By – Jordan Kamm

Downwell Review

A game about falling down a well. This mundane concept turns out to be an inspired retro indie with unique mechanics that’s surprisingly addictive. Downwell is a procedurally generated Roguelike shoot ’em up with one thing to set it apart from the others-Constantly falling down an endless hole . Forever plummeting downwards creates some interesting game play. Only a few Ledges and small alcoves are the only thing that give you a moment to catch your breath. These alcoves also offer new gun modules along with some health, energy, or even a cache of gems (the currency used in Downwell). The only thing saving you from danger are your gunboots, which can fire bullets, those modules offer different gun types , or you can stomp on enemies.

The variety of enemies mixes up combat in interesting ways. Some can only be killed with the gun, others can only killed by stomping, but the majority can be killed by both. It is unfortunate when you misjudge the enemy and go for the wrong attack since every shot you take uses up energy. The only way to replenish your energy is landing on the ground. This however, will break your combo. If you kill 5 enemies in a row without touching the ground it starts a combo chain. The more enemies you kill the longer it gets, which in turn give you rewards such as Health, and additional gems. Therefore, determining whether to keep falling or replenish your ammo leads to some tense situations.

These mechanics may sound simple in theory, but require a large amount of skill to master. There are a ton of little tricks you need to pull off, and your reaction time needs to be impeccable to progress. Especially since each level adds more and more dangers, such as spiked floor traps, and even a breath meter. However, beyond this there is not much else to the game.

Downwell Review

Unlike similar games such as The Binding of Isaac or Spelunky, there isn’t much exploration. There are no secrets to find and no items that you get afters hours and hours of play. The different characters or falling styles are unlocked over time without much effort. Before too long, you more or less know your preferred loadout. Gun modules give you health or an increase in energy, so if you are low you need to decide if grabbing that health is worth switching up your gun or not. Also, after every level completed, you get to choose one of three upgrades. These include things like a friendly drone to help you shoot things, or just a one time heal.

Again, you’ll quickly learn which of these you like and which are useless, but there are always times where you don’t get the one you want and have to learn to utilize the upgrade. The replayability of Downwell comes more from making it just an inch further than before, rather than discovering new and hidden content. Trying to make it down with the different fall styles will give you new ways to play the game. There is one that makes shops really scarce, but gives you additional gun modules. There is another where you have 6 health instead of 4 but you only get to pick between 2 upgrades. It’s interesting to try out the different styles, but ultimately I just stuck with the one that worked best for me.

The options menu is limited in Downwell, but it has enough. The retro era graphics shouldn’t cause any problems and the game ran at a constant 60FPS. Non-graphical options are the way the HUD is laid out, the volume of the game, and fullscreen/windowed mode. One thing you can do in the menu is change the palette of Downwell. The game starts off with a nice red and white color scheme, but there are a wide variety you can switch use, and the longer you play the more you unlock. You can play Downwell with either a keyboard or a gamepad and works great using both methods. I ended up switching between them depending on how what else I was doing at the time. If I wanted to lounge in bed and play, a game pad it was.

Downwell Review

Conclusion- Is It Worth Your Money?

Instead of picking up that morning cup of coffee or juice, throw Moppin the asking price of $2.99 for this game.  There is enough to please both those who want to just have some chaotic falling fun, or master the deep mechanics. Downwell is awesome and action-packed even if you just have a few minutes to play. And you’ll spend many many hours trying to reach the very bottom of Downwell.

Downwell Technical Summary:

Downwell Review

  • Time Played – 11 Hours
  • Widescreen Support – Yes
  • Resolution Played – 1920×1080
  • Windowed Mode – Yes
  • Bugs/Crashes Encountered – None
  • Control Scheme – Keyboard, Gamepad
  • DRM – Steam
  • System Specs – 3.5 Ghz AMD FX 6300, GeForce GTX 750 Ti, 8GB RAM
  • Game Acquisition Method – Review Copy
  • Availability – Steam
  • Demo – No
  • Saved Game Location – Steam\SteamApps\common\Downwell\

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