This Isn’t Your Grandaddy’s Pinball
It’s rare that we get a game that has such a unique art style combined with gameplay unlike anything we have seen before. Flight School Studios latest game, Creature in the Well, is just that. Long after beating the game, I still find myself thinking about the game’s bonkers way of adapting pinball to a hack-n-slash style while also fearing that the creature in the well may be lurking underneath my bed.
Creature in the Well starts off with you in control of a BOT, a relic from a time long past that provided maintenance to a now defunct machine inside of a well. You awake in a desert, left to your devices to make it to town. Through a series of events, you come across the creature in the well who likes things dark, creepy, and broken. It is because of this creature that the machine is no longer working and will do everything it can to prevent you from bringing life back to the land.
This enigmatic creature haunts you throughout your journey. At times, you’ll glance off into the darkness and find a pair of eyes staring back at you or following you as you walk across a runway. While the hollow tones of the music do a decent job of setting the atmosphere, it’s the creature that truly sets a terrifying tone throughout the game.
As you enter into town, you’ll come across a few NPCs such as a purple alligator who will upgrade your cores and a frog who will fill you in on the lore while sweeping away. If only the “Sweeperbot” in Destiny could have been as useful.
Creature in the Well‘s gameplay is very unique. As you continue your journey to charge up the well to get it back up and running, you’ll use two different weapons to accomplish this task: a charge and strike blade. How the game works is you’ll enter into a room that will unlock the next room through a variety of puzzles. The puzzles involve you holding a charge with one blade and launching it with the other. You’ll unlock the next room by knocking out panels, charging pylons, or breaking bubbles. The puzzles increase in difficulty as you press forward. However, the more variety of blades you acquire bring depth to the gameplay and give you an edge. By the time I finished the game, I had a charge blade that would recharge charges, one that granted invulnerability while using, another that attracted any charge that was near; just to name a few.
This is where the game’s unique pinball-hack-n-slash style really shines. It would be easy to mess this up but the variety of puzzles combined with how you can redirect charges brings a degree of satisfaction that kept me playing for large chunks of time.
There are 8 sections of the well to clear but you will not bring one back to power easily. At the end of each section will lead into a room where the creature will taunt you. This is your opportunity to steel yourself as the next room will lead into a boss fight. These boss battles are also unique in that they’re like a gauntlet of areas to complete. While these won’t pose much of a threat at first, the later run-ins with the creature will really test your skills. You would do well to try to unlock any and all secret rooms you can in each section as they’ll net you new blades.
An issue I had with the gameplay came in the form of the dash mechanic. While it’s useful for this kind of game, I never felt like it was as useful as it could been. The dash either brought me up too short or didn’t get me out of danger fast enough. I wound up relying on just sprinting or taking the damage from the attack.
Another issue I had with the game involved the button mapping. While this is a feature I wish more games would implement, and am grateful it’s here, it often reset my remapped controls. It was frustrating to boot the game back up and have to remap the charge blade to the left trigger. The majority of players probably won’t deal with this but I think it’s worth mentioning for those who do choose to remap the controls.
Creature in the Well is a game that’s sure to stick with you long after you finish playing it. Even now, I’m trying to figure out where the last cape is that I’m missing; that 99% on my save is driving my OCD crazy. For just $14.99, roughly 5 hours of play, it’s a bit of a no brainer. If you’re looking for something different to play, look no further than Creature in the Well. Especially if you’re a fan of pinball, action games, or both. Creature in the Well is available on Nintendo Switch, PC, and Xbox One (Game Pass).
Notes for Parents
Creature in the Well is rated E for Everyone for Mild Language and Mild Fantasy Violence. The only word of caution we would offer to parents is that the creature may be scary for some younger gamers. Other than that, it’s one that can be enjoyed by the whole family.
To see the game in action, check out our video: