Downwell

Good
  • Unique art style and great soundtrack makes for a unique experience in addition to the randomised game mechanics
  • Fantastic balance of player choice and need to react to what is available through upgrade systems
Bad
  • Can't quite decide on an appropriate pacing with some dramatic shifts in fast and slow paces
  • Lacks options to reconfigure your controls or other settings
8.5

Downwell is a unique vertical scrolling platform title that also blends in the shooter and roguelike genres into the core mechanics. Available on a large range of platforms this is a title designed for platform fans from the ground up who have plenty of opportunity to get their hands on this fast paced adventure that is literally down the well.

Following a curious man exploring the local park during a night time walk, players strap on their gunboots (yes, bullet firing boots) as they jump into the well, fighting off the enemies and collecting any treasure that they come across. With guns at the bottom of your shoe you’ll obviously best equipped to handle these obstacles from above.

downwell-gameplay-explosion

The setting for Downwell is undoubtedly unlike anything you’ve seen before and this extends to the gameplay both in terms of visuals and mechanics. Controls are kept simple with players able to move from side to side, jump when on a solid surface and when in mid-air fire bullets from their trusty gunboots to damage enemies or the terrain beneath them.

With procedural generation behind the core Downwell experience each of these attempts at conquering the depths of the well are unique and thus equally challenging as you can’t rely on memory of level design. This challenge comes from the various enemies that are encountered which can be defeated by either stomping on them or relying on your gunboots although this depends on the enemy type.

downwell-gameplay-gemhigh

These gunboots can be customised as you adventure downwards by walking into the scattered time bubbles that will contain weapon modifiers, additional gems and even shops to purchase health or boot upgrades. As these are randomised like the rest of the game, successful players will need to alter their strategy in each game based on the items they find rather than having a structured plan in mind.

In addition to this for every stage that a player clears they can select one of three randomised upgrades which stay with the player for the entire run and can have a wider impact on gameplay such as boosting accuracy and damage, cheaper shop access and many other modifiers. This mechanic is not uncommon in the broader rougelike genre and provides that extra layer of randomness but also gives players a little bit of control back on progression.

downwell-gameplay-shop-sushi

As if that wasn’t enough variety players can unlock additional game styles as they play through Downwell which alter some of the parameters and act like alternative characters. The boulder style for example starts with extra health although only gets to pick between two upgrades after each stage is completed which means a stronger early game but often weaker late game.

Summary:

  • Adventure down the well in this unique title that combines the genres of roguelike, shooter and platforming together.
  • Use your deadly gunboots and upgrade them with a number of enhancements from shops.
  • Procedural generation ensures great variety in gameplay and the upgrades you have available.
  • Unique visual design that has you exploring a well of black, white and red colour variants.
  • Play on Windows, iOS, Android, PlayStation 4 or PS Vita.

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Review Platform: PC

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Written by
Samuel Franklin
Samuel Franklin is the founder and lead editor of the Games Finder team and enjoys video games across all genres and platforms. He has worked in the gaming industry since 2008 amassing over 3 million views on YouTube and 10 million article views on HubPages.

Games Finder is a Steam Curator and featured in the aggregate review scores data of MobyGames and Neoseeker.
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