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The story behind Downwell, one of this year’s most delightful surprises

Downwell might be a perfect game title. Not only is it short and pithy, but it serves as a perfect summation for what developer Ojiro Fumoto has created. It’s a game in which a young boy is continuously falling down a well, avoiding enemies and purchasing upgrades along the way. But it’s not a hopeless endeavor. Armed with Gunboots firing from his feet, the boy is able to defend himself during his descent. The result is the type of sweat-inducing adventure that threatens to do water damage to your smartphone or controller, a game whose red and white character models…

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Free fall to your heart’s content in Downwell

Sign up to receive each week’s Playlist e-mail here! Also check out our full, interactive Playlist section. Downwell (PC, Mac)  BY Moppin In most games, falling is essentially akin to certain death. Step an inch over the edge, and the void is there to swallow you up and take some of your health along with it. But in Downwell, falling is the exact opposite of an abyss. It is everything: life, death, and all else in between. In this vertical shoot-em-up, you must find the wherewithal to fight ghoulish monsters and gather resources while you free fall down a seemingly endless well…

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How do you bring the magic of Spelunky to 3D architecture?

Mark Johns is chasing a ghost. This is what he tells me. It’s not quite the truth. The spectral quality of this “ghost” isn’t immateriality; interfacing with it isn’t a problem, Johns has done that thousands of times. The hard bit, and the bit he’s after, is understanding it. The ghost is actually Spelunky: a procedurally generated action-platformer that Johns declares “might be the greatest videogame ever made.” But Johns reaches for metaphor, as he’s the kind of guy to give into the lure of theatrics if given the chance. He lives in the moment. Snatch him a boiler suit and…