Escape from the Underworld


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Rating: 4.4/5 (71 votes)
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Escape from the Underworld

JohnBEscape from the Underworld is a short exploration platformer that shares some design elements with some of the most successful indie games in recent history: Knytt, Iji, Seiklus, Cave Story, and, well, we could probably go on. In short, Escape from Underworld is a Metroidvania and it's really, really good.

escapefromtheunderworld.gifDescribing the opening scene would ruin your first "ZOMGNEAT" moment of the game, so suffice to say, you end up wandering the underworld caves, looking for a way to get out. You start off barely being able to jump, but a quick power-up allows you to do just thdat. Afterwards, it's all about exploring the passageways and finding item upgrades that help you explore even further. Most of the time you'll be nabbing health upgrades or extra lives, but sometimes you'll discover key items that really change the nature of the game.

When you first start wandering the underworld, you're weak and rather helpless. For this reason, you'll probably die a lot, as one hit sends you back to the last save point. Do yourself a favor, though, and persevere just a few more minutes, until you get a health upgrade or two. This instantly takes the frustration out of the game and opens up the fantastic experience that is Escape from the Underworld.

Apart from exploring dark passageways, you'll also take care of a few enemies, some of which are persistently annoying in their ways. You won't always have to run and hide from their attacks, though, and it's satisfying to meekly dodge everything only to come back later and vanquish all foes with a sword. The environment presents its share of dangers as well, with lava, spikes, rocks, and water getting in your way. Never fear, though, as there's always a way to deal with the problems of the world!

The gameplay is great, of course, and the whole of the experience that is Escape from the Underworld is breathtaking. But the game couldn't be half as epic without the amazing soundtrack by Prophecy. The music makes your time much more interesting, and there's a good variety of songs that change while you play, so you''ll never want for something good playing in your ear.

Escape from the Underworld was created by Banov (author of Dubloon) for Indie Kombat to go up against a submission by Andrew Brophy (A Weekend in Space, Takishawa is Dead, Angry Gorilla Machine Monsters author). Unfortunately, Brophy was forced to drop out, leaving Escape from the Underworld as the winner by default.

Do yourself a favor and play a great exploration platformer right this very second!

WindowsWindows:
Download the free full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Not available.
Try Boot Camp or Parallels or CrossOver Games.

35 Comments

Hm. It doesn't do too well in wine-1.1.25 on Mac OS X, but that shouldn't come as much of a surprise.

I'll have to try this next time I have a Windows computer.

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Anyone have an idea what the red orbs do? Maybe I just haven't played long enough...

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Oh, hah. Of course. They increase your magic. And to those of you reading, the function of "magic" will -eventually- become clear.

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This website looks really messed up to me right now, I wonder why.

Also, I don't know if I would have tried out the game if not for this very enthusiastic review and its compliments on the music.

I am really glad I tried out this game, though. It is great, has great music, and leads up to a challenging (but not impossible) final area.

Also I didn't realize what the red orbs did after beating the game until I read the comment above.

5/5 mushrooms.

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Thanks for the note, Reibear. Site should be fixed now.

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I really wanted to like this game. But there is one thing in games that is completely intolerable for me, and that is bad controls. And I couldn't play it anymore after the fiftieth time I had to restart because the jump button didn't activate when I expected it to.

If the controls are tightened up, Escape from the Underworld could be one of the greats. As it is now, An Untitled Story is still the king of freeware Metroidvanias.

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Steerpike November 7, 2010 6:27 AM

Absolutely agree with bleiber. In a game where hitting the spikes means instant death, the jump key has to work when you press it!

It looked promising, but the unresponsive controls totally spoiled it for me.

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Erm.. hitting spikes doesn't mean instant death. It takes out 3 dots from your total life.

And controls seemed perfect to me, I didn't have any problem through all the game. The one thing that disturbed me was some spikes and a disturbing floor which wasn't helping to jump, but except from that, the game was great.

I finished it in 46 minutes on my first playthrough, but I've messed up quite a bit with the final boss. ^^'

So, don't stop playing just because of the controls ; it doesn't come from the game.
And it may not be as great as Cave Story or An Untitled Story ( two of my most beloved indies ), but such a short game, it's worth playing.

