Retro graphics, check. Rapid platforming action, check. Old school difficulty, check. Downwell is a nostalgic game that doesn’t hold your hand but always plays fair. When it hit iOS and Steam in 2015, reviewers went nuts over it. Now that unforgiving, teeth-grinding gameplay is finally hitting Android.
Downwell is game in which you, and try to keep up here, fall down a well. It’s a rouge-like vertical scroller in which you collect gems, equipment, and upgrades in procedurally generated levels. The game was designed by a single 23-year-old developer Ojiro Fumoto, and it is singularly intense. Although many have compared it to Spelunky, Downwell is far more action-oriented, requiring laser focus on the part of the player.
It’s one of those games that, in Polygon’s words, makes you feel like “an actual goddamn ninja.” In addition to the breakneck gameplay speed, you’re also forced to make constant decisions that will affect your playthrough.
For instance, health is bundled with weapon pickups. You might be carrying an awesome weapon, but be low on health. You chance upon a side room and are gleeful to so a plump and rejuvenating heart, but what’s this? If you pick it up, you’ll have to trade in your bazooka for a peashooter. What’s your call? Keep the bigger gun and chance going forward with that sliver of health, or set aside Ol’ Trusty in favor of that extra damage cushion?
For hardcore players, there aren’t a whole lot of options on the mobile gaming environment that demand this much skill and focus of the player. The vertical orientation makes it a natural fit for smartphones, and the simple-yet-elegant on-screen controls become second nature after just a few playthroughs.
Downwell is currently available in the Google Play Store for a one-time payment of $2.99. There are no advertisements or in-app purchases, and forking over the cash or Google Opinion Rewards credit will go toward funding a young and inventive developer, so we highly encourage you to give it a whirl.