Hell Well (XSX) Review with stream

Presented in a 4-tone visual style, Hell Well is a top-down grid-based action title with elements of tower defense. Dying is inevitable but the goal is to survive for as long as possible with its ever-increasing horde mode gameplay.

You play as a demon defending territory from angels. Armed with a fireball ranged attack on a cool down timer, souls can be obtained from defeated enemies then spent on towers, upgrades, and unlockable abilities. Action is fast paced and there is always something new to unlock or upgrade so action is constant and entertaining but there is one problem – balancing.

If you watch my explaining stream embedded in this article, you’ll see gameplay can get rather grindy and tedious. The peashooter fireball attack simply isn’t strong enough and it doesn’t fire nearly as fast as it should. Therefore, the player needs to rely on the placed towers to do most of the heavy lifting. However, enemies chew through these towers as soon as their invincibility period ends, leaving you alone to circle strafe and kill throngs of enemies one small fire blast at a time. There are times when I literally walked in the same circle for twenty minutes until the final enemy fell, never once breaking enemy manipulation. So instead of being the fast-paced thinking man’s tower defense title, it quickly becomes a lesson in attrition and tenacity.

The UI and even the main menu is also a little complicated but creative. Instead of selecting a new game from the menu, players are free to explore an intro hub world to change settings, browse unlocked color palettes, and even find secrets to start a match with a little extra ammo in your pocket. While cool and different, it takes a little while to understand. Just remember, you need to move right on top of a tower to upgrade or heal it, so it is easy to misfire a button press. Since the player is always keeping distance from a dozen enemies at any given second, it is difficult to select a tower, bomb, or the peashooter in the heat of battle since the shoulder buttons are used to scroll through the collected line-up instead of assigning a button to each option. Therefore, it often isn’t worth the risk to fumble with the controls on the fly and just stick with the underpowered fire attack.

Hell Well does a lot of things right and it only costs a few bucks. Unfortunately, the things that it does wrong, mostly the balancing issues, really cause this downloadable title to stumble. Like most EastAsiaSoft titles, most Achievements can be popped with little work, but it will take a while to grind for the final two which tasks the player with collecting a lot of souls and defeating a lot of enemies; it isn’t hard, it just takes time. The retro visual style is also nicely done, and the soundtrack is decent but easily gets repetitive with longer runs since the one track is basically on one giant loop. Even with some flaws, Hell Well still comes recommended despite some glaring issues.

SCORE: 6/10

Not As Good As: an RTS title

Also Play: Feeble Light and Excessive Trim  

Not To Be Confused With: Down Well

By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief

Twitter: @ZackGaz

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