Have you ever looked at a big hole in the ground and wondered “what’s at the bottom?”, then Downwell is the game for you.
Downwell is an interesting vertical shooter/platformer hybrid that plays out in reverse. Your character jumps deep into this mysterious well that’s brimming with monsters, to aid him on his way to the bottom he has a trusty pair of upgradable gunboots strapped to his plates of meat.
Now the gunboots are not simply there to kill the monsters, they are key to moving around the hazards of the well. When you fire the boots your momentum is sapped slowing you to move around the well and access shops that offer upgrades and recharges and caves that have gems or weapon upgrades.
While all weapons have their own quirks that you will either like or dislike, you will likely find a weapon that suits your style as some don’t offer the same level of mobility due to limited round capacity. This can get really important the deeper you get as platforms become more dangerous and will do you damage if you land on them.
Landing is important as the only way to reload is to either land on a platform or stomp on a monsters head, you have to watch out when stamping on monsters as it soon becomes apparent that the only way to kill some is with bullets.
The title is fairly challenging and getting to the bottom is going to take you some work. The game can also through you a few curveballs, for example, some of the weapon changes in caves are also energy hearts, so you will sometimes wander into a cave with next to no energy and see a heart with a weapon in it that you don’t like and you have to decide if it’s better to push on and find a shop to buy energy or take the weapon you don’t like and try to survive until you find the next one, making the wrong choice in one of those caves has killed really good runs for me more than once.
The visual style of the game is very retro but it works for this title, its not trying to be flash its just offering a solid addictive slice of arcade-style shooter action, you can even retro it up to your own tastes and use pallet swaps to make the game look like it’s playing on retro hardware like the Gameboy for example.
Overall I find Downwell to be a simple concept that can be very challenging and very fun to play
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*