Game Review: Downwell (Steam)

Title Downwell
Platform: Steam / Windows
Available on OS: Windows
Genre:rogue-like, shooter, platformer, retro
Game number:2 of 1005 steam games (< 1%)

Summary review:
Graphics: I like the retro vibe of Downwell and performance is excellent: 5/5
Music: I’m glad the music is either great or passing as it loops a lot: 5/5
Controls: Best with an actual gamepad, no complaints: 5/5
Replayability: Since I’m describing this as a “rouge-like” it’s actually made to be played over and over again. You might replayability is actually the genre of the game. And downwell pulls this off flawlessly.
Total score: 90 / 100 – An extremely great albeit (for me anyway) really difficult game. It has some “rogue-like” attributes to it in that you earn points and power-ups that will carry over to the next attempt. I love the unlockable color schemes, the music, the great controls. I really can’t think of anything wrong with this game. Also, it’s always under $5US, which doesn’t hurt.

Steam says I only played this for 8 hours but I swear it’s been longer than that. I was playing it every night before bed for a while there via my first gen GPDWin (which I’ll post a review of eventually). I did play it with Steam in “offline mode” an awful lot which probably skewed the play time tracker (I was trying to discourage Windows 10 home from attempting to install the latest build of Windows 10 for reasons I won’t get into in this review).

Looking at the screenshots of this game you can probably tell the hardware requirements aren’t exactly going to be really high.

The play screen or “portal” if you will doesn’t even take up the whole screen and when the game is first starting it is entirely in shades of grey like an old Gameboy game.

The play is sort of…well as the name implies you literally jump down a well and can only shoot straight down. In a way it’s sort like a vertical shoot-em-up just with a humanoid character and stops along the way.

It does have some rogue-like elements to it: as you die and replay upgrades are unlocked as are color schemes for the game itself.

This game is really, really difficult however. Even if I really have only played this for 8 hours I don’t know that I’m really any closer to getting to the end. The game still seems fun no matter how many times I have to start over from the beginning however. And that is the where the success of a game such as really succeeds or fails as a game: is the game still compelling even after starting at that same starting point for the 200th time?

In my case and my opinion: yes, it does succeed in this. If I ever succeed in building my arcade cab – a very questionable if at this point – this will definitively be included.


Metadata

Method of control used XBox One gamepad (USB/off-brand)
Controllable via both one analog stick or digital four-way (“HAT”) yes
Hardware requirements: extremely low end/atom
PCs tried on ~2013 era core i7 laptop/nVidia GPU at 1080p (full screen) running windows 7
First gen portable PC GPDWin with atom CPU at 720p running windows 10 build 1803
Works with 4:3 screens Works without issue
Initial setup required Had to initially set the game to “full screen” but after that 100% enter game -> play -> exit out entirely with gamepad.
Steam UID 360740

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