Animal Well review

by on May 10, 2024
Reviewed On
Also Tested On
Release Date

May 9, 2024.


While video games come in all shapes and sizes, the vast majority of them have one thing in common: some form of combat. Whether it’s jumping on villainous turtles or swinging a sword at goblins, most of the games we play involve some sort of somewhat violent conflict. This only makes the idea of a game without combat more enticing, especially when it’s from a genre known for featuring it. The Metroidvania genre is one you’d probably expect to be doing a lot of slashing or shooting in, which makes the complete lack of combat in Animal Well all the more impressive.

In Animal Well you play as a little blob who is trapped in an underground labyrinth full of weird, wonderful, and sometimes terrifying creatures. The striking, almost subterranean visual aesthetic will likely be the first thing you notice on your adventure, which is both lovely to look at and simple enough not to distract from the gameplay. Our little lump of a hero doesn’t exactly have a whole lot of tricks at its disposal at the start of the game, sporting only the ability to move and jump. Immediately you’ll notice that these very simple movement options feel fantastic, though, which is helpful because the Animal Well is a dangerous place.

Animal Well

There’s all manner of spikes, pits and poisonous gasses ready to deplete your health bar as you explore the underground environment, not to mention the animals of the well themselves. Although cute critters like rabbits and chinchillas won’t try to destroy you, there are evil ghost cats, tenacious ostriches, and excitable dogs that’ll destroy your little slime character at a moment’s notice. For the most part running away into hard to reach places is the only way to survive these encounters, at least until you find a few items.

There’s a lovely selection of items to collect in Animal Well, but the first of these you’ll find is the closest to an offensive option. The firecrackers can be thrown any time you’re worried an animal might be about to attack, and will startle them for a few seconds allowing for a cheeky escape. In harder sections of the game they’re seriously helpful, but with the capacity to hold three at most, and a severe lack of places to restock them they should only be used in a pinch.

Animal Well

The other items you find while trying to escape the well are generally more helpful for reaching new places, but they aren’t the usual suspects. There’s a bubble gun that you can use to create bubbles that create temporary platforms; a yo-yo that you can swing around corners to hit hard to reach switches, and even a slinky. I never thought I’d see the day that this iconic little spring would be a useful and exciting item to use in a video game, but there’s something magical about dropping it down a staircase to activate a switch at the other side of a room.

Due to the fact that Animal Well doesn’t really involve fighting, there’s a bigger emphasis on puzzles blocking your progress. The variety of these is impressive, and whether the solution involves using your items in clever ways, or just finding ways to press buttons using your brain, it always feels great when you solve a particularly tricky one.

An aspect of Animal Well that really makes it stand out amongst its gear-gating-peers is quite how open the game is. After a short and fairly linear opening you reach the centre of the map and with four magic doodads to collect, and from here you are free to go in whatever direction you choose. Different players will likely have massively different experiences based on which direction and item they make their way to first, and I loved the freedom I was given over my adventure.

Animal Well

As well as exploring to make your way to an objective, there are of course collectibles hidden around the Animal Well. These come in the form of colourful eggs, which can be taken to a specific spot on the map to unlock new handy, but generally less crucial abilities. I won’t spoil what these are here, but I must say that for me they were a little underwhelming for my particular playstyle.

Outside of the slightly lacklustre rewards for collectibles I didn’t have a whole lot to complain about during my time with Animal Well. In some sections I feel the checkpoints are a bit too far apart (which isn’t ideal when you’re low on health and desperate for some respite) but as far as issues go it’s hardly the end of the world.

Animal Well is a wonderful Metroidvania that stands out in a crowded genre thanks to its freedom, lack of combat, and selection of totally unique items. This, combined with the striking visuals and sense of dread you feel as you explore, makes Animal Well a must play game, even in a year as busy as this.


A unique, no combat Metroidvania
Has a great sense of freedom
The items you collect are fantastic
Visually striking


Collectibles are a little underwhelming
A touch too stingy with the checkpoints

Editor Rating
Our Score


In Short

Animal Well is a Metroidvania that stands out in a crowded marketplace thanks to a lack of combat and some seriously creative power ups.