Creature In The Well combines classic pinball with a challenging dungeon crawler, and it's absolutely brilliant

(Image credit: Flight School Studio)

A sandstorm rages through the desert as a small robot navigates its way towards a looming mountain. Deep within the caverns lies a colossal creature, dwelling in the darkness before its next victim enters its lair. As the robot ventures through the mouth of the mountain, an ear-piercing metallic scream echoes from the depths. The creature is awake, and knows you have arrived.

In Flight School Studio's Creature In The Well, you play as the last BOT-C unit, a robot that has been given the task of restoring power to a machine in hopes of stopping the never-ending sandstorm that ravages the world. The facility you seek lies deep underground, and to get to it you need to clear dungeons and survive tricky encounters with the immense boney beast who is trying to stop you.

Creature In The Well is like no other dungeon-crawler I have played. Its electrifying pinball mechanics do separate it from others, but its true strength lies in creating a world shrouded in a mist of mysticism. The mountain, the machine, and the monster are all threads of a larger tapestry that I want to unravel to the point where even if the creature kills me time and time again, I always go back. I need to know who the creature is, what the facility does and how to energise the mechanical heart of a mysterious mountain. 

To repair the machine and find out what happened to the civilisation that was previously there, you have to restore power to eight sections of the machine which are hidden at the end of the eight dungeons that can be accessed through the mountain’s home area called the Temple. Each dungeon is constructed from a number of pinball puzzle rooms. The chambers test your reflexes, puzzle-solving abilities and skills that require the player to store up energy and then unleash it in a blast of electricity.

Controlling chaos

(Image credit: Press)

At first, the bouncing balls seem chaotic, bouncing off bumpers, ricocheting off the walls, triggering lasers and activating painful electrical shockwaves – it's an electrifying chaotic frenzy. But with the right weapons and upgrades, you can begin to harness that energy and control the messy chaos. Having the skills to catch, charge and hit the balls quickly and precisely feels very monk-like, and you even wear a tattered cloak to complete the look.

There's no time for meditation though, as you need to keep your wits about you. As you explore the mechanical catacombs, the creature stalks you from the depths, its eyes bright, and glowing. With each dungeon completed, you begin to learn more about the machine’s purpose and the engineers that created it. Control panels in the facility contain stored information concerning the engineers who were building the machine. But as you discover the secrets of this mountain, the god of this mechanical world becomes angrier, and at the end of each trial is a boss battle scenario where it pulls you into the darkness and you must defend yourself from its attacks.

It's the creature's confrontations that make my yearning for the game's secrets stronger. It's a David and Goliath situation and I believe I can win. I have yet to discover all the answers that surround the lore of the mountain so, until then, I will keep returning to the depths. The pull of its alluring mysteries is too strong. 

This feature first appeared in Official Xbox Magazine. For more articles like the one you've just read, why not check out all of the OXM subscription offers at MyFavouriteMagazines.

Freelance journalist

Rachel Watts is the former reviews editor for Rock Paper Shotgun, and in another life was a staff writer for Future publications like PC Gamer and Play magazine. She is now working as a freelance journalist, contributing features and reviews to GamesRadar+.