Review – Creature in the Well

I can’t think of any other way to start off this review for Creature in the Well other than saying that this is a very unique game. Yet at the same time, it’s not the first pseudo-metroidvania with pinball elements I’ve played in the past few years, that other game being Yoku’s Island Express. This is definitely not a criticism towards Creature in the Well, but just a way to prove how diverse the indie market is. The market manages to provide players with different experiences even though they are based on a handful of similar gameplay elements.

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A better pinball experience than the Senran Kagura crap I reviewed a few weeks ago.

Creature in the Well‘s plot goes as follows: a village has been ravaged by a sandstorm for decades after a group of robots had failed their mission of powering up the machinery inside a nearby mountain. A wicked creature, the titular Creature in the Well, has decided to take refuge inside this facility. He becomes some sort of god to the local populace, telling them to lose faith in these robots and that they should worship it in order to avoid their imminent doom. You take control as the last remaining robot of the mountain and your objective is to finally power up the mountain, get rid of the creature, and bring faith back to the villagers. Simple and effective, just the way I like it.

Creature in the Well‘s gameplay is a bit off-putting at first. There’s no combat in here, as all you’re doing is powering up generators by deflecting energy balls at them. You have a weapon that charges those orbs up and a weapon to smack them in any given direction. It’s a mix between tennis and pinball, with some very vague metroidvania progression sprinkled on top.

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You could use this image as a desktop wallpaper if it wasn’t for the icons on the top left.

I want to call this game a metroidvania, as the developers themselves have referred to it as such, but I honestly don’t think there’s a lot in here that will remind you of the genre. Sure, the game is sort of open-ended, but you don’t really acquire new upgrades or moves in order to open new areas. The only upgrades I can think of are orbs that increase your overall health. You finish a sector and a handful of them will be available to explore. The game is basically giving you new levels to explore, like any linear game with a modicum of linearity would have.

This is not a criticism. I honestly think Creature in the Well is well-paced. It constantly presents you with new puzzles and means to solve them, as well as damage-dealing traps you need to avoid. If you die, the titular creature will pick you up and throw you out of the mountain, so you don’t lose any progression. All you’ll need to do is backtrack a bit. That doesn’t mean that the game doesn’t have some annoying difficulty spikes every now and then, but given the low stakes, it’s not something that’ll drive you to insanity. The game also does a good job at teaching you the mechanics without you even noticing, so it’ll be a matter of time before you solve them yourself.

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The game’s art style is just awesome.

Gameplay aside, what really stands out in Creature in the Well is its visuals. This is one gorgeous little game with a very unique art style. There are loads of moments in here that could easily be used as a wallpaper for your desktop. I loved the game’s usage of colors and overall lack of black lines. The framerate was also surprisingly high and very stable, something you don’t always expect in a polygonal game powered by Unreal on the Switch.

If there’s just one thing I really didn’t like in this game, that would be the sound department. To put it simply, it’s as forgettable as forgettable can be. Creature in the Well is the type of game you even forget it has sounds. What you’ll mostly hear is loads of orbs hitting walls and being deflected by your weapon. Due to the fact I mostly stuck to using a frying pan throughout the game, the sound of a pan hitting something was what I heard the most during a post-apocalyptic Sci-Fi title. I know I’m the one to be blamed for that, but considering that this dumb noise was the only thing I can remember from the game’s overall sound department, that says a lot about the rest.

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Don’t care.

Creature in the Well might have some little issues here and there, but all in all, it’s really good. I was surprised by it and definitely not expecting for it to be as entertaining as it ended up being. It’s a short but reasonably challenging title that doesn’t outstay its welcome. It provides you with a handful of challenging moments, some breathtaking imagery, a neat gameplay loop, and then it’s over.

 

Graphics: 9.5

The game is a sight for sore eyes. Its art style is fantastic, its usage of colors makes many of its environments worthy of becoming your desktop wallpaper, and its framerate is excellent.

Gameplay: 9.0

It’s a mix between tennis, pinball, and a standard exploration adventure game. It sounds weird at first, but the game perfectly manages to teach you its mechanics at a steady pace. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t some annoying difficulty spikes every now and then.

Sound: 5.5

Nothing too exciting when it comes to the soundtrack. It’s basically just a bunch of ambient noise. You’ll most likely play the game on mute.

Fun Factor: 8.0

Creature in the Well is fun because it is unique. It’s challenging, despite some annoying spikes. It is not very long and it might not be very replayable, but it doesn’t outstay its welcome.

Final Verdict: 8.5

Creature in the Well is available now on Xbox One, PC and Switch.

Reviewed on Switch.

A copy of Creature in the Well was provided by the publisher.

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