PAX EAST: Creature in the Well
Before PAX EAST, Nintendo hosted a special Nindies presentation to highlight the various up and coming indie games heading to the Nintendo Switch. Among them was a special looking game that seemed to have the visual fidelity of a 2000 AD Graphic novel, with an interesting combination of puzzle mechanics, hack-&-slash action, and pinball. This game was Creature in the Well by Flight School Studio. Sporting a unique look and combination of various gameplay mechanics, Creature in The Well certainly looks to provide a refreshingly different action experience, but looks can only get so far and I had the opportunity to play the game myself at PAX EAST. After some time with the demo, which included me slipping off the seat at the booth, Creature in The Well is certainly looking to be one of the most intriguing games on the Nintendo Switch this summer, if not the entire year.
The City of Mirage has been protected by a special, ancient weather0focused facility, but something has happened to the facility that puts the city in danger of being buried alive by sand. A strange creature has disrupted the facility and you, one of the last remaining bots in the facility’s security system, reactivated and tasked to restore the facility against the impending storm. to do this, players will need to defeat the malfunctioning machinery, as well as navigate the facility’s unique defensive systems to restore the core systems.
Creature In The Well, at first glance, appears as a common third-person isometric combat game, but moments after playing, you discover it is entirely different. The game combines the mechanics established in pinball video games, which is an exciting and incredibly fond genre of game that has been long-forgotten in the sea of modern games. In the 1990s pinball video games were incredibly common, utilizing the licenses of Metroid, Pokemon, Kirby, and various others. This genre provided the enjoyment and unique activity of pinball gaming with dazzling effects and without using any quarters. These games were common on Nintendo and Sega platforms, making significant impacts, such as Sonic Spinball, a dark, sharp, but brutally challenging take on the blue hedgehog. Remarking on Sonic Spinball, the game was more than just collecting a bunch of rings, but actually, a sophisticated action-adventure game set within a maniacal pinball machine.
Creature In The Well starts out simply enough. Your bot is reactivated and you quickly learn the basics. The facility circles around powerballs. These orbs of energy can power switches and doors to navigate through the facility. Players can swipe these balls into the desired direction, including using a charge attack to supercharge an energy ball. The demo introduced the concept of using the balls to activate switches but began introducing small challenges, such as using super-charged energy balls to power certain switches, and in some cases, in a particular order. During the demo, I found the controls refined and polished, never feeling frustrated. There was a moment of the demo that a bit too long to figure out, but that would be a nitpick tot he refined puzzle-focused combat.
The inspirations for the ball-breaker genre were readily apparent in the demo. One section was clearly inspired by Arkanoid, and there was even a section that reminded me of a game of baseball. Playing Creature In The Well brought back memories playing some fo these games, and the more I Played, the more nods I saw to video game pinball and the ballbreaker titles. Each new instance brought a new challenge, as well as a new way to test the gameplay mechanics. Before long, I had actually discovered a new weapon and made my way to the main chamber. Low and behold, the creature that started this conscription was made apparent. Soon, he triggered the activation of a massive defense system that is designed to eliminate all intruders.
I found myself wrapped in a giant circle of laser fire and energy was. On the outside circle were floating platforms, and on the inside were a series of energy beam barriers, firing seethingly burning energy beams towards me. At this moment, I felt like I was in the middle of a level from the action game Furi, which heightened the intensity of the situation. I had to avoid the laser,s avoid getting shot, but use the energy balls to not only attack, but disable the machine. I swung my sword with speed and accuracy, getting hit by the laser field a few times. The platform began rotating, which also hastened the danger. Using speed and feverishly slashing my sword in the air, I managed to disable some of the last turrets being fired at me. The rotating laser field still remained and after some patient persistence, I was able to slam the last energy ball and shut down the entire defense system. The demo concluded with me exiting the platform, and activating a very important component to the facility, marking one step closer to saving the city.
My time with Creature In The Well was astounding. The world and visuals featured were incredibly unique and the graphics style was refreshing to view. The focus on combat, puzzle solving, ball-breaker, and pinball mechanics was also an incredible gameplay experience, setting the game apart from the usual list of violent-focused action games. The team sought to create a game that sported the graphic novel look of Judge Dredd while creating a non-violent action experience. Based on my demo, it looks like they will succeed. With an entire labyrinthian facility to explore, a mysterious creature, and a plethora of puzzles, Creature In The Well is looking like a hot release for 2019.
Creature In The Well will launch exclusively for the Nintendo Switch in Summer of 2019.