Pinball is one of the most iconic types of games in existence. Arcade halls were full of these machines in the ’80s. I have fond memories of touching the flippers, shooting the balls, and aiming for a high score. My dad introduced me to pinball as a child, and I’ve played for over two decades. When I heard about Creature in the Well, the thought of pinball, hack-and-slash, and dungeon-crawling seemed like the most absurd combination ever. My love of each genre left me cautiously optimistic, but the end result had me grinning from ear to ear. Creature in the Well is an excellent experience that begs to be played by anyone looking for something unique.
The story follows a Bot-C machine who is tasked to clear out a sandstorm, poised to obliterated a nearby city. To do this, your robot must travel into a massive facility, and restore power to the junction. With most jobs, this objective isn’t the easiest thing to accomplish. The problem is that there is a terrifying, deadly, and unpredictable monster lurking within the depths of the factory. Unlike most dungeon-crawlers, there isn’t a single instance of combat in Creature in the Well.
Pacifism is the key to success
It’s weird to say that there isn’t combat in Creature in the Well, but there is quite a bit of action. Players explore the various facilities, attempting to activate each of them. To do this, you’ll need power to make it through all of the rooms. Power is gained by charging electrical balls and hitting nodes with amplified projectiles. Here’s where the pinball aspect comes into play. By holding down X, you’ll charge the electrical ball. While doing this, you must aim where you want the shot to go, and then press Y to shoot the ball. The ball usually bounces back your way. At this point, there are two options; you can strike the ball back to the desired location, or you can charge the ball once again with X. There’s strategy when it comes to deciding what type of shot you want to make.
Striking a ball back immediately may seem like the right move to do because a lot of the nodes you want to activate are timed. This means that after activating a node, another will appear with a countdown. If you don’t hit the newly powered node within the time limit, you’ll have to do all of them again. Personally, striking didn’t always prove to be effective. My tactic would be to charge the ball, shoot it, catch the ball when it bounced back, quickly charge it again, and repeat. With added power, nodes can be activated faster, meaning that you can get out of hot water when needed.
Are you ready for a challenge?
Creature in the Well is a very deceptive game. When I started, I breezed through the first few zones in about an hour. I love difficult video games, so I was slightly turned off by the simplicity I was presented with. After a while, I needed to throw those preconceived notions out the window, because the difficulty suddenly ramped up. This unexpected change in intensity left me feeling satisfied in every room I entered. Between attempting to activate the nodes, dodging obstacles that try to get in your way, and dealing with traps thrown by the creature, later sections will truly test your reflexes.
Off the beaten path
Creature in the Well is a fairly linear game. Players need to get from point A to point B in every section. There’s a minimap on the bottom of the screen that lets you know where the next room is. Some rooms have multiple paths to take. Most will lead you to the area’s boss battle, but others will take you to special rooms. These sections can either contain a pool to regenerate health, rooms with new charge and strike weapons, and cores that are used to upgrade your bot’s level. Obviously, you can just go and fight the boss, but finding additional items will alleviate the difficult battles that will definitely stop you in your tracks.
A few hitches along the way
For the most part, Creature in the Well is a smooth running game. Throughout the three and a half hour adventure, everything was wonderful. Unfortunately, the final boss encounter brought all the action to a slowdown. There were a lot of projectiles flying throughout the arena, and because of this, I started to experience slowdown. It’s a shame, since that was the only instance when technical issues reared its head and started to bog down my time with the game. The audio aspects are exceptional, and the cel-shaded visuals are a joy to look at. It just sucks that a single moment, and a pivotal one for that matter, provided me with frustration.
A hodgepodge of ideas that works well together
On paper, Creature in the Well is a game that should not work. Developer Flight School, took a considerable risk melding the pinball, dungeon-crawler, and the hack-and-slash genres together into a cohesive experience. Luckily, the team created a truly unique experience that is unlike anything else on the market. The story is interesting, the gameplay mechanics are engaging, the various sectors are diverse, and the game doesn’t overstay its welcome. Creature in the Well takes elements gamers are used to and presents in a way never seen before. It’s worth a playthrough. Whether you buy it or download it as part of Game Pass, you should definitely tackle the journey to save the city of mirage. You won’t regret it.