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Thread: Animal Well

  1. #1
    Level 10,000 achieved
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Finland

    Animal Well

    Animal Well came out yesterday. It's in PS+ on PS5 so I fired it up, played a bunch of it. Got up early this morning and played another hour of it before work.



    It's a 2D metroidvania with very robust and fun systems and little narrative or handholding. It's one of them "stumble around and figure things up on your own" kinda things. I've already seen it compared to Fez, Outer Wilds and The Witness. Personally I'd describe it as "Rain World but nice". It's full of exploration, experimentation and delightful surprises. I'm hooked. I'm in the egg layer of this gaming lasagna. I love it.

  2. #2
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2001
    Location: Somewhere
    You do realize that lasagna doesn't have egg in it?

    game looks pretty cool though

  3. #3
    Level 10,000 achieved
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Finland
    This one does. It's between the cheese layer and the evil layer.

  4. #4
    Member
    Registered: Jul 2002
    Location: Edmonton
    I'm only 20 minutes in, but it's beautiful and mysterious and scary and the controls are snappy as heck and I knew dunkey wouldn't lead me wrong.

  5. #5
    Level 10,000 achieved
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Finland

    I done it

    Iíve beaten Animal Well. In the end it turns out that the real animal in the well is YOU.

  6. #6
    Level 10,000 achieved
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Finland
    Remember when I said I was in the egg layer? I lied. NOW I’m in the egg layer! I got so many dang eggs but there’s still SO MUCH empty space left on my egg shelves! I’m 12 hours in and only now beginning to grasp the magnitude of how many eggs are in this game.

  7. #7
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    The game hasn’t quite clicked for me yet, mainly because I’m pretty bad at its platforming. I like it in the abstract, but I’m hoping that it’ll fall into place for me, more than it has so far.

  8. #8
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Quote Originally Posted by henke View Post
    Remember when I said I was in the egg layer? I lied. NOW I’m in the egg layer! I got so many dang eggs but there’s still SO MUCH empty space left on my egg shelves! I’m 12 hours in and only now beginning to grasp the magnitude of how many eggs are in this game.
    Sounds more like you are the egg layer.

  9. #9
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2004
    maybe the real egg layer are the friends we made along the way

  10. #10
    Level 10,000 achieved
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Finland
    You guys are blowing my mind.

  11. #11
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here
    those henke eggs had better be free range or I ain't eating that lasagna

  12. #12
    Member
    Registered: Jul 2002
    Location: Edmonton
    You need eggs to make the pasta.

  13. #13
    Level 10,000 achieved
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Finland
    Egg update: I have 50 eggs



    edit:52! Tho I did resort to a walkthrough to find the last CAT CODES.

    Tip for new players: whenever you find something that looks like it might be SOMETHING, mark it with an icon on the map. Your future self will thank you.
    Last edited by henke; 14th May 2024 at 11:01.

  14. #14
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    Finished the main game now. Like Noita it has a lot more to explore and do in the world after you're done with the game. Great gameplay, great puzzles, great aesthetic, great world. This should be the indie jewel of the year. Props to Billy Basso, the maker. If all of that weren't enough, he did this whole thing in 34 MB.

  15. #15
    Member
    Registered: Jul 2002
    Location: Edmonton
    In some ways Animal Well feels like the Super Metroid spiritual successor we've never really received.

    When I played Super Metroid as a child, I'd see some unique detail in a room and, without the benefit of game-design savvy that I would acquire over the subsequent decades, would assume it was significant and try everything I could to manipulate or activate it. Animal Well encourages this with well-hidden secrets often discovered using undocumented abilities (another nod to Super Metroid). Its atmosphere of mystery and horror is expressed mostly indirectly through environmental details. It's unafraid to be obscure. As an adult with probably less patience than I used to have, this can be frustrating, but I try to get back into that old mindset, where anything could be possible and could be the solution. It's a great piece of art in that sense and a great homage to a style of game that isn't made very often anymore.

    However, it's not as fun to play as I would like. I think I'm appreciating it more than enjoying it. Traversal feels good, and (again) like Super Metroid it includes some advanced movement techniques that are satisfying and challenging to execute. But it's missing some primary interaction to make the moment-to-moment gameplay more compelling. In most Metroid-type games that would be your attack. Animal Well mostly eschews violence, which is an admirable design decision, but the act of moving around and solving puzzles doesn't quite make up for the absence of something more immediate and visceral. I've had it for a week now and am a few hours in, and it's not for lack of time to play.

    It's good. It's worth playing. I'm not sure I'd herald it as a classic, yet.

  16. #16
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    I'm with you, Aja, with respect to appreciating the game more than I'm enjoying it. I wonder whether it's partly a lack of focus and pacing that comes with it being very open and free-form, where a Super Metroid guides its players more. I'm sure it's exactly that openness that appeals a lot to some, though.

  17. #17
    Member
    Registered: Jul 2002
    Location: Edmonton
    Now I feel like I might’ve been too hard on it, so I guess I’ll reserve the right to change my mind once I’ve finished it. One thing is for certain, though: it’s an aesthetic triumph.

