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Animal Well Review

Nintendo Switch by Shared Memory 0 text

Animal Well Thumbnail

Sleepless blobs solving blooming puzzles.

"Animal Well" is a Metroidvania-style video game that expertly merges puzzle-solving intricacies with minimalist platforming, created by the development team Shared Memory and published by Bigmode. The game casts players as a nondescript blob character, awakening from a flower bud into a strange and vibrant world, dense with mysteries and devoid of hand-holding. Launched on May 9, 2024, it is available on PlayStation 5, Windows, and Nintendo Switch, offering a unique blend of exploration, puzzle-solving, and atmospheric immersion that deviates significantly from traditional platformers.

Gameplay 9

"Animal Well" delivers an experience that is as intellectually stimulating as it is visually appealing. The game shuns conventional combat and instead focuses on exploration and the solving of complex puzzles. Players move through a meticulously crafted world, where each screen holds layers of secrets waiting to be uncovered. The gameplay mechanics are simple at the core—move and jump—but the real challenge lies in how players use the environment and the items they discover to progress. The inclusion of items like firecrackers, frisbees, and magical wands introduces innovative ways to interact with the surroundings and solve puzzles, making each discovery a rewarding experience.

Every element in the game is designed to encourage experimentation and discovery. The lack of explicit instructions enhances the sense of mystery and exploration, as players must rely on their intuition and the subtle environmental cues to solve puzzles and uncover secrets. This design choice fosters a deep engagement with the game world, compelling players to observe and interact with every element meticulously.

Graphics 9

"Animal Well" employs a retro pixel art style, enriched with modern lighting effects and detailed animations that breathe life into the game’s world. The visual design is a standout feature, with dynamic lighting and particle effects that enhance the atmospheric depth. Each biome within the game is distinct and filled with vibrant, neon-soaked visuals that maintain a surreal quality, making exploration a visually delightful experience. The attention to detail in the background and foreground elements adds layers to the gameplay, as visual cues often hold the keys to solving puzzles.

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Storyline 8

While "Animal Well" does not follow a traditional narrative structure, the storyline is embedded within the environment and the mysterious tasks players must undertake. The game's story unfolds through the exploration of the map and the interaction with the world's elements, rather than through direct narrative exposition.

This approach allows players to construct their own interpretations of the game’s lore, making each playthrough a unique narrative experience. The overarching goal of lighting four beacons by collecting flames from different map corners provides enough structure to guide the gameplay while preserving the enigmatic allure that drives the player's curiosity.

Multiplayer N/A

"Animal Well" is designed as a single-player experience and does not include multiplayer features. The game, however, has a strong community aspect in its deeper puzzle-solving mechanics, where players may find themselves engaging with others outside the game to unravel the game’s most challenging mysteries.

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Issues and Community Feedback

Players have expressed immense satisfaction with the depth and complexity of puzzles in "Animal Well." However, some have noted that the lack of a robust map zoom feature and the game's insistence on physical puzzle interaction can occasionally lead to frustration, especially when solutions are known but hard to execute due to precise mechanics. Additionally, the minimalist approach to music and sound has been a point of contention, with some players missing a more consistent auditory presence to accompany their exploration.

Conclusion 9

"Animal Well" is a masterclass in Metroidvania design, blending challenging puzzle mechanics with a beautifully crafted world. Its unique take on gameplay interaction and environmental storytelling creates a deeply immersive experience that is both intellectually rewarding and aesthetically pleasing. With a final score of 9/10, "Animal Well" stands out as a must-play for fans of the genre and newcomers alike, promising hours of engaging gameplay filled with discovery and intrigue.

Pros and Cons

  • Engaging puzzles
  • Beautiful graphics
  • Innovative item use
  • Sparse soundtrack
  • Some frustrating puzzles

Player Quotes

"Every screen is a new mystery."

"The visuals are an absolute treat."

"Could use a bit more music, but still amazing."

Explore More

Please note that this review is based on the feedback and sentiments of players on various Reddit threads and does not represent the views of all players.