Animal Well
◉ ◉ ◉ ◉ ○(4/5: great)
Playstation 5
Bigmode (2024)
"Now, what do I do here? ... Oh! That's pretty clever!"

A weird, wonderful, difficult, and dark platformer, I think Animal Well is pretty much guaranteed to be a classic. From the get go, the sound design and graphics are top notch and you could experience the joy of gaming just by wandering and jumping around the intensely detailed world that has been created. New mechanics and tools are introduced effortlessly and seamlessly as you explore and marvel at all the small moments. If you've grown up as a player since the 8-bit days (or earlier), this is a throwback to those times but also an elevation of the puzzle platformer genre. It is a treat.

However, it also falls prey to the modern need to make some aspect of the game punishingly difficult. I assume that's because in the modern era, the hints and cheats are instantly available on ad-splattered, barely-readable websites that randomly reload as you scroll down to find that hidden egg. Instead of having to wait a month for the magazine to be released, you can -- and likely will -- get the solution to a puzzle that is stumping you without giving up and going outside or something. I got through most of the main story without resorting to a second screen, but didn't get platinum without plenty of searches. I feel like I'm a clever guy but there are some puzzles I never would have solved before losing my patience. Also, it is pretty dark overall, which makes sense with the theme, but makes it tough to play at times.

Other than that, I loved meeting all the new animal friends and eventually escaping the well.

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Last updated: 06/24/2024
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