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Fun2Play: Downwell


Downwell logo.png

I'm going to try something different and actually post regularly content on this site. It's a scary and bold thing, I know.

So, mobile games. I think I like them. I've certainly played enough of them to know what I want, and what I want is the fun challenging, re-playable experiences that I get from dedicated handheld consoles. Now, that's a tall order, especially when one can cop out and just make a free-2-play and rake in the millions (not that that's guaranteed of course) but there are games in the app store that shook the constraints and expectations of the platform and produce some unique experience that serve as a new standard and actually try to push the envelope. I would like to highlight those games.

The first game I want to talk is kind of a cheat because it's a port of a game released on PC, but it showcases how that isn't a bad thing, being able to implement the touchscreen controls because the game itself is already accessible and intuitive. The game I'm writing about is Downwell, an unconventional shoot em up where the player character descends down a well, shooting and/or jumping on enemies to rack up combos and gems to power up in the effort to go further down the well. And that's the game in its entirety. At least that's as far as I've gotten with it, because it's hard as fuck!

It's controls are simple; left, right, and jump/shoot, invoking the simplistic, hassle free game design of yesterday. There are no ads, no microtransactions, no tutorials; you buy the game once and your good to go forever. There's no penalty for dying over and over again either, it's completely up to you and your twitchy thumbs to see to the end. The further you get, the further you level up and unlock different "styles" to choose from in the beginning. The player character can handstand (meaning no gun upgrades, but cheaper prices at the shops), or roll like a boulder (have more health from the start, but find less upgrades.) The choice (and difficulty) is yours.

Seeing, and playing, such a game on iOS feels alien. The 'easy to learn, difficult to master' mechanics, the crunchy sound effects of gunblasts and explosions and gem collecting, the ambient retro soundtrack, the ability to unlock and change the color palette of the game (if you pick anything other than "pastel," you're wrong!) This is videogames to me. This is the play it for fun, master it for glory I want to see more of on mobile. There's no fun in paying for in-app purchases, I don't feel the challenge, I don't sense the effort to in the worlds; I sense the approaching gatekeepers constantly asking me if I'm having fun. Downwell doesn't need to ask me if I'm having fun because it knows it. It's having fun with me.

This is me rambling, and not very informative, and I apologize. But I really like Downwell and want to express it as gregariously as possible. And the point of this series is to highlight the best of mobile games. (Also improve the quality, and quantity, of my writing.)

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About Dark Chaoone of us since 8:49 AM on 11.15.2014