Thank you so much to Flight School Studios & Popagenda PR for providing a review code
Creature in The Well was the game from the 2019 Spring Nindie Showcase that really grabbed my attention. Controlling a character while using pinball style mechanics to take down obstacles was very intriguing. The whole concept of the game looked unique, but I was still skeptical. I worried that I was mesmerized by the idea of it and forgot to think about the execution. Well, after getting the chance to journey through Creature in The Well. I can happily prove my skepticism wrong.
Our story starts off in a desolate desert where our character an unnamed robot wakes up in an isolated world. Not knowing who, or where we are, we adventure through a temple like structure and make it to a small village. The village is seemingly lifeless as there’s not a single person in view, only houses and if you listen closely enough you can hear what may be whispers. We enter the tall structure and find nothing but some obelisks, a large sealed door, and a janitor. After talking to the janitor we learn that we are a robot known as a BOT-C engineer. Long ago the BOT-C engineers use to help run this grand structure which was a machine that provided life to the village.
One day the engineers started slowly disappearing and the machine slowly started losing its functions. Without the machine’s power the desert covered the city and the area around it. Now for 100 years the residents have locked themselves inside, wondering if there was ever anything outside, besides the sand.
As the last engineer, you take up the quest to reactivate each of the machine’s cores in hopes of restoring it to its former glory. You’re the village’s only hope, so it’s up to you to bring the village and its people out of solitude. However, what we’re unaware of is what lurks in the shadows and the truth behind what happened to the engineers 100 years ago.
This is Creature in The Well
Creature in The Well is a 3D action, puzzle pinball experience. As I mentioned before, your goal is to reestablish the power in each of the machine’s cores to restore the machine to full capacity.
Each of the machine’s different parts/modules acts as their own dungeon. It’s a format that bears resemblance to the Legend of Zelda series. I say that, especially, because each dungeon is usually focused on a new type of obstacle.
Learning how to play Creature in The Well is very much as the saying goes easy to learn, but hard to master. As you adventure in the dungeons you will enter rooms that will have bumpers for you to hit. There will be spots where balls will spawn and you have to hit these balls against the bumpers to complete the puzzles. You also have the ability to gravitate multiple balls together and charge them to send them all out at once and make them stronger.
Each room in a dungeon has some sort of pinball style puzzle to solve. There’s a large amount of variety among the game’s obstacles and puzzles. Sometimes you have to hit all of the bumpers in a certain time period, or maybe this room has lasers that periodically fire out at you. One of the most common obstacles is the cannons. The cannons will shoot out a charged orange blast at you in an attempt to impede your progress. However, these cannons are crucial to your success as you can use your charge ability to turn those energy blasts into balls for you to use.
There was one obstacle that I really dreaded and found that it actually hurt my experience. In some rooms there are these large red post that sits in the room. Should one of your balls hit this large post, it will send out a delayed blast that affects a very wide area. It was very difficult to try and dodge these blasts as they covered such a wide radius. When there were two of these close together they could be set off at the same time making it near impossible to dodge them. I think this obstacle was the only one that I had an issue with.
Many of the game’s obstacles don’t even have to be solved. You can leave rooms unfinished if you want. What you need to make sure you have enough of is energy. By completing puzzles inside rooms and hitting bumpers you gain energy. Energy is needed to open doors within dungeons, and ultimately reach their end.
While it’s not required to finish the puzzle in each room it is recommended. Certain rooms when completed will spawn a large bumper that you can pinball around to get a huge sum of energy. Not to mention by completing certain rooms you you can also uncover secret pathways that will unlock new weapons and upgrades.
Your item used to hit the balls and charge them are separate from each other. Along your journey you will come across new items to add to your arsenal. Some even have extra affects like creating a line to see where your charged balls will go, or creating a chain lightning effect when colliding with a bumper. Having different abilities attaches to the items made me really try my best to find and collect them all.
You can also find old cores during your journey that will be used to upgrade your power core. Upgrading cost energy, but by doing so you’re charge ability will become stronger, making it easier to collect energy.
Creature in The Well’s challenge really shows itself during the boss fight in each level. As you may have thought there is an actual Creature that lives in the well and he is behind the deaths of all of the BOT-c engineers. At the end of each dungeon he will pull down the platform you’re standing on and the boss fight will ensue.
Every boss fight has multiple parts that must be complete to survive. You will have to take out multiple obstacles to finish the boss fight and they’re usually much deadlier then the rest of the dungeon.
Should you choose to take a break from fixing the machine you can take some time to explore the village. The village is small, but there’s a few items and secrets to be found in it. You can also walk around to hear dialogue from those who are locked away in their houses. Don’t expect to interact with many characters, however as you’re almost always alone. Luckily, at the end of every dungeon you can read logs from the worker that expand on the game’s backstory.
I’ve talked a lot about Creature in The Well’s positive aspects, but even still it’s not a perfect game. When you get hit by a blast of energy it leaves you stunned for a moment. The stun lag lasts for long enough so that you can end up in a chain of repeatedly getting hit. You should have complete control over your movement right after being attacked. The lack of actual invincibility frames also added on to this frustration.
The issue I think may affect many players’ enjoyment of Creature in The Well is the game’s spike in difficulty. I would say for about 2/3’s of the game the difficulty is at a reasonably normal level. However, when you’re closing in on finishing the game the last few dungeons really ramp up the difficulty. Now I’m not the best at video games, but I could tell that there was a sudden significant increase in difficulty. Maybe if the change felt more gradual this wouldn’t have been such an issue. I do, however, worry that the increase in difficulty will leave players frustrated and hurt their experience with the game.
Creature in The Well uses an animated visual design that makes everything look like it jumped out of a painting. Everything is very bright and intriguing with overarching isolated tone. While there are two characters you can interact with, Creature in The Well makes you feel like you’re always alone. The detail that was placed into the game’s presentation is amazing. This may be the best looking pinball style game there is.
I can happily report I experienced very little technical issues, during my playthrough. I did experience some minor frame rate drops, during some of the game’s more intense sequences. However, these issues were infrequent and did not have a significant effect on the gameplay.
Despite the difficulty spike I think Creature in The Well is a unique take on the action genre that successfully blends puzzle and pinball mechanics. The gameplay is very satisfying and the world is beautifully animated. You’ll most likely be drawn in by Creature in The Well’s story which starts off vague and unravels itself into quite the interesting narrative. If you’re not the type of person that’s willing to make a few attempts to get things right, then maybe avoid this one. However, if you’re alright with putting in the time to improve Creature in The Well is a genuinely terrific adventure.
Satisfying Blend of Pinball, Action & Puzzle Solving Gameplay
Intriguing Story & Setting
Beautifully Animated Visual Design
New Unique Tools & Cosmetics to be Found
Significant Difficulty Spike 2/3 of The Way Through The Game