There is no denying that I have a secret love for brick breaker type games and all my old cell phones are inclined to agree. Ever since I got my first cell phone, a Kyocera brick, back in 2003 I have purchased/downloaded a variation of a brick breaker style game on every phone and console I have ever owned. That being said, when my editor mentioned Creature in the Well and what its premise was, it was a no brainer that I NEEDED to play this game as soon as possible.
The beauty of Creature in the Well though is that it is not just a typical brick breaker game, it is also an adventure title that will put you at your wit’s end as you try to beat every room against all possible odds, and I mean ALL OF THEM.
In Creature in the Well you play as BOT-C, the last of a group of robot engineers from a long time ago that has somehow fallen asleep? Deactivated? Upon rebooting itself, BOT-C quickly realizes it is in the midst of a sandstorm that would make the Skywalker boys on Tatooine seek shelter immediately. After making its way to a nearby town, it takes it upon itself to restore power to a giant facility to save the town. The only problem is that the facility has been taken over by a huge creature who lives in the shadows and has disabled power in the entire place, hence the name of the game! Some locals will converse with and help BOT-C in his endeavour, but for the most part, the townsfolk stay indoors due to the sandstorm.
So why the brick breaker reference? That’s because the entirety of the action of Creature in the Well comes from using your weapons to ‘bat’ balls of energy at different enemies and objects in the room. You can “charge” the balls up so that they do more damage, but ultimately the idea is to clear a room out of everything in it by whacking the balls around the room and bouncing them off of corners to reach hard to reach objects.
Of course, you won’t be facing the enemies with your bare fists. You have 2 different types of “Swords” that you use to bat energy balls around. You have the “Strike Tools” which will just hit the balls back to where they came from, but more importantly, there are the “Charge Tools” which draw any of those balls of energy to you so that you can aim which direction you want to hit them in. As you play Creature in the Well, you will unlock different weapons of both varieties that provide different bonuses such as an actual indicator for your aim or supercharging the balls to do extra damage.
In order to restore the facility to its former glory, BOT-C has to go into each of its wings individually and restore the power to that specific sector. I’ll be honest, as I’ve never worked in a large building like that, I wasn’t entirely sure of what each sector did, but I knew they were important to the overall operations. Although, this is also futuristic so it is a bit more than simply restoring the power grids!
Of course, the Creature has been living in the facility for a very long time and is quite comfy and has no intentions of letting you just waltz in and take over its home. To protect its home, the Creature has laid traps all over the facility to stop you from restoring power to the individual sectors and will, at the end of each sector, come after you itself to try and stop you. Of course, the first few sectors you tackle will be fairly simple, but by the time you are around halfway into the game, the difficulty gets cranked right up to 11!
I have one piece of advice – Get used to dying, you’ll be doing so quite often! Although, saying you ‘die’ is not necessarily accurate as when you run out of health the Creature will pick your body up and promptly toss you out of the facility, into the near town. It can be a major pain in the butt to get back to where you were, but thankfully BOT-C can run really fast. If you die during the boss encounter though, as soon as you enter the facility, there is a portal that will take you to the end of that sector.
You might be wondering how you are able to open up these futuristic doors if there is no power in the whole facility (Good question). Well, BOT-C can retain energy in its body and this acts as a sort of currency that can be used to power doors and force them to open. Some doors might only cost 1,000 units of power to open, while you can also come across doors that require a LOT more. You earn this energy by many different means such as defeating enemies, clearing out a room, or simply by breaking objects in the environment.
Each sector that you go into has its own colour scheme, but unfortunately, that was about the only thing that made it look unique to me. By the time I made it to my fifth sector, I started to feel like it was getting too repetitive, which combined with the intense difficulty spike, made me really start to lose interest in the game. I would go into rooms where I would destroy a single object and then the room would have a bunch of bumpers that would pop up with a timer that would require absolute precision to destroy them all in that time. If you fail, then that first bumper would pop back out and you have to start all over. Even if you have the best aim in the world, you will defeat the challenge with mere milliseconds to spare!
Playing Creature in the Well was great because it combined several game styles that I never would’ve thought to combine. After about four hours though, some of the game’s charm started to wear off as the difficulty level started to really spike and the level designs started to become all too familiar. That being said though, I really hope this is not the last we’ve seen of this type of game! With some different characters and locations, I can see this type of game thrive in the long run.
If you like games which combine two seemingly unrelated genres, then you should check out Creature in the Well for its interesting combination of brick-breaking, pinball and hack-and-slash mechanics. Similarly, why not check out Yoku’s Island Express from Team17. That was another really fun game which combined pinball with a 2D platformer.