I’ve played quite a few Xbox Live Indie Games recently, and to be honest, not many of them have been very good. Some have higher aspirations than others, but very few are what you would consider to be genuinely enjoyable videogames. High Gravity Wells though, well, that’s a game I can get behind. Based on a simplistic but very effective concept, High Gravity Wells stands as a perfect example of what can be achieved via Microsoft’s Indie Game platform and is an absolute steal at 80MS Points. It might not have a great deal of depth, there may be only one game mode to speak of and the visuals are about as basic as you’re likely to find, but that doesn’t stop Stockton’s gravity-based game of skill and subtlety from being anything less than highly enjoyable.
With a simple view of space as your backdrop, you are charged with piloting your little ship (if you can call it a ship) to the safety of each stage’s space port. Problem is, you don’t actually have any direct control over your ship. Instead, you are given the gravitational pull of the High Gravity Wells dotted around each level. Each High Gravity Well is mapped to a face button and increases in power and pull the longer you hold the corresponding button. You are subsequently required to power up each Well in order to gently navigate your ship past each stage’s array of obstacles and obstructions.
With between two and four Wells available for each stage, simply getting your ship to port can prove a tricky enough proposition thanks to the dastardly positioning of said port in relation to the stage’s Wells and the sensitivity of each Well’s power, but when you take into consideration the array of walls, asteroids and black holes often standing in your way, High Gravity Wells can quickly become quite the challenging experience. While the earlier stages provide little in the way of genuine challenge, once you begin to advance from one 8 stage Galaxy onto the next, the level of difficulty soon ramps up. Luckily, continues are infinite and restarts are pleasingly instantaneous, which is a huge bonus given the amount of times you’ll be reaching for the restart button. Sure, grinding your way through each Galaxy won’t keep you busy for too long, but if you’re the kind of gamer who enjoys time chasing, improving your completion time for each Galaxy can become a highly addictive proposition.
With just the four face buttons used for control of the Wells and the L trigger used to zoom out for some of the larger stages, High Gravity Wells couldn’t be an easier game to pick up..….the problem is putting it down. If this game had full online capabilities and a few more game modes, we could have been looking at something of a classic, but as it stands, this is short-lived but nonetheless highly entertaining piece of old school gaming. It may not have the bells and whistles of some of the larger scale Indie Games out there, but what it does have is a brilliantly simplistic concept delivered with a level of confidence and quality that is so often lacking from other games on the platform.
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