Downwell – PS4 Review
Downwell is a pixelated randomly generated, fast paced shmup, but in reverse. The graphics are very simple, but effective. You fall down a well with rocket boots that shoot downwards at things rising up from the bottom. There is platforming as well, and each level has an end. As you progress, things get harder, but it’s easy to pick up and play. You can get different shots for your boots like laser and a triple spread shot, among others, as well as a power-up at the end of each level, enabling you get a bit of an edge on the increasingly difficult enemies and stages. As you defeat enemies, you’ll gain gems thatyou can spend in shops, and collecting 100 gems rapidly will give you a “Gem High” enabling you to do more damage with your shot. Gem High will slowly tick down, but is replenished with each new gem picked up, rewarding fast play. There are shops where you can purchase items to heal your character or give you extra shots on your boots before reloading, which happens automatically whenever you touch the ground or stomp on an enemy, but be wary: not every enemy can be killed with a stomp, and not every enemy can be killed with your boots. Each time you die, it’s back to the start of level 1-1 with none of your powerups. As you progress, you’ll unlock “styles” for additional challenge or an edge, based on how you like to play, and palettes to change the color palette of the game.
What make’s Downwell so enjoyable is that it’s one of those easy-to-pickup, hard-to-master style arcade games. That means that right-off-the-bat you’ll be enjoying it, but as you progress, you’ll learn better techniques and skills, like the wall jump or comboing enemies without touching the ground for bonuses. The best thing about it is that if you don’t want to combo or wall jump, you certainly don’t have to. It’s up to how you, the player, wants to play it. Each area has its own soundtrack, visual style, mechanics and enemies to get used to, making each new area fun and fresh while still being challenging. Once you clear the 4 stages and the boss at the end, you’ll unlock hard mode, which throws even more enemies at you, and even enemies you haven’t seen in normal mode, making hard mode fun and interesting, if you can make it that far. Lastly, there is, of course, a leaderboard for those interested in that.
Downwell is short, however, in a way. One complete run of Downwell’s normal mode will run you about 15-20 minutes of gameplay, but the thing is, unless you instantly click with Downwell, it’s not going to be one run to get you to the bottom. It’ll probably take you a while to learn the mechanics, areas and enemies. Luckily, Downwell is only 5$ on PS4 and Vita (cross-buy, meaning $5 for both) as well as on Steam and Android, making it very affordable, and worth even more than it should be.
The Bottom Line
- Fun, fast-paced, arcade style action.
- Unique levels and mechanics, keeping the game very fresh.
- Plenty of powerups to tailor to your playstyle and keep things fresh.
- Easy to pick up, play, and enjoy, tough to master, but you’ll love every moment.
- Plenty of colors and other things to unlock.
- 5$ price tag.
- Not everyone will appreciate the simplistic art style.
- Ultimately, the game is pretty short once you get rather good at it.
Final Score: 9.5/10
If you’re looking for something to give you some fast fun for cheap, consider Downwell. You’ll find no better arcade style game quite like it.