  18. #18
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2002
    Location: melon labneh
    I didn't have a problem with waning motivation for most of the game; for me, progression was supported well enough by the novelty of the items and puzzles and the absolute minimalism in guidance and narrative. Bold decisions that made me experience for the first time in a while all the excitement of methodically appropriating a mysterious and outright gorgeous new universe in quasi-emergent fashion, continuously being promised yet another surprise that may alter the progression in unexpected ways.

    Where the game, or rather the meta about the game, ultimately failed my desire to keep playing is in the concept of "layers" and the promise of deeper endings. Completing the game past the main ending is doable without external help, but for me it didn't happen before a feeling of pointlessness had already crept in. I started wanting to fast-track the more annoying puzzles with Google because, by this point, the flaws in backtracking and lack of new meaningful interactions had really started showing.

    This systematic breakdown instilled cynicism and deflated the true ending. I felt more and more that the investment to look for post-game-relevant secrets hidden throughout the game's screens was high, that I was in a place actually built with ARG players in mind and that I needed community involvement to figure this out, this was the line where it stopped being organically fun. For this kind of game, I really want to be alone with the experience and not feel the burden of a metanarrative telling me that I've not truly completed the game because much remains locked away.

    So unlike most Igavanias, I prefer to consider the whole experience to be actually encapsulated within the main ending. You get 4-5 hours of an atmosphere-heavy, unconventional game that managed to elicit those gleeful memories of figuring things out in a mysterious, magical world and that was good enough for me. Sure, you can spend a lot more time in the post-game but whether it is worth it or not hinges on how fun you think it is to repeatedly hit a game's wiki for fear of missing out.
    Last edited by Briareos H; 28th May 2024 at 08:05.

  19. #19
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    I think it was fair since I felt the main game is a full game.

    Having finished it but not too much beyond it, I don't think I'm missing out on anything important.
    But I'll sometimes hop into the game to see if there's anything else I could do, and usually I can find something new. I've been playing Sable like that too... Cruising around after finishing it and looking for something to climb or look into, and often there's a new secret.

    I thought Noita handled it cleverly just in the sense that the extra stuff was literally out of the normal game world, so there was no confusion what was the game and what was this bigger world out there doing its own thing. But that doesn't mean having post-game stuff built into the normal game world is bad.

    Ultimately I think the way to put it is that it caters to a specific type of gamer that likes to look over the map and their notes and think of things to try... It's for young people that can blow an afternoon just thinking about a game without knowing if it'll mean anything, which is something people may lose patience for as they get older and busier. I like it in a drip feed kind of way, something that lets me come back to the game every now and then to look for one more new thing for that session; usually there is, and that suits me well. But I recognize it's catering to a type, and people differ on that.

    Edit: What I like about it as a metroidvania platformer is that very many of the scenes have different kinds of platforming or conceptual puzzles to handle, and it keeps the novelty going basically through all of the core game. In that way it doesn't get stale. There is the part as you get towards the end where you're looking over the map thinking about ways forward, that could be considered tedious compared to other games of the type, but I think the pros still outweighed the cons, since you usually had a good idea of what you might try next... And if nothing else, you could just start going back through old areas, and chances are you'd run into something else you could try. The game never really stranded the player completely; so that's how it could pull of that kind of design.

    That said, I wouldn't say it's better than Ori & the Blind Forest, both on the aesthetics & creativity or fun of the platforming, so I don't think it's the best of the metroidvania type or anything. Animal Well is a minimalist version of that, which is cool in its own way, and more my speed anyway, since Ori was more intense as a platformer too.
    Last edited by demagogue; 28th May 2024 at 16:07.

  20. #20
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here
    I'm enjoying all these takes on the game, I just wanted to say that I appreciate everyone talking about it. What I'm getting is that it's a sort of reconfiguring of the metroidvania template into an open, puzzle-led experience that's heavy with secrets - so kind of like Fez, I gather, with maybe more taxing platforming. Sounds good, but definitely something for when the mood strikes, I suppose.

  21. #21
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    FTR, the actual platforming, on both the puzzle & twitch fronts, isn't all that intense in Animal Well.
    It's not nothing, but I think it was lighter than Fez, definitely Celeste.
    Sometimes you have to figure out the right way to approach a thing, or wait for the right tool.
    But Fez is definitely the right paradigm anyway.

  22. #22
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    I found Fez easier to jump in, go over a couple of puzzles, and jump out again. It's a game where I found it easy enough to play it quite casually, dipping in and out if I had 10-20 minutes and just wanted to chill a bit with the Disasterpeace music and the pixel art world. To me, Animal Well feels more involved. I've had more moments where I headed in a certain direction, died before finding a save point, had to get back there, tried again, failed again, went back to the save point etc. I'm still not talking about putting in an hour that's then wasted because of badly placed save points, but with Animal Well I get the impression that I should have at least half an hour, ideally more, to make any real progress. The two games aren't miles apart, but I definitely found Fez more chill than Animal Well.

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