Animal Well

I know there are folks out there whose eyes glaze over at the term “pixel-art Metroidvania.” As someone who’s been gaming since the 1980s, I can relate to that knee-jerk reaction to some extent. I’ve forgotten more pixel-art Metroidvanias than most people have played. So I feel you.

But at the same time, the genre does have a lot of untapped potential. In fact, one of 2022’s best games so far was a pixel-art Metroidvania (I’m referring to Infernax, which you should definitely check out).

There’s another game on the horizon that you should have your eyes on: Animal Well. First revealed back in February of this year, Animal Well has a neon art style that looks insanely good.

We got to learn a little bit more about the game at the Day of the Devs presentation during Summer Game Fest 2022. We mostly just saw a whole lot of the gorgeous visual design, with weird creatures and a neon light visual style that makes the whole thing look kind of surreal. Plus, there’s a CRT scanline effect that really emphasizes this look.

Animal Well

While it is a pixel-art game, this isn’t something that could have ever been played on the NES. Solo developer Billy Basso (under the moniker Shared Memory) is using modern game technology to create gorgeous lighting effects that really make Animal Well stand out. In the words of Basso:

A 4K TV screen has 144 times as many pixels, but that means I have 144 times as much processing power to apply to each pixel. Throughout the game you’ll see a lot of things like fluid sims or dynamic lighting effects that haven’t really been used in a pixel-art game before.

You’ll also have various items to collect, which will help you solve puzzles. Apparently, every item has multiple uses, but those uses are left up to the player to figure out. One example shown during the presentation was a ricocheting disc that was used to distract a dog at one point, and to trigger a switch later on.

Seriously, all of this sounds fantastic, and I can’t wait for Animal Well to come out. It’s due at some unknown point in the future, and it should be coming to Steam and PS5 whenever it’s ready.

You can check out the four-minute presentation over at IGN.

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