Previously, playing Downwell might have left you in a quandary.
You see, challenging you to travel seemingly forever down the depths of a well, its vertically-scrolling gameplay means that it’s perfect for phone screens, and so too is the fact that it’s very much a game you play in short bursts. But being very challenging, touchscreen controls just don’t feel adequate enough for the job. So do you play it on your phone, or console? It’s a tough choice. Or should I say, it used to be.
Now available on Switch, no longer do Downwell fans need to choose between having the action cramped on a widescreen display or having to using a touchscreen, as the Switch version offers an incredible Tate mode presentation. You simply launch the game, head into the display options menu, turn Tate mode on, and away you go.
In Tate mode, all of Downwell‘s HUD items are placed neatly at the top of the screen, and thanks to the vertical presentation everything is just bigger. Honestly, it’s the best way to play Downwell. Though I suggest you play it handheld style using Tate mode rather than trying to stand your TV on its side while having your Switch docked. That just sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. Playing the game using just one Joy-Con isn’t an issue, either. In fact, it’s surprisingly comfortable.
Yes, I know some monitors allow you to rotate your screen 90°, enabling you to play Downwell in Tate mode on your fancy pants PC. But to me, Downwell isn’t the type of game I want to play on my PC. I want to play it sat on the couch, or on a bus, or in the bath. When I sit down to game on my PC or console, I want to play something I can immerse myself in for an hour or so. Downwell, on the other hand, is pick-up-and-play arcade goodness that I want to play little but often. The Switch is the best format for that.
Kim previously reviewed Downwell for GameSpew, and while she quite liked it she found that the gameplay got pretty repetitive fast. As such, she awarded it a 6/10. Check out the review if you want to learn more about the game. In my opinion it’s pretty much spot-on: being a roguelike, Downwell certainly isn’t for everyone, but those who are up for a challenge and don’t mind repeating the same areas time and time again will undoubtedly find themselves charmed by it. As I’ve already said, it’s a game that’s best played little but often.
Those who do devote their time to Downwell will be rewarded with a range of alternative visual modes, which don’t affect the gameplay in any way but may evoke happy retro memories. And there are a handful of styles to unlock that do affect the gameplay, tweaking certain parameters to offer a little extra variety. There’s also the option to enable a timer, making the game an absolute delight for speedrunners, even though its levels are procedurally generated.
But you know what really makes Downwell a must-buy? The fact that it’s only £2.69/$2.99. For less than the price of a coffee you can buy a game for your Switch that will provide you with hours of entertainment. Possibly tens of hours if you find yourself hell-bent on beating the damn thing. That, in my opinion, makes it a real steal. So, you know what to do. Get it bought.