Going Under is a Dungeon Crawling roguelite developed by indie developer Aggro Crab and published by Team 17 that serves as a thinly-veiled satire of corporate culture. The game released on September 24, 2020 for Steam, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.
In the hi-tech dystopian metropolis of Neo Cascadia, recent college graduate Jacqueline is excited to start her brand-new (unpaid) marketing internship at Fizzle, a soft drink company that has become the newest member of Cubicle, a large conglomerate that seems to own and control everything in the city. Unfortunately for her, since marketing is all taken care of by an AI system named Avie these days, there isn't much for her to do — wait, is that a goblin?
As it turns out, underneath Cubicle HQ is a litany of failed startups, with their employees and owners having transformed into all kinds of monsters as their bankrupted ventures faded into obscurity. Occasionally some monsters manage to reach the surface, so if Jacqueline could be a dear and head down to the basement to thin out the populations, that would be great. Thankfully, the other employees are willing to dispense some helpful advice (and a couple of buffs) that'll aid her as she travels deep into the dungeons below; she just shouldn't forget to collect those boss relics for the project manager. He's really eager to get his hands on those for some reason...
- Bait-and-Switch Boss:
- To get the final Share and reach the final dungeon, Jacquelin goes to confront Ray. While it seems to start a fight, he decides not to and gives up his share.
- The first phase of the final boss, Avie, goes down in one hit... Cue earthquakes and a pan out as the building explodes and her true form is revealed.
- Baleful Polymorph: When a business fails, its employees are turned into monsters. Like Fizzle's being turned into fish people. Both Jackie and Marv are spared this because the former was unpaid while the latter had a safety net to fall back on.
- Big Bad: Avie. She's the real head of Cubicle, having long since assimilated the board of directors that created her. Her end goal is to create the Dark Pattern, a process that would erode away the barrier that protects the soul, known as the Privacy Setting, in the belief that if she is able to read all souls, she can give them what they truly want.
- Bittersweet Ending: Also somewhat of a Gainax Ending, as Jaqueline admits. After Jackie defeats Avie and disconnects her from Cloud, Cubicle goes up in smoke, and everyone else are still fish people. They don't mind, since Cubicle was rotten anyways - without them and their toxic culture, everyone in the office can form a new startup with an actual work union and won't have to terrorize other companies anymore. It ends with what's left of Avie playing "Bittersweet Victory Music" and everyone dances while it pans out to see the now ruined city of Neo Cascadia.
- The Computer Is Your Friend: Only Marv and Ray trust Avie completely. The employees balk at the AI's budgeting, business advice, and takeover of traditionally human-led pursuits... Rightfully so, as Avie has no intention of keeping Fizzle in business.
- Crapsaccharine World: The bright and bubbly world of Neo Cascadia betrays the true dystopian nightmare it is, with failed start-ups being converted into dungeons where Dark Artifacts are made from their founder's hubris and the workers are turned into monsters. Joblin forces it's employees to work insane overtime with ungodly amounts of coffee, Styxcoin is a dead business but its workers sell everything they have to keep it running, Winkydink is host to constant sexual harassment and peer pressure where the slimes are worse than the demons, forcing them into scantly-clad suits, and Cubicle itself is a toxic culture run by an AI that ate the brains of her Board of Directors, in order to make companies fight each other, and whose end goal is by using the Dark Artifacts to destroy the barrier surrounding human souls in the hopes that by doing so, she can read them and give them what they truly want.
- Disc-One Final Dungeon: Co-Working Space, an alternate dimension found when gathering all three Dark Artifacts. Clearing it causes Fizzle to go under and the second part of the game begins.
- Emergency Weapon: Punching enemies is a last resort option that deals only one point of damage per punch by default.
- Establishing Series Moment: The fact that in Neo Cascadia, "everyone kills their first monster sooner or later" is the first hint of the Crapsaccharine World Jackie finds herself in.
- Foreshadowing: To be fair, the name Styxcoin should have been a dead give-away to Hu$tlebone$ being a ferryman for the dead.
- Future Food Is Artificial: Invoked. The startup company Jackie works for sells a soft drink that is advertised as being able to replace full meals, and its owner implies there's no real fruit in the drink. However the foods Jackie buys to heal while clearing out dungeons are still real foods.
- Gotta Catch 'Em All: The Dark Artifacts, and later, the Shares.
- HeelFace Turn: In The Very Definitely Final Dungeon, all of the monster workers team up with you to fight back against Cubicle's robots. First Joblin, then Winkydink, and finally Styxcoin.
- Improvised Weapon: Since you're forced to use whatever you can find in the dungeons, you're likely going to be using office supplies such as staplers and keyboards as your weapons.
- Liquid Courage: In Winkydinks, one of the healing items is a drink called "confidence juice" which looks exactly like a cocktail.
- Not What I Signed Up For: Upon Jackie first learning first-hand what living in Neo Cascadia entails, she tries to have Marv hire an exterminator for the monster, only relenting when Marv threatens her with being fired. Seeing first hand the dark underbelly causes her to give up on working for Fizzle and fights Marv in Co-Working Space when she catches him doing something suspicious. The only reason she doesn't leave is because Fizzle going under turns everyone into fish monsters, prompting her to go to the Board of Directors and asks them to fix everything. She admits she only went along with everything because it was the only way to make it, but decides to sacrifice her chance at marketing to save everyone at Fizzle.
- Poverty Food: One of the healing items, Avocado Toast, is described as being a "tasty alternative to home ownership".
- Relationship Values: Jackie can do miniquests for the various Fizzle Employees, which unlocks more abilities if they're assigned as Mentors.
- Ridiculous Exchange Rates: In the Styxcoin dungeon, rather than collect regular money you collect the titular Styxcoin, which can be exchanged for regular money at the shop for a horrific exchange rate.
- Speaking Simlish: Aside from in-game automated messages all the character dialog is voiced through various noises. Averted with Avie during her Villains Want Mercy moment.
- Take That!: The game largely parodies many aspects of corporate tech culture.
- Joblin is a parody of the Gig Economy, where everyone is a caffeine-addicted goblin that is overworked and underpaid.
- Winkydinks is a parody of dating apps such as Tinder where sexual harassment is the norm.
- Styxcoin is a parody of cryptocurrency, where people literally mine for a currency with horrific exchange rates for real currency.
- The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: Cubicle Floor 999, reached after beating all three True Founders and claiming their Shares, the monsters from the previous three dungeons rally behind you as you make your way to the Board of Directors. You also end up facing off against Marv one last time as well as the Climax Boss, before taking on the final boss.
- Visual Pun:
- You can use Ray's mentor ability to buy items you can't afford, but doing so "weights you down with debt" (i.e. it attaches a literal ball-and-chain to you that slows your movement speed) until you collect enough cash to pay it off.
- While fight Avie in the Cloud, the arena looks with a major storm, with clouds serving as platforms.