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linderella November 7, 2010 10:34 AM

I had a problem removing the game. I could remove the extracted file, but not the zipped one. The error message that popped up said "It is being used by another person or program." What should I do?

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On a hunch I tried upgrading wine. Game works fine-ish in wine-1.2, so that's an option if you don't have Windows available.

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I'm enjoying the game so far, but I've gone everywhere I think I can get to (multiple times), and I can't figure out how to

get into the upper left and right corners (apparently need to fly?), and the lower right corner (barrier). I have the c, z, and x abilities.

What am I missing?

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Finished the game after dying many, many times. The final boss was hard.

The buggy controls and insta-death spikes are a deadly combination - not deadly to the character but to the game's playability. 3 out of 5.

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I went through the whole map but was unable to visit 2 squares, and on the final stats was missing 2 health. So idk how to get to these :( Completed in 30 mins, nice game.

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Slanzinger Author Profile Page November 7, 2010 12:40 PM

@Tempus42: That happened to me a couple of times, take a closer look at areas as there is quite likely a pit or doorway somewhere that you've missed. Afraid I'm unable to help any more than that.

@linderella: Sounds like the ZIP file is still open in your extraction program (Winzip, 7Zip, WinRAR, etc)? Make sure all windows of that (and all other explorer windows too, as that could be contributing) are closed and try again. If that doesn't work try rebooting the computer and deleting.

This was a really good little game, I thought. My comments on it hidden so as not to spoil anything (although I fear that may already have been done by people above) WARNING WALL OF TEXT HIDDEN BEHIND THIS INNOCUOUS BUTTON!

Really interesting mechanic with the whole "start out literally unable to do anything". I quite like games that do this, you really do get a sense of development as you go through.
That being said, you do seem to end up horrendously OP at the end - certainly if you're like me and go for every single pickup you can see, when I got the final pickup I had 7 of the 10 magic pickups and could essentially mow through everything. *That* said, even with all the pickups the final boss was a challenge - you really have to work out your strategy for that rather than just constantly and blindly firing.

The two hidden-in-plain-sight rooms were a nice touch too.

One thing that irritated me a little was how the "game over" screen worked - a particular room which required you to dash-jump over various pits of lava in particular showed me this. As soon as I fell in I instinctively pressed X again, causing me to instantly quit to desktop. Happened various times. As a future suggestion if Banov is reading this, perhaps using a non-game key would have been better for this, even just "esc to quit" rather than something people will be hammering to try a segment again.
In all though, a very tidy little game, really enjoyed it!

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Agh, having some trouble with the final boss. I dodge what I can (which isn't a lot) and I use my sword as much as possible, but I still fail at it ^.^' Can anyone give me a tip?

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@Fanjita:

Those two missing squares:

There are two hidden passages in the game. You can get to a missing square by walking through a wall in a square next to it. The false walls look pretty obvious once you know you're looking for them.

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I don't get it. I can't do anything. I finally figured out how to get to the screen to the right with the map upgrade but now I can't do anything except fall on these spikes. Help?

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flowerfoot November 7, 2010 1:05 PM

tempus 42:

At the very bottom of the map, you go right and there's a spot that looks like you need wings to get past. Go left 2-3 rooms (until the lava) then use the x ability to superrun and jump over the gap. You'll need to use the super run ability a few more times after that.

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Yep, as always leaving a comment is enough to get me to figure it out. Thanks anyway.

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I got a good ways into the game, almost done from what i could tell, but then while dashing I died, and still had my finger on the X button, and the game quit. And when I went to open it again, it wasn't saved and it started me at the begining.

3/5 mushrooms for that. That's just poor button choice.

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flowerfoot November 7, 2010 1:45 PM

Oh dear god that boss battle was intense.

@magicmagi

I held down X the entire time and was at mach5 even while flying. I rarely used the magic from the sword because the boss deflects most of it back. I ended up swooping up and down and just slashing with my sword when I flew past.

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I there any way to force this game to run in windowed mode? It looks ugly at 1920x1200 monitor...

