Downwell is a very recent release, and I’ll tell you right now, I haven’t finished it. Still, I felt compelled to write about it, because it fits the theme and because I like this game a lot.
Downwell is what the kids call a “roguelike-like.” Which basically means it’s a non-RPG with random elements. It’s more or less a procedurally generated vertically scrolling shooter, with some platforming elements. Unlike most vertical shooters, though, it scrolls down, since you’re, well, going down a well. Hence the title.
The game puts you in the shoes of a little blobby guy who’s descending down a really deep hole in search of treasure. Treasure comes in the form of gems, which will also superpower your weapon if you collect a bunch in a short time period. Speaking of your weapon, our little blobby dude’s weapon is pretty unique. He has gunboots. Shooty feet. Exploding heels. He shoots out of his feet is what I’m saying. Like Bayonetta, but way more lo-fi. And always falling down a well.
Your gunboots can be upgraded with a suite of different power-ups. Each uses a different number of energy units per shot, and each has different uses. Almost all of them are useful in some situation or another, but I’ve found the Shotgun to be my favorite. To reload your shooty feet, you just have to light on a surface. It can be either the ground, or an enemy. Many enemies can be dispatched by jumping on them, and doing this reloads your guns. Comboing enemies, either by jumping or shooting, will give you bonus gems.
Each stage ending provides you with one of three upgrades. I’m not sure how many there are total, but which options you get seem to be randomly selected. There are options to help save ammo, cause explosions, fire bullets from destructible blocks, get health back in various ways, and more. This makes each playthrough different and allows for a variety of playstyles.
And I suppose I should discuss the horror elements. The game gets darker and darker the further you descend. In the beginning, the enemies are bats, frogs, snails. Stuff like that. But as you go deeper, you’ll encounter floating eyeballs, disembodied skulls and more horrific baddies, all standing in the way of your treasure.
Like many indie roguelike-likes, it’s addicitive, quick, and feeds the “one more game” part of your brain like you wouldn’t believe. At the low, low price of three bucks you can’t afford to pass it up.
- Released: October 15th, 2015
- System: PC, iOS, Android
- Developer: Ojiro Fumoto
- Publisher: Devolver Digital