Creature in the Well turns you into a pin-ball flipper. Developer by Flight School, they have some made something unique and special.
It takes its inspiration from various game styles – top-down hack and slash, dungeon crawler and arcade pinball. This mash-up might sound like it’s create a right mess, but the result is far from it. In fact, it’s actually a brilliant concept. Set in a desert town called Mirage, you are one of the last remaining robot engineers named BOT-C. Your job is stopping a deadly sandstorm that is plaguing the town and preventing people from leaving.
To do this you need to visit eight dungeons and slowly start restoring power to an ancient weather machine that will stop the sandstorm raging. Within these dungeons are various puzzle traps that have been set up by “The Creature” to prevent you from achieving your goal. Every now and then you’ll catch a glimpse of his looming eyes watching you from the bottom of the well. At the end of each dungeon is a boss fight, which all follow a similar format. The Creature pulls your platform further down the well and you have to complete puzzles to rise up and exit the chamber.
Every puzzle you complete earns electricity which can either be used to progress in the dungeon or level your character. It has a steep learning curve, but with that comes a great sense of satisfaction when you complete a challenging section within a dungeon. The puzzles are fun and I enjoyed the very unique gameplay mechanics. Charge shot seems to be your best friend as it helps align your shots, but you do need luck on your side occasionally. A few times I found myself completing a challenge by just charging up my shots, hitting and hoping for the best.
As you explore the dungeons you can discover hidden rooms by completing progressively more challenging puzzles. As a reward you unlock cores, capes and weapons (which give perks such as slowing time or laser sight) and I really enjoyed this collectable element. Whilst you can complete the game without these, like most dungeon crawlers, obtaining them will make your path to victory much easier, especially in relation to defeating the bosses at the end of each dungeon.
I found that each room brings a little something different, preventing repetition and frustration. But speaking of frustration, when you die The Creature will chuck you out of the dungeon and back to the town. It takes approximately a minute to get back to where you were, which doesn’t sound like a chore but starts to feel like a punishment for failure when you get stuck in a rut. However, CITW is very forgiving, as you get to keep all the electricity you earned so far, so you don’t feel like you’ve lost out.
If you collect enough electricity you can start skipping rooms, so if you do struggle you can move on for a price. You can also backtrack to previous rooms in earlier dungeons and most of the rooms can be reset and farmed, but really, where’s the fun in that?
The game has amazing art and textures and a brilliant colour palette. Every dungeon has different feel to it through the use of its own unique colour scheme. For a top-down style of game the movement is very fluid and response time is faultless. I never experienced any poor camera movement and it just works without issue.
I felt driven to push forward and successfully complete each room. It was such a joy to play something with unique gameplay, engaging visuals and the right balance of simplicity and challenge, I found myself not wanting it to end. And those of you out there making the most of the brilliant Game Pass service don’t have to have it end for you either – Creature in the Well is coming day one to the service. Now you have no excuse for checking it out!
Creature in the Well is visually fascinating and manages to bring together hack and slash with dungeon crawling and a pinball twist. It sounds like a strange mix, but it works brilliantly.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.