DescriptionDownwell is a vertically oriented action game about a boy who goes down a well looking for treasure. It consists of twelve levels, based on four themes, and the environments are randomized for each session with a final boss at the end. The game only uses three buttons: two to move left and right and one to shoot. A level is completed by reaching the bottom.
Generally firing is only possible in a downwards direction. The boy wears gunboots that have a limited amount of charges. They are recharged by touching a solid surface: a platform or an enemy. At the same time each blast provides a slight upwards push, so shooting is also used as a way to propel the boy up slightly or correct the movement pattern. The game can be played in a very slow way, drawing near enemies one by one, but the game encourages fast movement and attacks in succession. Destroyed enemies leave behind gems, the main currency in the game. By collecting many in succession "gem high" is activated, making the weapon more powerful for a short while. Also, combos by killing enemies in succession without touching a surface is a way to recover health.
Each of the four main areas has different enemies and mechanics. For instance, the third set of levels is set underwater and requires quick movement to collect additional air. Enemies have different colour combinations that reveal how they can be damaged. Some such as turtles can only be taken out by jumping on top of them as bullets have no effect. Others have to be avoided as only bullets can kill them, while some enemies are vulnerable to both. Later enemies sometimes are vulnerable to bullets on one side and to stomping on another.
Next to the randomized level and enemy patterns there are some roguelike elements. The boy only has a limited amount of health and when he dies the entire game needs to be replayed. Every level has a few platforms with a time bubble where time stands still when the boy is inside. These bubbles usually lead to side areas that contain treasure caves or shops also randomized every time. Caves contain bonuses such as a large amount of gems or one of the many weapon modifiers. They change the basic weapon to a thumper, a shotgun, a machine gun, a triple gun etc. Each type of weapon is effective against specific types of enemies, but only one weapon configuration can be used at a single time. Players are often teased to choose a different weapon anyway as a weapon upgrade always restores one health unit. Shops offer a selection of goods such as health, additional charges and more in exchange for gems. After completing a level a bonus or a perk can be chosen from a randomized selection, such as better range and accuracy, more upgrades and HP, a jetpack that is activated when out of charges, a drone that fires along, causing dead bodies to explode etc.
The game has a minimal, retro-like style and only uses three colours. Through multiple runs experience is gained for a global level. It unlocks different playing styles that influence risk and reward and palette swaps for the colours. A harder mode can be unlocked as well.
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Related Web Sites
- Downwell (official website)
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