I made the classic survival-crafting mistake in Enshrouded: I dug myself to death

 Enshrouded screenshot - an Enshrouded PC holding a pick, standing in a hole.
Enshrouded screenshot - an Enshrouded PC holding a pick, standing in a hole.

A funny thing happened to me in Enshrouded (the other early breakout game of 2024) last night, and from that experience I have a little bit of advice for others: If you're planning to dig a hole to see how far down you can go, be sure to bring along an extra pickaxe or two so you can get out.

The whole dumb shmozzle began when the friend I was playing with dug a hole near his base, which I fell into a few minutes later. Funny stuff! I hopped out, and we got chatting a bit about building bases down, instead of up.

A moment later, inspiration struck. While he continued the real work of building a nice, normal house on the ground, I quietly began digging down. What would I find? A new kind of rare mineral, perhaps a vast network of underground caves filled with pale, blind weirdos? Maybe I'd simply reach the bottom of the world—a hard end to my downward tunnel, or a clipping error that left me falling through an endless void like I was playing a Bethesda game. The possibilities seemed endless!

Eventually, as I dug, I noticed that the "enshrouded" warning had lit up, indicating I was in an area filled with the noxious gas that permeates the game's valleys and lowlands. I was experiencing the mortal equivalent of that moment in the movie when they say the name of the movie.

But there was no gas to be seen, and while the indicator was on, the timer didn't actually start counting down. Odd little bug, but it wasn't doing any harm so I put it out of my mind.

Down, down, down I went, stuffing my pockets with dirt and stones and not a whole lot else. It was a little bit of a letdown, to be honest: After the thrill of discovering the great subterranean realms in Elden Ring, I really hoped that I'd find... well, something interesting beneath the surface of the world. But it was not to be.

Eventually my pickaxe broke, and that was the end of my journey. It was clear, looking up at the tiny dot of sunlight hovering far above my head, that I was not going to be climbing out. Time to fast-travel back to our base and get back to the real game.

Enshrouded screenshot - a big dumb hole from below
Enshrouded screenshot - a big dumb hole from below

But there was a problem. You can't fast-travel when you're enshrouded—otherwise there'd be no risk to entering the game's dangerous, gas-filled regions, and what fun would that be?—and as far as the game was concerned, I was enshrouded. No fast travelling for me—I was stuck.

I tried digging with my axe, my sword, my fists, all to no avail. I tossed the few small bombs I had in my inventory, but all that did was give me a slightly larger hole-bottom to be stuck in. Death, and the magic of reincarnation, seemed my only way out, but blasting fireball spells point-blank into a side of the tunnel, hoping for the sweet release of splash damage, had no effect on my health. Shit.

I was eventually forced to cop to my stupidity, which predictably resulted in peals of laughter. Once sufficient ribbing had taken place, I said I'd just jump off the server and reconnect, hopefully respawning in a more normal location. But my partner DJNoob—presumably wanting to extend my suffering and maybe make a point about the perils of dicking around—told me to stay put so he could launch a "boy trapped in a well" rescue expedition.

Enshrouded screenshot - a big dumb hole from above
Enshrouded screenshot - a big dumb hole from above

As penance for my sins (and to see if he could actually do it), I played along. And he pulled it off: Climbing down a cliff face as close as possible to my hole, he started digging straight toward me. I could hear him hacking through the earth as he grew closer, which I thought was a nice effect,  and after a return to base to fix his own pick—it was a pretty long tunnel—he broke through. I was free!

Interestingly, even after I was out and back on the surface, the "enshrouded" indicator remained, stubbornly refusing to count down. I finally got rid of it by entering a different enshrouded area, which started the timer ticking down, and then leaving, which stopped it. We also found, after restarting and returning to the game earlier today, that my big dumb hole was still present, but the rescue tunnel he'd dug to get me out was gone. Whether that's another bug isn't clear, but it's odd that my digging in his game (he was hosting) remains, while his disappeared.

In any event, the underground "enshrouded" thing that kept me trapped in my hole was surely a bug, and that makes me a victim here, not a thoughtless and unprepared perpetrator of an obviously bad idea. Yet another reminder of the dangers of digging too greedily or too deep, as Tolkien put it.