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This game was pretty awesome. It had kind of a rough start, but it came through. I got everything on my first try, with about 50 minutes of playing. The final boss was kinda hard, untill I realised

he doesn't shield while he uses the glowing ball attack and the meteor attack, and you can just dodge the laser by keeping on moving. The whole fight seemed way easier by just keeping on dashing. Also, finding out that you can reuse the magic attack by just not letting in drain fully helped too

All in all, maybe not as great of a game as AUS, but definetely worth playing, albeit it being short.

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Final Boss Tips:

Utilize the dash. The extra movement speed is crucial at times.

Be careful of when you use the charge blast. If you shoot him while his shield is up, it reflects back and hurts you. Time it so you are firing it when he drops his shield(normally to attack)

When he is dropping meteors is a great time to attack. Dash to on side of the screen, then walk back while firing the homing shards. When you give half-way(i.e. under him) dash to the other side and repeat.

When he is glowing is also a good time. Be sure to dash during this part, as your normal speed is too low to dodge around him. With the dash, you can put distance between you and him and keep firing.

Keeping safe should be your top priority. It is a fairly long battle, and you can't afford to take many hits just to get more damage on him.

I also loved the beginning

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I've closed the game accidentally about 3 times and it irrated me but i think this is a good game after all. Simple, a bit challenging, short. It's fun to play :D

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Brian Lutz November 8, 2010 3:35 AM

Hmmm... There seems to be a distinct Super Metroid influence to the music (in particular, the music for the underwater parts of Maridia seems to be borrowed from heavily.)

Still can't beat the last boss though.

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A very cute little game. Was there supposed to be music? I get sound effects but no music.

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Nvm, restarting the game worked.

I have 6 unexplored squares and haven't seen the boss yet.

Right, third from the bottom.

I tested the surroundings and couldn't find a false wall.

Top, one right of the pit opening.

Blocked on the left and right by a light-wall.

A block of four at the upper left:

xoo
xoo
This is blocked off by a light-wall.

13 health orbs and 12 magic orbs collected.

Any hints?

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Power of posting:
Those white glowing balls that form a barrier?

Your charged sword can break them.

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Fun game, but I am similarly underwhelmed by the controls. I have a specific issue that I believe has come up before in other games, though I cannot recall the fix if there is one. I am permitted to depress x and right and then up to long-jump to the right, but while x is depressed and I am moving to the left, the up button doesn't work. Thus, for example, I cannot reach the red orb on screen row 8, column 4. I'm presently stuck, though I don't know whether I NEED to be able to long-jump to the left to unstick myself.

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Very nice. Solid gameplay (though the controls could use some work) and the final boss was epic.

My favorite part has to be the very beginning, though. It was so jarring to press Z, expecting to talk to the civilian... and instead finding the character whipping out a sword and killing him. That is what I call gameplay/story integration.

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cinder calhoun November 9, 2010 9:23 AM

I really liked the music in this game. Does anyone have a website to where I can find more of 'Prophecy's work?

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I agree that the controls are less than perfect, but it seems to me that the terrain is actually to blame instead of the responsiveness of the character. Also, I have a huge pet peeve with games that meteor smash you into the ground when you hit the ceiling. After knocking my head on the ceiling and falling into lava, then trekking my way back to where I was, only to jump to high once again about a thousand times, I just gave up on the game.

And I have trouble understanding the purpose of a health bar when the lava (or spikes for some of the time) will just kill you instantly.

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Very neat game. Pluses: * The full usage of every "square" of the minimap * Each item significantly changed the rules * There was at least some variation in rooms, even if there were only about three areas * Tricky jumps and such, but not too tricky * The "press X to quit" seems to have been fixed, very sensibly * The music * The boss fight was epic and very hard, but doable * The way that spikes stopped being instant death after you get enough health

Minuses: * The graphics were extremely basic * I hate it when a minimap doesn't show exits I haven't taken, though I suppose it could be seen as spoily if it did * There was one really hard jump where you had to use the turbo-run power, but you fall in lava if you fail. I beat it after about 6 tries, but I still don't know what I did differently.

Finished in 1 hour, with 14/14 health and 9/10 magic.

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