Downwell Hands-On Preview

Downwell is an amazingly simple yet addictive vertical shooter currently in the works by indie developer Ojiro Fumoto, also known as Moppin. I had a chance to spend some time with Moppin and Downwell at PAX East 2015, and it quickly became one of my top picks this year.

So what do you do in Downwell? The title tells you all you need to know, as the main point is to control a young man as he falls down a well. Did I mention he is equipped with gun boots? That's right, I said gun boots. This guy can shoot his gun boots at enemies as he descends down the well, collecting gems along the way. Controls are basic but smart, the only inputs being left, right, and jump. Double jump activates your gun boots and touching the ground replenishes ammo. While it may sound simple, it was still challenging, taking a few tries to get through the first level. Completing levels will earn you upgrades such as laser guns with huge vertical beams or bullet casings that cause splash damage.

Downwell features minimalist pixel graphics, using only black and white with a dash of red for dangerous enemies or gemstones. Gemstones make a tinkling sound as they bounce along the ground, though Fumoto did mention that he is toying with the possibility of adding in music.

Downwell has a lot of charm, and you'll definitely want to keep an eye out for it if you like a fun, challenging game with replayability. Moppin plans to release Downwell for Steam, Android, and iOS later this year, although there is currently no set date.