Downwell: Endless Platforming Fun at an Unbelievable Price

Strap on your Gunboots and dive into Downwell, an arcade-style platformer with roguelite elements. Jump into a deep well filled with noxious creatures like bats, squids, and frogs. Shoot them with your Gunboots or land on their heads to take them out. But solid-colored enemies hurt you on contact, so avoid landing on them and do your best to shoot them instead. Fall deeper and deeper into the well to progress, and see how deep you can get!

Jump into Downwell, and see how deep you can get!
Jump into Downwell, and see how deep you can get!

Roguelite elements include permadeath, an invitation to keep grinding and improving with each run, procedurally generated levels, and a random assortment of upgrades to choose from at the end of each level. One upgrade causes broken blocks to shoot gunfire upwards; another lets you regain health from eating dead bodies; a “pretty balloon” explodes enemies on contact.

This perk lets you eat dead bodies to regain health.
This perk lets you eat dead bodies to regain health.

The vertically oriented gameplay can feel fast-paced, but your Gunboots slow your fall with each shot, and solid platforms and breakable blocks let you survey the area below. Killing enemies and breaking certain blocks releases gems, which are used to buy health and charges (for your gun) from shops. Shops are tucked inside tiny caves protected by bubble-like Time Voids that stop time for everything but you. Caves may also contain items like guns, health, and gems, so visit them whenever possible.

The charge determines how many shots your Gunboots can have.
The charge determines how many shots your Gunboots can have.

Being a roguelite, you’re expected to die a lot, but every unsuccessful run is still rewarding. The gems collected during a run unlock new play styles, like a floaty gravity mode, and new color palettes, like “MATCHA.” Dedicated players will improve with each run, and with all the upgrades, play styles, and color palettes on offer, each run of Downwell feels vastly different from the last.

There are tons of unlockable color palettes on offer.
There are tons of unlockable color palettes on offer.

Expect fluid gameplay and tight but simple controls. Move left and right, and press B to jump and shoot. You can only shoot if you’re airborne, so jump and/or fall when gunfire is needed. Ammo is limited, but recharges when you touch the ground or land on an enemy’s head. (The exception? Landing on a solid-colored enemy’s head!) Various Gunboots are hidden throughout the levels, including machine guns, laser beams, and shotguns. Each set of Gunboots has its own pros and cons, and you’ll have to adapt to whatever set you find.

Each set of Gunboots is different from the next. The fiery mass in the lower-center of this image is the gunfire from our current pair of Gunboots!
Each set of Gunboots is different from the next. The fiery mass in the lower-center of this image is the gunfire from our current pair of Gunboots!

Downwell’s 8-bit graphics are authentically retro, as if they were ripped right out of a polished NES title. Your character is essentially a stick man, and your enemies feature simple yet charming designs. Some players could find the graphics boring if the default red, black, and white color scheme were the only one on offer, but we’ve already unlocked 20+ palettes in just 5 hours of play, and we have no idea how many more are available.

We've already unlocked 23 palettes, and who knows how many more there are to unlock?
We’ve already unlocked 23 palettes, and who knows how many more there are to unlock?

Eerie chiptune music sets a perfectly retro tone, but the sound of gunfire is the real star of the show. We’re not sure why the gunfire is so much louder than the music, but we appreciate it. The loud gunfire also adds a touch of realism, since the blast of a shotgun or machine gun in real life would drown out any music in the background. We love playing Downwell with the sound on, but it’s also a great game to mute while you listen to music of your choice.

Get ready for a perfectly retro soundscape, including eerie chiptunes and piercing gunfire.
Get ready for a perfectly retro soundscape, including eerie chiptunes and piercing gunfire.

At its price point, Downwell is an absolute steal, and it might even be the best value you’ll ever find on the Nintendo eShop. This indie appeals to gamers of all kinds, from beginners to expert platformers. Most players probably won’t get very far at first, but progression is always possible with enough effort, and even failed runs result in new play styles and color palettes. If Downwell even remotely interests you, give it a try today—you’ve only got $2.99 to lose!

Platform – Nintendo Switch eShop Download
Publisher – Devolver Digital
Developer – Moppin
Price – $2.99
Genre – Arcade, Action, Adventure
Size – 58.7 MB

For the price, we don't think you could possibly find more value on the eShop than you can with Downwell.
For the price, we don’t think you could possibly find more value on the eShop than you can with Downwell.

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