The Well


DoraThe WellOn a recent Link Dump Friday, we featured a game called The Well, a horror point-and-click mystery designed to run alongside the BBC miniseries of the same name, divided into chapters that shed more light on the story behind the videos you unlock as you progress. Billed as a "multi-platform horror drama", it tells the story of four teenagers who discover an old well hidden deep within a house undergoing restoration and end up awakening something much older and darker than they may be prepared to deal with.

You'll start out with access to the first ten minute clip of the series, and the first level of the game. Each time you complete a level, you'll unlock another clip and stage. The game is played with the mouse; click and hold on the screen during gameplay, and move your mouse around to shift your view and look around the room you're in. Text will pop up on the screen as you move the cursor over certain areas, and clicking on them will let you interact with your environment. Complete minigames throughout the house to discover items and unlock more pieces of the story. Clicking the icons in the top-right corner of the screen will let you toggle the sound and subtitles, while the Navigator tab will let you play the stages and scenes you've unlocked. You don't have to watch the video clips, but if you don't, you'll miss out on half the story, which is easily the game's selling point.

Analysis: Admittedly, I may have come across as overly critical in The Well's itty-bitty Link Dump featurette, and that's partially why this review has come to be. Not to mention the fact that it received an extremely positive response, and I thought that it probably reserved a closer look. There were things I quite enjoyed about the whole experience, it's just that few of them had to do with the game itself. The story is interesting and unsettling, if a little predictable, and the production of the show is very well done, with great atmosphere and good performances by its young actors. If they or their in-game counterparts occasionally make unrealistic decisions to advance the plot, well, that's to be expected. If you're not yelling "GET OUT OF THE HOUSE, DUMMY" at the screen, everyone knows you're not really watching a horror movie.

The WellThe problem is that the gameplay isn't nearly as interesting as the story. The house is moody and dark, but fails to really capture the unsettling atmosphere of the videos, due in part to a molasses pacing. Traversing through a gloomy room only to have "play game" pop up when you mouse over an object doesn't exactly make you feel as though you're in any peril. Especially not when the games themselves are dull and uninspired. Assemble a broken portrait, place gears in proper order, rearrange books to reveal an image... none of them are really challenging or interesting enough. There also isn't any real indication as to what order you should complete the rooms in, which can be confusing since the characters who show up to speak to you upon completing a puzzle can quite clearly be talking about people or events you haven't heard about yet.

Can design and story make up for all that? Depends on how highly you value the story over gameplay, and I suppose for all the plaintive bleating I've done in the past about games failing in the department of the former, I should probably be a bit more forgiving here. As an exercise in interactive storytelling, The Well does a lot of things right, but makes its share of mistakes as well. If the story is sufficient incentive for you to look past its somewhat bland gameplay, you'll probably enjoy it, especially if you're a fan of the genre. The story and scares are tame enough to be safe for the teens that are its target audience, while still being spooky enough that even us awesome, hardcore, brave grown-ups can still enjoy it. And afterwards, at night, when you turn out the lights, should you find yourself wondering if you might wake up to find an ancient hag perched atop you, whatever you do, don't open your eyes.

That'll just make her angrier.

Play The Well

36 Comments

This games too scaryyy!!! Need... mommy!

Pretty cool how the setting is dark and creepy. O_O I'm gonna try it now. Hope it's as good as those creepy games I play here :)

this isn't scary at all, it's actually pretty dull. didn't like!

What's the deal with the

petal game?
I keep getting "Game Over" even when I'm collecting a lot of petals...

This game is great for kids - scary enough to thrill but not freak them out, and challenging enough to get their synapses working.

This game is ok. But what is really awesome is that during the video episodes, the volume slider goes to eleven. Most other games go to ten, but this one goes to eleven!

Every time I finish the potion game, it gives me the ogham stone and then makes me play the game again. I think the site has some serious bugs to work out.

JIGuest,

The volume control is the same on the BBC's iPlayer (the Flash application that lets you listen to BBC Radio and, if you're in the UK, watch their TV shows).

Obviously there are some serious Spinal Tap fans working at the BBC (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Up_to_eleven)!

In level 1, the correct order is:

1st stone - Sitting Room - picture

2nd stone - Kitchen - cooking

3rd stone - Study - books

4th stone - Sitting Room - music

5th stone - Hall - clock

It's very reminiscent of the 7th Guest, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/7th_Guest)- if the animation was a little slicker and the puzzles were a little harder it might match it too, although that said the storyline is much better.

Sgtdroopy, I had the same problem, until I realised you have to drag the screen rather than click at it to change perspective- the question mark in the top right corner tells you how.

