - Can a roguelike auto-runner really work?

It's not the most in-depth of games, but Journey Below plays so well that you won't mind retreading the same ground
Ric Cowley
Ric Cowley
Ric was somehow the Editor of Pocket Gamer, having started out as an intern in 2015. He hopes to take over the world the same way.