Developer: SIGTRAP Games
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
The six-degrees of freedom subgenre of shooters had an illustrious start thanks to the Descent franchise, but in recent years, the genre has laid relatively dormant, not yet rising anew like the space sim and CRPG outside of minor titles such as NeonXSZ and Kromaia. But while the Kickstarter success of Descent Underground offers some competitive 6DOF action, Sublevel Zero blends the genre with the looming tension of a roguelike, to stellar results.
Finding that secret won't be easy. Throughout cramped technological tunnels and lava-lit caverns where it's easy to lose your bearings to cavernous crystalline quarries, mechanical threats lurk at every turn. Enemies range from drifting slow-firing drones to wall-crawling tanks, and you can't take any lightly. Permadeath looms over every new room and every unknown corner, so each encounter must be tackled like it could be your last. An aggressive offense is the best defense here: deftly weaving between projectiles, boosting past enemies to spin around and unleash a storm of energy as they're turning to lock onto you,
Each weapon feels powerful and satisfying to use, tearing through the levels in overwhelming streaks of colorful energy. You never know what weapons you might come across, so improvising with what you have on head is key to survival. One minute, you might be a sniper taking out enemies from a distance with a railgun; later, you'll be softening up drones with lasers before boosting in to finish them off with a shredder blast.
But all those weapons wouldn't matter if Sublevel Zero's movement was as fun and responsive it is. Thrusting down its serpentine tunnels or flipping around a junction or retreating from a relentless ground of enemies is always satisfying and you always feel in control.
Steam, Humble, and GOG.