Now I see the order is shown while looking at "progress"...

I have to agree with mamita on this game; it seems quite well-suited to the author's target audience, and came across very well. Not too scary, yet still interesting enough to hold even mine and my fiancee's attention through to the end. A good balance of video segments, ghostly "quips", and game play; though Dora was dead-on about the game ordering. It could have used a bit of work. ;)

@JIGuest: About the Petal Game:

It's really more about speed and your balancing of the number of petals grabbed each time. Make sure you have AT LEAST 2 or 3 of each color left at the end of the round. Also, you need not circle any of them. A simple line connecting one to the next to the next works even better, so my Lady showed me. :D

I hope that may help.

the video clips are really goooood!!!! (actually it is the only reason for me to play the games...the games are kinda boring you know...)

Watching the clips I get the feeling this show should be called "How not to be a Cthulhu Investigator".

Am I the only person who experiences mouse button lag in these games? If I click the mouse button, its fine. If I click and hold, the games registerr as if I am holding long after I release. Its like it stays "pressed" for 1.5 seconds for every second pressed. It happens for all press and hold games, but I was enjoying this one and it causes problems (I can't do the petal one at all within the time because of this problem).

Does anyone know how to fix this? Am I doomed to limit my gaming due to a stupid problem that is infuriating?

I'm on Mac osx, if that helps.

Please come to my aid...

[Edit: I would suggest making sure all your software (OS, browser, Flash Player) are all updated to the latest version. I am also using a Mac and have never experienced what you have described here. -Jay]

sgtdroopy - You can play every game as many times you like. Try dragging the mouse to the sides, and you will move to other directions (out of the kitchen, maybe?)

I got to the 3rd level, but it's stuck on "loading"...
Tried refreshing the game and reload it, but it's stuck on the same spot.
Anyone?

Ok...so I'm in level two and have no idea how to get to the cellar. I've looked all over the screen and can't find an entrance. *hopes she's not missing something obvious*

AHHH ok i think i get scared too eady this game freaked me out or maybe playing it at 2am isn't helping

Ana:
You don't need the get to the cellar in level 2. You can skip it and just do the bathroom, bedroom and the vent part.

anyone gonna post a walkthrough to this soon? just curious.

Vivian: Ah, thanks! I was trying to find the stones in numerical order and the wheel showed one in the cellar before the second one in the bedroom.

I'm having the same problem with the potion game. I can't move on.

no walkthrough huh?

For those of you playing on a laptop, I would strongly suggest plugging in an external mouse as some of these games are pretty difficult otherwise.

I'm a little stuck in the photo puzzle game - how do you rotate the pieces?!

Silly me. I didn't realize that you had to click and drag to move around.

Anyway... the game seems quite buggy. When I go to the Study and click on the Wardrobe to "Play Game", it does nothing until I click "Skip", and then it takes me to the Potion game in the kitchen. And if I click the wardrobe a second time (instead of "Skip"), then it takes me to the picture game.

@elvisharwen - Move your mouse to the edge of a piece until the cursor turns into an arrow.

I guess I have a bizarre mouse problem :(. Anyway, on the rare occasion that I can get all of the petals it just fills the tub again. I have tried

taking just the green petals to leave only primroses and violets

but that does not work.

What gives?

For the petal game

You need to circle all the petals (in groups of their colours) so they all disappear and then you need to do the same with the next batch that come down. You need to do it quickly otherwise you won't have time for the next batch

I would very much like to see the videos, but a message always appears saying "Not available in your area." Help, anyone?

Thanks Anna. There is no way I'll ever be able to do two tubs worth with my lag. Oh well....

@Nov.
i've got the same problem here. Have you finished each level? cuz it seems that in my case... you have to finish each levels to watch the video.

So far the scariest part was when I accidentally clicked a light switch thing in the main room, and it made this load noise and freaked me out.

Well, it looks good, but I scare REALLY easy!! Example: In Color My Dreams, I yelped at the telephone scene!! O.o So, yea. Can someone tell me whether they think I'm brave enough? Thanks :)

...It's AMY POND! OH MY GOD, IT'S AMY POND!

er, sorry, my fandoms crossed for a second there. I'm not one for horror, but, well, o_O.

If any of you are wondering, you CAN skip the games. If you have trouble with lag or whatever, you can try the game a couple times until the question mark in the top right corner starts flashing. Click on it and it will say "would you like to skip this game?" Just click "yes" and you're home free! So there's really no substance to this game whatsoever. Everything is provided. You don't actually have to DO anything. Personally, I thought it was a little boring because of that. The thrill factor kept me going though. Oh, how I love a good scare! :)

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