A Long Way Down, developed by Seenapsis Studio and published by Goblinz Studio and Maple Whispering Limited, is a unique blend between turn-based card battlers and rogue-like dungeon crawler RPG. The developer managed to combine two genres, and it turned out pretty well. The title draws inspiration from the likes of Slay the Spire, Hand of Fate, and 2016's Darkest Dungeon. The latter is the closest to Seenapsis Studio's creation, but in a simpler and more interface-friendly manner.
A Long Way Down follows the story of Sam, as his soul escapes his body and gets trapped in the dark realms. Your friend, Ma'Bri, has found a way to reach you and talk to the dead. He guides you early-on on what to do and where to go. As with most games, every time you open up a new menu section, you are greeted with a short tutorial on the functions on display. After these are done, the game allows you to discover the remaining mechanics at your own pace. A Long Way Down doesn't overwhelm players with complicated features, and the interface is relatively easy to navigate with neat side sections.
Where A Long Way Down truly shines is its dungeon design. Players are thrown into the dark realms with nothing but their cards and their will to survive. You can see the way out, but it is a tricky road filled with enemies and forces of evil. All of them work under the evil mastermind and will do everything in their power to hinder your progress.
The dungeons themselves are broken, and hard to navigate, and this is where Seenapsis Studio's creativity kicks in. Players are given different styles of slabs to fill in the gaps between platforms. After a certain number of turns, the evil entity takes one of your available actions or slabs, and puts them randomly anywhere in the dungeon. His main goal is to sabotage your progress, or even use one of the important pieces you needed to reach your goal.
There are random piles of slabs laying around, and more often than not, you'll probably need to collect them all. However, sometimes the tray of slabs and actions available to you doesn't exactly offer you a straight forward path to your goal. This encourages you to work around what A Long Way Down offers you, and is definitely a unique take on the genre and its regular experiences. As much praise as I gave it, everything doesn't always work perfectly as selecting the right panel sometimes bugs out or doesn't even register. All these small input issues will probably get addressed later on, considering the title's Early Access state.
After defeating every enemy, you receive an item or a card, alongside powder. The latter is important in upgrading and creating new additions to build your deck. The amount of powder you receive and the rarity of cards depends on how hard your opponent was. More often than not you are going to receive duplicates of gear and armor, especially during the early dungeons, A Long Way Down allows you to recycle them to gain a certain amount of powder. The more you give, the more you receive. The system allows you to have enough to upgrade your current equipment and deck, as well as combining specific cards to create new ones with stronger effects or damage.
There is so much more to A Long Way Down than just its gameplay. The game presents itself with a unique artistic style, and it manages to capture your liking once you step into its world. The enemy models might get repetitive once you dive too deep into the title, but there might be more additions down the line from Seenapsis Studio's development team. In addition to that, the ambient music gives a nostalgic throwback to classic dungeon crawling RPGs. It is nothing memorable or fancy, but it does the job in keeping you invested and entertained while you take down monsters and grab all the loot you can.
All in all, A Long Way Down's Early Access looks promising early on. Of course, there are minor performance hiccups here and there, in terms of selection input registration, occasional stuttering, and overall polish. However, this is the point of getting players to experience the title early and help the development team shape it to their liking.
TechRaptor previewed A Long Way Down on PC using a code provided by the publisher Goblinz Studio.