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5 Tips for Beating Downwell

Downwell has been featuring a lot in recent posts, it’s one of the reasons I proclaimed the Vita alive and well, and is one of the best indie titles that I’ve played in years. It’s beautifully simplistic, yet infuriatingly difficult, which in my opinion is a perfect combination. At just £4 on the PSN store as well, there’s no reason for you not to play it.

Recently, I made it to the bottom of the well - athankyou. The only trophies I am missing now, are to complete a whole section without landing, and to beat the boss on hard mode… I had a stupid death right near the end, I’m not proud of it and still need to apologise to the cat for shouting.

During my play through countless attempts at beating Downwell, I thought of a few tips that could make the difference for players still trying to beat it, and for those, like me, who are gun-booting for the platinum.

1. Boulder Style

My first tip for you, is to not worry too much about trying to beat the game until you unlock boulder style.

Boulder style is a variant of the game where you start with 6HP rather than 4HP. Those 2HP can make all the difference on your journey to the deeper levels of the game.

This HP headstart does come at a cost though, you fall at a slightly faster rate, and can only pick from one of two upgrades at the end of a level, rather than the usual three. These are of small consequence, simply purchase the Youth upgrade as soon as possible, and you’ll be restored to your usual choice of three.

There are a number of styles to choose from, each with ups and downs...

2. Master the Cavern and the Catacombs

The first two stages of Downwell, are in my opinion, the hardest. These levels have a lot of blocks in the way preventing you from free falling and generating any real kind of combo to replenish your health. If you can make it through these two stages relatively unscathed, you’re in with a great shot of reaching the bottom.

By master, you have to clear the first stage taking no more than one hit really, or at least recovering to 5/6 HP. Head into the side rooms to grab health and gun mods, and if you’re feeling lucky, go for a combo of 25+ to restore 1HP.

I always restart if I take more than one hit in the cavern. The large amount of blocks means that if you take it slow, you can dodge a lot of the enemies.

3. Upgrade Tactically

Choosing your upgrades at the end of each stage is crucial to progression. Upgrades of particular note are the Apple. The Apple will restore 4HP right off the bat. However, if you use this when you already have full health, you increase your max HP by 1. So if you are in boulder style that’s 7HP now, pretty healthy.

I would suggest only choosing the Apple upgrade if you are on full health, or very little health. It can really make the difference to one of your runs.

In addition to this, I would prioritise upgrades that restore your health. For example, the Knife and Fork allow you to eat the dead bodies of the larger enemies for 1HP at a time. Youth also restores 1HP and gives you access to extra upgrades. Get these upgrades first and build a solid foundation.

Other to the health upgrades, the Drone is incredibly useful in the latter free falling stages of the Aquifer and Limbo, while the Exploding Blocks upgrade can make the Catacombs much more manageable.

Choose your upgrade wisely

4. Shop Savvy

The shops are your real lifeline at reaching the bottom of the well. There’s a reason why everything doubles in price when you activate hard mode…

If I’m on over half my health, I’ll always purchase a HP Max increase over replenishing one or two HP, particularly if I’m nearing the end of the game. It’s very easy to combo in the 4 stage, Limbo and as such you can recover a lot of your lost HP over the three levels leading up to the boss. The run were I beat the boss, I had 10/10HP at the start of the level.

However, if I’m below half my health, I’ll always get myself back to a close to full as possible.

Never buy the charge upgrades alone, you get enough charge upgrades from picking up gun mods on your descent. Honestly, charge is not that useful towards the later stages of the game, as bouncing on blocks in Limbo returns you to full charge.

Get the most from your precious gems

5. Keep Combos Short

There are trophies for 10, 30 and 100 kill combos. Don’t even bother going for the 30 and 100 kill trophies until you are in Limbo. I easily racked up a 100 combo here without trying, there’s no landing blocks to get in your way, and provided you are jumping out of the side rooms, no reason to break your combo. I thought the 100 combo would be the hardest trophy, but its a cakewalk if you attempt it in the right place.

Limbo is also the best place to go for the Clean Boots trophy - awarded for clearing a whole stage (3 levels) without landing. Ignore the side rooms and just go for it.

But back to combos. You are awarded 100 gems for a combo of 8+, +1 Charge for a combo of 15+, and +1HP for a combo of 25+. Therefore, there is no reason to Combo over 26 kills once you have the trophies. Break the combo here, reap the rewards and start again. In the first two stages, break your combo at 8 each time to rack up gems to buy HP max upgrades and stockpile gems for the later levels. This enables you to make best use of the shops, as well as speeding up your unlocking of extra styles and colour palettes.

Short combos keep the rewards coming thick and fast

Downwell is one of the hardest platinums I’ve worked towards. It’s a real challenge, but one that you should rise too. With these tips in mind, hopefully it’s a little easier. Happy jingling!

Don’t forget, you can follow me on PSN ‘@Sethoy’, find us on twitter ‘@hiitscore’ and top up your PSN credit here.