This dark new Metroidvania is already 2024's second best-reviewed game, making it a perfect tonic to ease my Hollow Knight Silksong blues

Animal Well screenshot, captured on PC
(Image credit: Bigmode)

Hollow Knight Silksong is still somewhere behind the shadowy gates of game development, but not to worry, this banger year for Metroidvanias continues with Animal Well, out today, which might just be a game of the year contender based on its critical reception. 

Indie developer Billy Basso first began making Animal Well in 2017, before YouTuber videogamedunkey jumped in to help distribute the game with his fresh faced publisher Bigmode Games. (Animal Well is actually the company's first published game and what a way to get things started.)

The arduous wait seems to have paid off, though, as Animal Well is currently the second best-reviewed game this year, with an aggregate score of 91 according to Metacritic. Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth is the only other 2024 release ahead of the surprise indie, and barely so, with an average rating of 92. 

Reviews have been gushing about Animal Well's layered pixel art that doesn't just rely on nostalgia, puzzles, and secrets that continually reward creative thinking, and a natural world that seems to tick on whether you're there to witness it or not. 

"Animal Well is stubbornly traditional in keeping you in the dark as you embark on your adventure, but that's firmly to its credit as you unravel the mysteries sprinkled around its map," GamesRadar's Animal Well review reads. "Puzzles involving animals, toys and mechanical devices demand creative thinking, while the sense that nothing is quite as it seems never lets up. This is an endlessly inventive Metroidvania with unfathomable depth."

Animal Well is out now on Steam, Nintendo Switch, and PS5.

Ubisoft's Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown pivot, the ultra psychedelic Ultros, personal odyssey Tales of Kenzera: Zau, and now Animal Well have all made 2024 a killer year for the genre, with or without a certain subterranean goth bug showing up. And there are probably dozens of other gems buried under storefront algorithms that I sadly haven't discovered yet.

Check out our best Metroidvania games list for more. 

Freelance contributor

Kaan freelances for various websites including Rock Paper Shotgun, Eurogamer, and this one, Gamesradar. He particularly enjoys writing about spooky indies, throwback RPGs, and anything that's vaguely silly. Also has an English Literature and Film Studies degree that he'll soon forget.