PC and Xbox One users have already had the opportunity to play Creature in the Well, but now it’s the players chance as it’s now available on the PS4: a pinball-inspired hack and slash.
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After starting up the game, following a few splash screens, a large title header showed the game in bold ‘CREATURE IN THE WELL’, during an apparent sandstorm. A lone figure, no doubt the last of the BOT-C units, stands in the foreground like something from a prog-rock album cover; very, very cool.
The only problem is the game appeared to crash. I had pressed X to start the game, but the title and animation sequence remained. Bashing a few buttons to make sure the controller didn’t prematurely die, I knocked the stick, and the robot engineer moved forward. What a subtle introduction; the scene is fairly minimal, but brilliant nonetheless. Already, Creature in the Well, from Flight School Studio, had me puckered up, and I was ready to play.
Lot’s To See In A Sandstorm
There’s a reason why there’s a bit of a hoo-ha about the Steam release having a digital art book of the artwork in Creature in the Well – the visuals are stunning! The same can be said about the soundtrack too, and as you’ll note in the news piece, there’s a link on the Steam page to purchase both.
If you’re up for it.
The use of colours and textures are, let us not get too technical with arty-farty speak, superb. There’s bound to be some people who’ll get their calculators out and break down the polygons, but I loved the visuals. But let’s not neglect the score in Creature in the Well. It’s not haunting as such, but there’s an element where it draws you in and quite mesmerising. Good work Jim Fowler, I’m sold.
The controls are initially easy to get used to. The left analogue stick moves your bot about and pressing X dashes forward, or holding it longer will allow it to run without worrying about stamina, all portrayed from a third-person perspective. There are a few times when you’ll die and respawn outside of the mountain where all the action takes place. In these scenarios, the dash is your friend. When it gets to the pinball mechanics, it’s the classic ‘easy to handle, difficult to master’ mantra.
You encounter the Creature immediately, and it’s not the most welcoming, saying that it’ll be watching you. Creep. It has a particular menace to it, but seemingly leaves you be for the time being, but will later rear its head when you start making progress. Surprisingly, the Creature encounters aren’t incredibly difficult, but your bot will only take a few hits, and when you die, you never regenerate health.
There’s minimal guidance, but you don’t need it. The concept is simple: locate each reactor, power it up to restore power to the town, and beat off (wahey!) the Creature in the process. Each stage is a series of rooms with various puzzles that rely on directing a group of balls towards these pinball-like buffers that generate energy. Think of it as a play on the game Squash as you’ll bounce your balls off the environment quite often. Art imitating life?
To direct these balls across a room, you swipe at them via a range of tools from a gumbo spoon to a baseball bat. Also, there’s a charge weapon that generates a bit more oomph into these orbs, pulls them back like a magnet if nearby, plus most of them have special abilities that can help in some areas massively (the healing feature was my go-to option for some time).
Each time you destroy these objects, you collect the energy to be able to open doorways, pressing the R1 button, or saving up enough to upgrade your cores. With regards to the doors, they’ll have a required amount of energy needed to open, hence why you collect it in the first place. You’ll need a reserve amount for the end of each level too. Additional cores can be found around each stage – usually in a not so hard to find secret area. The purpose is to increase your capacity for energy, meaning you can collect more in one go for some of the doors that require a large amount to open.
Available In A Range Of Colours
Each stage in Creature in the Well has a similar construction, but the hues will differ, and the challenges will increase. While the strategy of hitting the balls with a baseball bat into objects is a simple one, the trajectory changes up, and you’ll have increasing threats of turrets attacking you or hazards flying towards you, all the while trying to beat a countdown.
The most challenging part is the timed sections. It’s not difficult to find secret areas as already mentioned, but unlocking them is the tricky bit as you may have to destroy a series of obstacles in a set time. Usually, these times are just enough if you’re going at full speed, so you need to be perfect a lot of the time, plus there are no difficulty settings.
Though some are hard, a lot of areas are optional as you can grind places to earn enough energy to get to the next area, though you won’t be able to find all the weapons, and with their perks, they’re game-changers. Expect to find items in Creature in the Well that slow down time, regenerate health and even have a laser guide for accuracy.
Power To The People
In the early stages, Creature in the Well felt like it was going to be over pretty quick, but that may be down to binging the title – it’s that enjoyable and reasonably stress-free.
Within a couple of hours, I was halfway through and not in a hurry to go through each section, so I slowed it down a bit. My biggest incentive was to collect the various capes in the game. Say what you will – they offer little but cosmetic appeal, and made me happy. Who doesn’t like a robot in a cape? In truth, though, the real incentive was the game.
There are a few NPCs to engage with, but nothing that will change the direction of the story. There’s an odd-looking creature that helps you with powering up your core, though. If you know anyone called Danielle, don’t show them that bit. Maybe the character was based on an ex? Overall though, Creature in the Well was/is a blast. The visuals hooked me instantly, but the gameplay carried me through – which is kind of necessary in a game, don’t you think?
A review code was supplied for this piece, and at no time was I threatened to be thrown down a well by any parties if I gave a bad review. If it's not clear enough, I loved Creature in the Well, all by myself.