Two Stories from the Well

There are two stories from the well I can tell you about. So grab a chair and listen. The first one goes like this:

Deep beneath a settlement engulfed in an endless sandstorm, a gruesome creature lives in a dried-up well. The last inhabitants do not remember how long it has been dwelling there, for the days flow into each other and the well has not supplied any water for years. A faint whisper murmurs through the abandoned halls and caves. It deprives them of all hope and has driven even the bravest to lunacy. Once this was a prosperous place full of technological wonders. The people lived a full life, busily trading with others and full of eagerness and confidence. But with the creature came the sand and today no one can enter or leave the village. Only the ancient machines deep underground would be able to control the weather, dispel the curse and expel the creature. But all who are able to operate the machines have been dragged into the depths. Now all hope rests on a forgotten and long inactive robot who awakens in the desert on his own and sets out into the depths to reactivate the machines and banish the creature. Unknown dangers, ancient mechanisms and deep chasms lurk down there. And from the darkness glare the ever vigilant eyes of the beast.

The second story is somewhat different:

Deep beneath a settlement engulfed in an endless sandstorm, a gruesome creature lives in a dried-up well. The three remaining survivors are a giant purple dragon lady that runs a store, some unknown person holed up in a house and a frog that cleans the floor all day. He mops it. With water. Where does the water come from? The well has drained and no one can enter or leave the village. And what do the frog, dragon and unknown entity drink all day? Unknown, but one does not look a gift horse in the mouth. Maybe the dragon lady still has a few crates of soda in storage. So the utility robot, suddenly activated for magical reasons after many years, goes off into the depths of the machine to drive away the sandstorm and the creature and get some more water for the frog to clean the floor. The robot does so with a baton and some kind of wiping stick. He uses those tools to shoot balls into pinball apparatuses, which – because of the banging – release energy, which he can then use to open the doors between the pinball rooms. And the creature that has been dragging all of the robot’s colleagues down into its lair does not do so with the brave pinball robot. That would be too easy. Instead, it develops a much more devilish strategy: It constantly insults the robot and sometimes sets up new pinball items to make the robot’s task a bit more difficult. But not too difficult. One does want to see the credits rolling, after all. And so our fellow makes its way through many strikingly identical rooms, to activate some kind of machine at the end of each area by pressing “A”. He repeats this cunning course of action until the creature leaves in a huff. And all is well again.

If only the people who wanted to make a fun sword/pinball game had talked to the people who wanted to tell a story about a sinister creature in the well.

The announcement trailer for Creature in the Well literally sold the game to me as a beautiful mix of genres. But the indie game, released in 2019 for PC, PS4, Switch, and ONE, turned out to be a strangely redundant game despite a great art style and some interesting gameplay mechanics, with its storytelling undermined by the gameplay and level design at every turn.

This post is also available in: German