Animal Well is a Metroidvania designed around making the player do things intuitively. There are no tutorials, only vibes.

Made by a single guy (!!!!), the game seems very keen on giving you a ton of toys to play with and experiment. The main game is full of "ah-ha!" moments that make the experience of beating the five bosses so rich and fulfilling. Well except maybe the Ostrich. Fuck the Ostrich biome.

The great puzzle design is why I enjoyed this game so much. But I suspect the cryptic puzzle design involved with the side content and the true ending is what will get many to love this game. While I did get a good amount of secret eggs, after a while I just felt like I was banging my head against the wall trying to figure out where to find some of these secrets. So much of it feels really obscure to the point where I'm a little scared away from it. Basically, it's a skill issue.

I plan on going back to obtain all the stuff I miss eventually. I'd like to do it myself, but I'm also fine with using a guide as needed. I felt comfortable rating this one based on my experience beating the game but I'm more than happy to revisit this review/score if the post-game stuff compels me to.

EDIT: So I came back and 100%d this one. I got most of the secret eggs myself (55 or so) and then I used a guide to clean up the rest. Wow, secret hunting just goes to show how strong and intuitive much of the map design is. So many of them were a blast to find. Secret hunting was definitely not always great though. While the game is good at giving the player new tools to use pretty frequently. The experience near the end of the game ended up just being to spam the new tool in as many rooms as possible. This isn't the best when you're on your 5th or 6th new tool and the process just becomes annoying. Some good and some bad in the completion process but I'm glad I did. It didn't change my base feeling for the game but definitely made me more confident in Animal Well's strengths and weaknesses.

Vania fans are eating good these days and Animal Well is no exception.

Reviewed on May 15, 2024