Animal Well is the latest hit indie game to blow up Steam, has glowing reviews, and is on sale for a sweet launch discount

 Animal Well.
Animal Well.

What you need to know

  • The latest indie hit to blow up on Steam is Animal Well, a new Metroidvania that launched on Steam, PS5, and Nintendo Switch on Thursday. The game released to rave reviews, with 15 positively scored critic reviews and a 91/100 "Universal Acclaim" score on Metacritic.

  • Created by solo developer Billy Basso and published by YouTuber videogamedunkey's company Bigmode, Animal Well features a "dense, interconnected labyrinth" that players will have to explore and survive in by cleverly using items and the environment to their advantage.

  • The game's focus is largely on solving puzzles and unraveling secrets, as you play as a small blob-like character that can't directly fight back much against the "beautiful and unsettling creatures" that inhabit Animal Well's world.

  • Sadly, Animal Well has missed Xbox at launch, and at the time of writing, it's unclear if the indie will come to Microsoft's consoles in the future.

  • From now until May 23, Animal Well is available for a 10% launch discount that knocks the price down from $24.99 to $22.49.

The last few years have seen incredible indie games like Cult of the Lamb, Dredge, Lethal Company, and Another Crab's Treasure make their way to Steam, and now, it looks like we've got the next big hit on our hands: Animal Well. Created by solo developer Billy Basso and published by YouTuber Jason "videogamedunkey" Gastrow's company Bigmode, the game is available on Steam, PS5, and Nintendo Switch now. It's popping off on Steam in particular following its Thursday launch, with the game quickly rising to a fourth place position on its Top Sellers list.

Animal Well is a "Metroidvania" — a genre that emphasizes non-linear and open-ended exploration through a large world, with progression tied to finding and using new items and abilities. Animal Well's description indicates that you'll be using items you discover "to manipulate your environment in surprising and meaningful ways" while simultaneously working out the mysteries of the "dense, interconnected labyrinth" it's set in.

The labyrinth itself is very dark and rather ominous, filled with "beautiful and unsettling creatures" that may or may not attempt to hunt and eat the little flower-hatched blob you play as. You're not exactly high up in the food chain in this world, so your survival will largely come down to your ability to illuminate the darkness, solve puzzles, and make clever use of the resources you find.

I haven't played Animal Well yet, but what drove me to instantly buy it so I can soon is how ambitious it sounds. Its Steam page notes that "enemies, environment, and items interact in surprising and systemic ways," and even confidently states that "players will be discovering hidden puzzles for years." That's exactly the kind of depth I look for in open world and Metroidvania titles, so I'm excited to jump in and experience it.

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Whether the game actually lives up to the high expectations it's set remains to be seen, but I'm inclined to believe it will based on the fact it's released to rave, glowing reviews. Right now, Animal Well has an overall "Universal Acclaim" score of 91/100 on Metacritic, with 15 positive scored critic reviews and three unscored ones that sing the praises of the breakout indie. The game has also accrued around 300 positive ratings on Steam and has a "Very Positive" score there, though many of them are joke reviews referencing a line from a videogamedunkey video that Animal Well is "like Halo 2 meets Halo 3."

Another thing worth noting is that from now until May 23, you can get Animal Well for a cool 10% discount. Thanks to this two-week launch sale, the game's price has been lowered from its $24.99 MSRP to $22.49; if you're interested in picking it up, take advantage of the deal while you can to save a few dollars.

Animal Well
Animal Well

Disappointingly, Animal Well has missed Xbox at launch, and it's unclear if the game will ever come to Microsoft's consoles in the future. I haven't been able to figure out if there's a reason for that or not at the time of writing — neither Billy Basso nor publisher Bigmode have said anything publicly about Xbox — but I'll be sure to update this article if new information comes to light.

In any event, I'm always happy to see a creative new indie game perform well, and I can't wait to see just how high this ambitious Metroidvania soars in the coming days and weeks. Congratulations to Billy Basso and Bigmode on the explosive launch — I can't wait to jump into what sounds like one of this year's best PC games later this weekend.

Animal Well | $24.99 $22.49 at Steam

Solo developer Billy Basso and publisher Bigmode have released a new Metroidvania called Animal Well, and it's blowing up on Steam right now. Explore and illuminate a dark, ominous labyrinth as you use items and the environment to complete puzzles and keep yourself safe from deadly predators.

Also on: PlayStation | Nintendo SwitchView Deal