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Downwell
Game Reviews

Downwell

A high-energy mobile port that can be enjoyed in small chunks; action fans can’t go wrong here.

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Mobile ports get a bad rap on Steam. It’s not entirely undeserved; sticking your Android or Unity game up on the storefront with a slapdash port job can make for easy money for less scrupulous developers, after all. Still, they’re not all bad, and we’re seeing more mobile ports that are worth a look on PC. Knights of Pen and Paper and its sequel, for instance, are pretty solid games that just happened to begin life on mobile devices.

Another great example of a mobile game that’s found new life on PC is Downwell, a roguelike platformer from Moppin. This game claims on its iOS store page to be “designed from mobile from the ground up” but it works just fine on PC.

Downwell has a deep and complex plot…well, no it doesn’t. It’s a game about a guy jumping down a well while wearing boots with guns on them. Your Gunboots are your only real weapon, but they’re fairly versatile; Mario stomping on most enemies kills them and gunfire takes out anything. Wanton carnage results in gems, which can be spent in shops throughout the well. There are also caves interspersed throughout the well that contain powerups which change your shot type and provide a boost of healing or ammunition. The game is split into levels with a brief intermission between each, as well as a boss to wrap the whole thing up.

Simple, right? There’s a deceptive amount of depth underneath the seemingly simple gameplay and low-fi graphics, though. Your Gunboots can be switched to a variety of weapon types, from a piercing laser to a shotgun blast. You’ll earn perks between each level that provide an array of bonuses ranging from explosive stomping to turning your spent shell casings into damaging projectiles. You’ll also need to carefully manage your money, as this is a roguelike, death means starting over and health is hard to come by outside of shops.

There’s also a combo system in play; if you can kill eight enemies through stomping or gunshots before touching the ground, you’ll earn a hefty gem bonus, with further aerial murder providing progressively larger prizes. Your Gunboots don’t reload until you touch a solid surface, though, so your ammo is going to come from stomping if you’re going for combos and missteps can be dangerous. Once you get the combo itch, the game becomes much more fast-paced and lethal, as you do your best to wipe out entire levels in a single leap.

Downwell isn’t an especially long game, and depending on your skill and playstyle a successful run could take you anywhere from ten minutes to half an hour. It’s addictive, though. There’s plenty of replay value as the maps are randomly generated, plus there are five “styles” of play that change your character’s appearance and tweak aspects of the game. Back in the day they’d call this a “coffee break game;” today they call it a mobile port. It’ll only run you $3, less than the pumpkin spice latte you’re probably drinking. Nice, right?

As mobile ports go, Downwell is the cream of the crop. it’s on par with one of my favorites, Super House of Dead Ninjas, another high-energy game that can be enjoyed in small chunks in your spare time. Action fans can’t go wrong here. Take your $3, send it to Gabe Newell or Tim Cook as suits your preference and fall in love – literally – with Downwell.

About the Author: Cory Galliher